New York attorneys are encouraged to attach a “living” or self-executing affidavit to the wills they draft and supervise. This is a sworn statement by the witnesses to the will, attesting to the competence of the maker of the will, and that the will was signed in the presence of both witnesses and under the supervision of the attorney. By using this affidavit, there is no need to locate the will’s witnesses and obtain witness affadavits from them before the will can be admitted to probate. This eliminates the problems which may arise when witnesses die, become incompetent or disappear. You can easily tell if a will contains a self-executing affidavit. It is a separate statement on a page following the last page of the will which will normally contain the signatures of the testator as well as the witnesses. In addition to being clearly labeled as an affidavit, it will be followed by the stamp of the notary who has notarized the signatures . Years ago, lawyers often omitted these affidavits on the theory that families would have to return to them to find the witnesses, thereby giving them the opportunity to represent the estate. Sometime ago, a client brought me her mother’s will to offer for probate after the woman had passed away. One of the witnesses was also dead. The second witness had been the legal secretary and wife of the attorney-draftsman who had prepared the will in 1980. By the time the will was brought to me, the law office had been closed and the legal secretary was long-divorced from her husband. It was necessary to hire a private detective to find our missing witness. Most amazing is that he did indeed locate the woman who –believe it or not– was working as a bush pilot flying in Kenya! Ultimately, we got our witness affadavit and the will was admitted to probate. Even though I love telling this story, it was not all that much fun while it was unfolding.A huge waste of time and money could have been easily avoided had a self- executing affidavit been used by the attorney who prepared the will.