Since wills are legal documents, they come with a set of rules to be considered valid. In order for a will to be considered valid in Arizona, it must be in writing, signed by the testator in the testator’s name or someone else in the testator’s conscious presence and by the testator’s direction, signed by at least two witnesses, and the testator must have intended the document to be his or her will. A.R.S. § 14-2502. The witness requirement can sometimes be complex, but it is pretty simple in Arizona.

What are the specific witness requirements for a will?

As stated in Arizona statute, you must have at least two witnesses. These witnesses must be competent, which is not too hard of a bar to meet. Basically, both witnesses should be adults over age 18.1 The witnesses must then sign the will in the presence of both each other and the testator.2 Further, the witnesses need to sign within a reasonable time after the witnesses watch the testator’s signing the will or have the testator’s acknowledgment of the signature or acknowledgement of the will. A.R.S. § 14-2502(A)(3).

The common law interested witness rule used to say that if a witness was “interested,” which means that witness was provided with some assets or a bequest under the will, then the will could be invalidated. It is preferable not to have interested witnesses when you are preparing a will. However, Arizona does not have an interested witness rule. Therefore, even if one or both of your witnesses are beneficiaries, your will is not going to be held invalid. A.R.S. § 14-2505.

Do I have to have witnesses?

In Arizona, you do have an option to make a will without the witness requirement. The only surefire option to have a valid will without witnesses, which is not available in all states, is to have a holographic (i.e. handwritten) will. The requirements for a holographic will are that the signature and the material provisions of the will are in the handwriting of the testator. A.R.S. §14-2503. Witnesses are not required for a holographic will to be valid. For holographic wills, intent that the document is the testator’s will can be proven by extrinsic evidence (including portions of the document that are not in the testator’s handwriting). A.R.S. §14-2502(B).

What about self-proving wills?

Wills can also have self-proving affidavits attached to them, but it does require some witnessing. A will does not need to be notarized in Arizona, but it is recommended so that it can be “self proved.” In Arizona you can simultaneously create your will, attest to it, and make it self-proving by acknowledgment and by affidavits of witnesses if the acknowledgment and affidavits are made before an officer authorized to administer oaths under the laws of the state you executed your will in. A.R.S. § 14-2504(A). You can achieve a self-proving will at the time of execution by attaching the following affidavit and by following the above procedure:

I, _______________, the testator, sign my name to this instrument this _____ day of _______________, and being first duly sworn, do declare to the undersigned authority that I sign and execute this instrument as my 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 expressed in that document and that I am eighteen years of age or older, of sound mind and under no constraint or undue influence.
_______________________
Testator

We, _______________, _______________, the witnesses, sign our names to this instrument being first duly sworn and do declare to the undersigned authority that the testator signs and executes this instrument as his/her will and that he/she signs it willingly, or willingly directs another to sign for him/her, and that each of us, in the presence and hearing of the testator, signs this will as witness to the testator’s signing and that to the best of our knowledge the testator is eighteen years of age or older, of sound mind and under no constraint or undue influence.
____________________
Witness
____________________
Witness
The State of ______________
County of _________________
Subscribed, sworn to and acknowledged before me by _______________, the testator, and subscribed and sworn to before me by _______________ and _______________, witnesses, this _____ day of _______________.
(Seal)
(Signed)______________________
______________________________
(Official capacity of officer)

A.R.S. § 14-2504(A).

You do not have to make your will self-proving at the time you create it, though. An attested will can be made self-proving later on in front of an officer authorized to administer oaths, with witness affidavits, and include both the evidence of the officer’s certificate under official seal and the attached or annexed copy of the following form:

The State of _______________
County of __________________
We, _____________________, _____________________ and _______________, the testator and the witnesses, respectively, whose names are signed to the attached or foregoing instrument being first duly sworn do declare to the undersigned authority that the testator signed and executed the instrument as the testator’s will and that he/she signed willingly, or willingly directed another to sign for him/her, and that he/she executed it as his/her free and voluntary act for the purposes expressed in that document, and that each of the witnesses, in the presence and hearing of the testator, signed the will as witness and that to the best of his/her knowledge the testator was at that time eighteen years of age or older, of sound mind and under no constraint or undue influence.
_________________________
Testator
_________________________
Witness
_________________________
Witness
Subscribed, sworn to and acknowledged before me by _______________, the testator, and subscribed and sworn to before me by _______________ and _______________, witnesses, this _____ day of _______________.
(Seal)
(Signed)______________________
______________________________
(Official capacity of officer)

A.R.S. § 14-2504(B).

You would then sign the above self-proving affidavit, which could then be used as a signature attached to your will if a problem in your will’s execution comes up. A.R.S. §14-2504(C). You do not have to use the above forms, and you can have your own drafted. This is merely sample language provided by statute. A self-proving affidavit is also not required for your will to be considered valid, but it helps. If a will is self-proven, then witnesses are not required to testify in court when someone challenges the will’s authenticity.3

1 Mary Randolph, Selling An Estate: Does The Will Appear Valid?, NOLO.COM, http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/settling-estate-will-appear-valid-32437.html (last visited Jan. 21, 2015).

2 10 Common Questions People Ask About Wills, KEYTLAW.COM, http://www.keytlaw.com/arizonawills/wills-faq/ (last visited Jan. 21, 2015).

3 Basic Requirements for a Last Will and Testament in Arizona, RESOURCES.LAWINFO.COM, http://resources.lawinfo.com/estate-planning/wills/arizona/ (last visited Jan. 21, 2015).