Preparing Your Own Will

An attorney is the best person to help you write your Will, but if no attorney is available you can write your own Will. This Classroom goes over the basics of what a will does, how your property would be distributed if you don't have a will, describes the contents of each section in a standard will, and provides Alaska specific information that is important to consider if writing your own will. A sample will is provided at the end of the classroom that can be used as a guideline in writing a will for yourself.

The Contents of Your Will: Signature and Witnessing


Preparing Your Will

Signature, Witnessing, and Attestation Clauses

The law has very technical requirements as to how a Will should be signed, witnessed, and attested. It is best that you find a lawyer to help you with this, but you can do it on your own if you take special care to follow the directions exactly.


You must sign your Will with at least two witnesses watching you sign. The witnesses must also sign the Will, and they should be sure to watch each other sign. In choosing your witnesses, you should select adults who are not mentioned in the Will. The only exception to this rule is when you have a handwritten Will.

In Alaska, a Will may be simultaneously executed, witnessed, and made “self-proved.” A self-proved Will is a Will in which at least two witnesses take an oath, included in the Will, at the time the Will was signed, and in which both the witnesses' and the decedent's signatures were notarized by a qualified notary public.

Although a self-proving clause is not required, it serves two very important functions. First, it dispenses with the need for witnesses to testify in court as to whether the execution procedures were properly carried. Secondly, it acts as a checklist of the requirements of due execution. In other words, this helps prove that your signature was authentic and that you signed your Will voluntarily, so it is strongly recommend that your Will include this self-proving clause. 

You can find a sample of a self-proving clause in the Related Resources at the end of this document, titled “Self-Proving Clause (non-Native)”

Federal requirements for Alaska Natives

If you are an Alaska Native who owns or may eventually own an allotment, restricted townsite property, or reindeer, your Will has to meet special federal requirements which include a special self-proving affidavit.

  1. You must be 18 when you make your Will;
  2. Your witnesses cannot be a relative or be a beneficiary of your Will; and
  3. You must include the special Self-Proving Affidavit for Trust Property.

You can find a sample of a self-proving affidavit in the Related Resources at the end of this document, titled “Self-Proving Will Affidavit (BIA)”

Last Review and Update: Mar 21, 2017
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