Alaska

Alaska Last Will & Testament Information

By Ruth Sturdy

Putting together a Last Will and Testament in Alaska is important in organising the distribution of your assets upon your death. This can include property, cash assets and even pet care, which you can pass on to your family, friends and loved ones.

Having an Alaskan Last Will allows the testator an opportunity to choose an executor of the estate. You are also able to create a pet trust which will ensure after death, that your pet is cared for. In Alaska the pet trust must last for 21 years or less, and end once the last animal covered by this trust has died. 

An Alaska Last Will & Testament includes the following requirements: 

  • The testator must be eighteen years old or older.  
  • They must also be of ‘sound mind’.
  • The Will must be signed by the testator or by someone else in their name (provided it is done under the testator’s direction and in their presence).
  • The signing of the Will requires at least two witnesses in order to make it valid. ​
  • Another requirement to make the Will valid is that it must be in written format.

An Alaska resident may bequeath their assets to any beneficiaries.

If you die before creating a will, you are ‘intestate’. In Alaska, this generally means that the spouse will inherit the deceased assets entirely, unless there are surviving children which the spouse does not share. If you die without a spouse, then other relatives will inherit the estate, such as siblings and grandparents. 

It is also good to know that Alaskan law recognizes handwritten (holographic) wills as long as they are put together in accordance with Alaskan law and are in the testator’s handwriting. 

In the state of Alaska, you do not need to notarize (verify with a notary) your will to make it legal, however, you are permitted to self-prove your document here, which requires the assistance of a notary. Self-proving a will speeds up the probate process as the court can accept the document without having to contact the witness who signed it. In order to do this, you and your witnesses have to go to a notary and sign an affidavit proving your identity and the fact that each of you had sound knowledge that you were signing the will. 

When you submit a will for probate, you have to prove that the deceased met the following requirements when they wrote the document:

  • They signed the will voluntarily, without influence.
  • They were of sound mind.
  • They were 18+ years old. 

Alaska permits an nuncupative (oral) wills in certain circumstances. These are only valid for:

  • A mariner at sea
  • A soldier in the military service

It is only valid for personal property as stated by common law. It must also be proved within 6 months of the words being spoken or turned into a written will within 30 days.  

The following is a list of things you are able to do with your estate if you write a will:

  • You can bequeath all your property to your surviving spouse. Note that without a will, your spouse will usually share your estate with either your children, parents or grandchildren.
  • You may also leave your property to friends.
  • You are able to grant your property to a partner, even if you are not married to them.
  • You can choose to give your assets to a charity of your choosing.
  • If you so choose, you may bequeath your assets in unequal shares. For example, you could leave more or less to a particular child. 
  • You can also prevent specific people from inheriting any part of your estate, such as a child or sibling.
  • You may leave assets in a trust, meaning a person does not inherit it all at once.

Click here if you have any questions about creating a last will in Alaska.

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