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Probate Q&A

What is Probate?
Probate is the process of proving the validity of a will in court. Generally, this must take place within 4 years of death. To probate a will, it must be established in court that the will meets the requirements of execution and that the will was not canceled or revoked.

What is a self-proved will?
A will is considered “self-proved” if it is signed by the testator in the presence of two credible witnesses over the age of 14, who also sign the will in the presence of the testator and before a notary. The will has attached a specific form of affidavit containing certain required statements.  If the will execution is done properly and contains a validly executed self-proving affidavit, there is no need to call witnesses to prove the will.

What if the will is not self-proved?
At a minimum, proof of a hand-written will requires the testimony of two witnesses to the testator’s handwriting. Similarly, proof of a typewritten will requires the testimony of one of the attesting witnesses.  These witnesses would attend a hearing along with the applicant or named executor.

What if the will is not proved in court?
If the will cannot be proved in court, probate is denied and the decedent’s property passes to the heirs as if he or she had died without a will.

The will was proved to be valid – what happens next?
The executor will now carry out the process of administering the estate. (See below for more information.)

The process of probate is much easier when the will is properly executed to meet all legal requirements. Our Estate Plan package includes a will signing ceremony with two witnesses so that your will is self-proved and ready for a simple probate process.


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