An affidavit is a written statement made or taken under oath before a notary, an officer of the court, or any other person authorized to administer such an oath.
Though not strictly required by Washington law, it is best for the witnesses to the signing of a will to also sign an affidavit (known as a “self-proving affidavit”), which verifies that:
- the testator signed and executed the will, in their presence;
- the testator declared the document to be his or her will;
- the testator requested that the witnesses sign the same as witnesses; and
- the testator was of legal age, appeared to be of sound and disposing mind, and was not acting under duress, menace, fraud, undue influence, or misrepresentation, when he or she signed and executed the will.
After the death of the testator, to begin probate, the court must first determine whether or not the will is valid. As part of this process, the court will seek the testimony of the witnesses to verify the items listed above. A self-proving affidavit that is properly made when a will is executed contains the testimony of the witnesses, usually making it unnecessary to seek out the witnesses to verify the circumstances of the will-signing.