By Shanna N. Yonke
November 3, 2022
In her latest vlog, Estate Planning Attorney Shanna Yonke shares what a self-proving affidavit is and why having one makes it easier for your loved one after your death.
My name is Shanna Yonke and I’m an attorney on Ruder Ware’s Estate Planning Team. To make a valid will in Wisconsin you must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. If you meet these prerequisites, you can make a will. The will must be in writing and signed in accordance with certain formalities.
First, you need to sign the will. Alternatively, you can direct someone else to sign the will on your behalf, in your conscious presence, or someone else can help you sign the will. And second, two witnesses must sign your will within a reasonable time after you sign the will in their conscious presence, or within a reusable period of time after you direct the witnesses that it is your will and that it is your signature on the will. This is all it takes to create a valid will. It is simple and easy.
There’s one additional formality that you may want to consider when signing will, this is called a self-proving affidavit. In a self-proving affidavit, you and the witnesses make sworn statements that: the document is your will; you voluntarily sign the will, or you voluntarily directed someone else to sign the will in your conscious presence; you are at least 18 years old and of sound mind; and, nobody is forcing you to sign the will, or inappropriately influencing you to sign the will. It’s most common to sign the self-proving affidavit simultaneously with signing the will, but the self-proving affidavit may be signed by you and your witnesses at any time after making a valid will.
So, why would you include a self-proving affidavit in a will? Well, if your will doesn’t include a self-proving affidavit, then your loved ones have to prove your will before the will may be admitted to probate after your death. This means that at least one of your witnesses will need to testify to the same statements that are in a self-proving affidavit at a court hearing. If neither of your witnesses are available to testify, the court will hear testimony from other individuals who may have relevant information, and the court will decide whether your will may be admitted to probate.
If you have a self-proving affidavit on the other hand, your will will be admitted to probate without a court hearing and without any testimony or other evidence. It makes probate a lot easier for your loved ones after your death. If you have questions regarding self-proving affidavits, please contact any member of Ruder Ware’s Estate Planning Team.
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