Alaska Last Will and Testament Law

Wills and Estates – Last Will and Testament Law – Alaska

Note:This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive discussion of the law of wills in Alaska, but does include basic and other provisions.  Hand-written wills or wills where the testator cannot sign his own name are not included.

Who may make will:

An individual 18 or more years of age who is of sound mind may make a will.13.12.501.

Execution of wills:

A will must be in writing, signed by the testator and signed by at least two individuals, each of whom signs within a reasonable time after the witness witnesses the signing of the will by the testator. 13.12.502

Self-proved will:

A will may be simultaneously executed, attested, and made self-proved, by acknowledgment of the will by the testator and affidavits of the witnesses, each made before an officer authorized to administer oaths under the laws of the state in which execution occurs and evidenced by the officer’s certificate, under official seal, in  a required form. The will you have found contains the required form of certificate.  13.12.504

An individual generally competent to be a witness may act as a witness to a will. The signing of a will by an interested witness does not invalidate the will or a provision of it. 13.12.505

Choice of law as to execution:

A written will is valid if executed in compliance with AS 13.12.502 or if its execution complies with the law at the time of execution of the place where the will is executed or of the law of the place where, at the time of execution or at the time of death, the testator is domiciled, has a place of abode, or is a national. 13.12.506

Revocation by writing or by act:

A will or a part of a will is revoked

(1) by executing a subsequent will that revokes the previous will or part expressly or by inconsistency; or

(2) by performing a revocatory act on the will, if the testator performed the act with the intent and for the purpose of revoking the will or part of the will or if another individual performed the act in the testator’s conscious presence and by the testator’s direction; in this paragraph, “revocatory act on the will” includes burning, tearing, canceling, obliterating, or destroying the will or any part of it; a “revocatory act on the will” includes a burning, tearing, or canceling whether or not the burn, tear, or cancellation touched any of the words on the will. 13.12.507

Incorporation by reference:

A writing in existence when a will is executed may be incorporated by reference if the language of the will manifests this intent and describes the writing sufficiently to permit its identification. 13.12.510

Separate writing identifying devise of certain types of tangible personal property:

A will may refer to a written statement or list to dispose of items of tangible personal property not otherwise specifically disposed of by the will, other than money. To be admissible under this section as evidence of the intended disposition, the writing must be signed by the testator and must describe the items and the devisees with reasonable certainty. The writing may be referred to as one to be in existence at the time of the testator’s death; it may be prepared before or after the execution of the will; it may be altered by the testator after its preparation; and it may be a writing that does not have significance apart from its effect on the dispositions made by the will. 13.12.513

Contracts concerning succession.

A contract to make a will or devise, or not to revoke a will or devise, or to die intestate, if executed after January 1, 1997, may be established only by:

(1) provisions of a will stating material provisions of the contract;

(2) an express reference in a will to a contract and extrinsic evidence proving the terms of the contract; or

(3) a writing signed by the decedent evidencing the contract. The execution of a joint will or mutual wills does not create a presumption of a contract not to revoke the will or wills. 13.12.514

However in Cragle v. Gray, 206 P.3d 446 (Alaska 2009) , the court decided.that an oral agreement between a granddaughter and decedent to transfer the decedent’s house in exchange for the granddaughter’s services was unenforceable because it was not reduced to writing.

Deposit of will with court in testator’s lifetime:

A will may be deposited by the testator or the testator’s agent with a court for safekeeping, under rules of the court. During the testator’s lifetime, the will must be kept confidential. During the testator’s lifetime, a deposited will shall be delivered only to the testator or to a person authorized in writing signed by the testator to receive the will. A conservator may be allowed to examine a deposited will of a protected testator under procedures designed to maintain the confidential character of the document to the extent possible, and to ensure that it will be kept confidential and on deposit after the examination. 13.12.515

Duty of custodian of will; liability:

After the death of a testator and on request of an interested person, a person having custody of a will of the testator shall deliver it with reasonable promptness to a person able to secure its probate and, if the person with custody does not know of a person able to secure the will’s probate, to an appropriate court. A person who wilfully fails to deliver a will is liable to a person aggrieved for any damages that may be sustained by the failure. A person who wilfully refuses or fails to deliver a will after being ordered by the court in a proceeding brought for the purpose of compelling delivery is subject to penalty for contempt of court. 13.12.516

Penalty clause for contest:

A provision in a will purporting to penalize an interested person for contesting the will or instituting other proceedings relating to the estate is unenforceable if probable cause exists for instituting proceedings. 13.12.517


Inside Alaska Last Will and Testament Law