Question 1: What is a self-proving will?
All wills in New York have to be made in writing, signed by the person making it, and signed by two adult witnesses. When the person who made the will dies, a New York Surrogates Court will have to determine if the will meets all legal requirements. At that point, the witnesses will have to testify that they saw the testator sign the will.
In anticipation of this process a testator (a person who makes a will) can have the witnesses sign an affidavit stating that they saw the testator sign the will. This self-proving affidavit accompanies the will when it comes time to prove its validity in court.
Question 2: How do I make a self -proving affidavit?
Most people create their self-proving affidavits at the same time they have the witnesses sign the will. This signing ceremony is easily accomplished when you have a notary present who can identify the two witnesses and have them sign and swear to the affidavit. To do this the witnesses will need to bring proper identification so the notary can accurately identify them.
Question 3: Do I have to make a self-proving affidavit?
No. There is no requirement in New York that when you create a will you also create a self-proving affidavit. However, using this affidavit is very effective and quite helpful because it makes it a lot easier for the estate to go through the probate process.