Has it been a long time since you last updated your will? Has it been 15 years? Longer? As previously discussed, there are numerous changes in one’s circumstances that warrant updating a will. Another reason to update your will is related to when it comes time to admit your will for probate after you die. All wills in Georgia should (though are not required to) have a self-proving (or attestation) clause, which is a sworn statement made by the person executing the will (the “testator”), the two witnesses, and the statement is made in the presence of a notary public under seal.
In the past, all wills were executed by the testator and the two witnesses. When it came time to admit the will for probate, the executor (or his/her attorney) would need to hunt down one of the witnesses to the will and have that witness answer written questions under oath, which was to verify the will’s authenticity. These sworn responses would need to be filed along with the will in the probate court in order to formally open an estate. Obviously, a process like this can take considerable time and resources. Witnesses may move, or if the witness was your attorney (or an employee of the attorney), that person may have retired. Both of these instances make hunting witness incredibly difficult. Additionally, witnesses can die during the time between your will execution and your passing. All of this adds to time, money, and trouble for an executor wishing to offer a will for probate.
The rules changed in the past 20 years that made offering a will for probate a lot easier. If there is a self-proving affidavit (as mentioned above) at the end of a will, an executor will be able to offer the will for probate without the need to hunt down one of the original witnesses to the will. This will save the executor a great deal of time and expense. Most wills that are 20 years old (or older), however, do not have this additional sworn statement included.
If your will does not have the self-proving clause, or if it has been 20 years or longer since last updating your will, consider consulting with an estate planning attorney soon. Contact one of the skilled attorneys at The Larsen Firm to schedule a meeting today.