An Alabama Last Will and Testament does not have to be “self-proving” to be valid, but it certainly makes things easier.
In general, a will that is “self-proving” is admitted to probate without the need for additional proof that the will was executed in accordance with Alabama law.
We say “in general” because evidence of fraud or forgery will of course prevent a will from being admitted as self-proving.
If a will is not self-proving then affidavits or other evidence proving the testator’s (will maker’s) signature will need to be submitted.
This additional evidence can be difficult to obtain if the will was signed many years ago.
Alabama Code §43-8-132 provides a sample form for a self-proving attestation on a will.
If a will is executed in “substantially the following form” then it will be self-proving under Alabama law:
[TESTATOR:] “I, _____, the testator, sign my name to this instrument this ______ day of _____, 19__, and being first duly sworn, do hereby declare to the undersigned authority that I sign and execute this instrument as my last will and that I sign it willingly (or willingly direct another to sign for me), that I execute it as my free and voluntary act for the purposes therein expressed, and that I am 18 years of age or older, of sound mind, and under no constraint or undue influence.”
[TWO WITNESSES:] “We, _____, the witnesses, sign our names to this instrument, being first duly sworn, and do hereby declare to the undersigned authority that the testator signs and executes this instrument as his last will and that he signs it willingly (or willingly directs another to sign for him), and that each of us, in the presence and hearing of the testator, hereby signs this will as witness to the testator’s signing, and that to the best of our knowledge the testator is 18 years of age or older, of sound mind, and under no constraint or undue influence.”
[Witnesses’ Names and Addresses]
State of Alabama
County of [COUNTY NAME]
Subscribed, sworn to and acknowledged before me by [TESTATOR NAME], the testator, and subscribed and sworn to before me by [FIRST WITNESS NAME], and [SECOND WITNESS NAME],
witnesses, this [DATE] day of [MONTH], [YEAR].
My Commission Expires:___________________
If the will is self-proved in accordance with Ala. Code §43-8-132 then compliance with signature requirements for execution is conclusively presumed, other requirements of execution are presumed subject to rebuttal without the testimony of any witness, and the will shall be probated without further proof.
While a will does not have to be “self-proving” to be valid in Alabama, it is standard practice to make wills self-proving, and for good reason. If a will is not self-proving in Alabama then additional evidence will need to be submitted and a hearing will be held. This process costs your estate avoidable legal fees and causes unnecessary delays.
An experienced Alabama estate planning attorney will make sure that your will is self-proving so that the probate process is as easy as possible for the loved ones you leave behind.
If you’re ready to get peace of mind by preparing your estate plan, call Lewis, Lewis & Falkner today at 205-553-5353 or come by our Tuscaloosa office to meet our attorneys. There is no charge for your initial consultation.
Lewis, Lewis & Falkner, LLC. | Attorneys at Law | 2224 15th Street Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Phone: +205 553 5353 | Fax: +205 553 5593
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