In order to make a valid will under Arkansas law, the will must be:
- In writing;
- Signed by the testator;
- Witnessed and signed by two witnesses.
The requirements to make a valid will under Arkansas law are found at Ark. Code § 28-25-103.
Who Can Make a Valid Will Under Arkansas Law?
Any person of sound mind eighteen (18) years of age or older may make a valid will in Arkansas. Ark. Code § 28-25-101.
To be of “sound mind” Arkansas law requires that the testator has sufficient mental ability to:
- Understand and remember, without prompting, the extent and condition of the testator’s property;
- Understand the “natural objects of their bounty;” and
- Understand to whom the property is being given and on what terms.
An Arkansas Will Must Be Signed or Marked By The Testator
An Arkansas testator has a few options for how to sign his or her will. The testator must declare to the attesting witnesses that the instrument is his or her will and either:
- Himself or herself sign;
- Acknowledge his or her signature already made;
- Sign by mark, his or her name being written near it and witnessed by a person who writes his or her own name as witness to the signature; or
- At his or her discretion and in his or her presence have someone else sign his or her name for him or her.
- The person so signing shall write his or her own name and state that he or she signed the testator’s name at the request of the testator.
No matter what method of signing the will is chosen by the testator, in any of the above cases the signature must be at the end of the instrument and the act must be done in the presence of two or more attesting witnesses. Ark. Code § 28-25-103.
Witness Requirements For a Valid Arkansas Will
To be valid, an Arkansas will must be witnessed by two competent witnesses. The attesting witnesses must sign at the request and in the presence of the testator. Ark. Code § 28-25-103(c).
Any person, eighteen years of age or older, who is competent to be a witness generally may act as an attesting witness to a will in Arkansas. Ark. Code § 28-25-102.
If one of the witnesses is an interested witness (the will gives to him or her some beneficial interest by way of devise), the devise to the interested witness is invalid in any amount over and above his or her intestate share, unless there are also two qualified disinterested witnesses who attested to the will. Therefore, the witnesses to an Arkansas will should not be beneficiaries under the will, if the testator wants to keep the devises under the will intact.
Does an Arkansas Will Have To Be Notarized To Be Valid?
No. There is no requirement under Arkansas law that in order to be valid a will must be notarized. However, an Arkansas will can be made “self-proving,” which must be done in front of a notary or any officer authorized to administer oaths.
To make a will self-proving, any attesting witnesses may make and sign an affidavit (in front of a notary) stating such facts as he or she would be required to testify to in an uncontested probate proceeding concerning the will. Ark. Code § 28-25-106.
By making a will self-proving, the affidavit can be accepted by the Arkansas court with the same effect as if the testimony of the witness had been taken before the court. This makes the process of admitting the will to probate easier if the proceeding is uncontested.
Working with an Arkansas probate lawyer is the best way to make sure you have created a valid Arkansas will that carries out your testamentary intent.