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Requirements for a Last Will and Testament

Requirements for a Valid Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament transfers a person’s property upon their death. The requirements for a Last Will and Testament are set forth in Arizona law.
Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 14-2501 states the basic rule for when a person can sign a last will and testament. That statute states, “A person who is eighteen years of age or older and who is of sound mind may make a will.” The “testator” is the one adopting the Will. To be valid the person must:
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have testamentary intent. In other words, the person must intend to give instructions for what will happen to their property when they die.
  • Have testamentary capacity. That means that the person has a sound mind.
  • Not be unduly influenced. In other words, no one can be pressuring the person to the sign the document.
  • Sign the will or have someone else sign it at his direction.

Creating a legally-binding Last Will and Testament in Arizona is an important step to ensure your wishes are followed after you pass away. In this guide, we’ll cover the legal requirements for a  Last Will and Testament in Arizona, as well as the steps to complete one.

Be at least 18 Years of Age

In Arizona, an individual must be at least 18 years of age and considered mentally competent in order to create a valid Last Will and Testament. If someone under the age of 18 drafts a will, it is void. 

Be of Sound Mind and Memory

The individual must be of sound mind and memory when executing their Last Will and Testament. This means that the person must understand what they are doing, why they are doing it and the effects of writing a will. There is no specific cognitive test to prove competency. However, witnesses can provide testimony in court as to whether or not they believe the person was competent at the time of signing their Last Will and Testament.

Make the Document in Writing

All type-written Last Will and Testament documents must be created in writing, signed by the testator (the person writing the will) with two competent witnesses present, and properly dated.  Witnesses should be 18 or over and cannot stand to gain anything from the will. Neither witness can be a spouse of the testator. This document should detail all instructions of how possessions are to be distributed upon death, guardianships established if necessary, and any other wishes that should be carried out in relation to estate planning.

Sign the Document in the Presence of Witnesses

For a valid Last Will and Testament in Arizona, the testator (the person writing the will) must sign the document in front of 2 competent witnesses. (The exception to this is holographic wills, which are discussed below.) Witnesses must be at least 18 years of age, neither can stand to gain anything from the Will, and neither can be married to the testator. 

Execute a Self-Proving Affidavit

To further evidence the validity of your Last Will and Testament, you should execute a Self-Proving Affidavit. This is a sworn statement made by both witnesses in front of a notary. It’s included with the will when signed and is generally provided at no cost. As long as it is executed properly, a self-proving affidavit removes the burden of having to collect witness signatures if the document ever goes to probate court.

Hand-written Wills (aka Holographic Wills)

Some people prefer to write out their wills by hand. We don’t recommend that, because it can lead to ambiguities (and future litigation among heirs). However, if you are going to do it, here are some pointers on how to make sure your hand-written document meets the requirements for a Last Will and Testament.

What is a Holographic Will?

A holographic will is a valid and enforceable way of creating a written will in Arizona, that does not require the use of any witnesses. It’s an unofficial document, handwritten, that needs to meet certain requirements in order to be valid according to Arizona law. The most important thing is that the documents must be dated and signed by the testator (the person writing the will).

How to Meet the Requirements of a Holographic Will in Arizona

In order to successfully create a holographic will in Arizona, the document must be handwritten, dated, and signed by the testator. Additionally, it must clearly name an executor who is responsible for carrying out the instructions written in the will. Furthermore, it must comply with all other regular will requirements, including distributing assets according to state law. Once complete, the holographic will should be stored in a safe place so that your named executor will find it later.

Let Us Help You.

We can help make sure you comply with the requirements for a Last Will and Testament. Attorney Paul Deloughery has been doing estate planning since 2001. Just give us a call at 602-443-4888. We’re here to help.


Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.


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