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Sec. 13.16.080. Informal probate or appointment proceedings; application; contents.

(a) Applications for informal probate or informal appointment shall be directed to the registrar, and verified by the applicant to be accurate and complete to the best of the applicant's knowledge and belief as to the following information:

(1) every application for informal probate of a will or for informal appointment of a personal representative other than a special or successor representative, must contain the following:

(A) a statement of the interest of the applicant;

(B) the name and age of the decedent, the date of death of the decedent, the judicial district and state of the decedent's domicile at the time of death, and the names and addresses of the spouse, children, heirs, and devisees and the ages of any who are minors so far as known or ascertainable with reasonable diligence by the applicant;

(C) if the decedent was not domiciled in the state at the time of death, a statement showing venue;

(D) a statement identifying and indicating the address of any personal representative of the decedent appointed in this state or elsewhere whose appointment has not been terminated;

(E) a statement indicating whether the applicant has received a demand for notice, or is aware of any demand for notice of any probate or appointment proceeding concerning the decedent that may have been filed in this state or elsewhere;

(F) a statement that the time limit for informal probate as provided in AS 13.16.080 - 13.16.130 has not expired either because three years or less have passed since the decedent's death, or, if more than three years from death have passed, that circumstances as described by AS 13.16.040 authorizing tardy probate or appointment have occurred;

(2) an application for informal probate of a will must state the following in addition to the statements required by (1) of this subsection:

(A) that the original of the decedent's last will is in the possession of the court, or accompanies the application, or that an authenticated copy of a will probated in another jurisdiction accompanies the application;

(B) that the applicant, to the best of the applicant's knowledge, believes the will to have been validly executed;

(C) that after the exercise of reasonable diligence, the applicant is unaware of any instrument revoking the will, and that the applicant believes that the instrument that is the subject of the application is the decedent's last will;

(3) an application for informal appointment of a personal representative to administer an estate under a will must describe the will by date of execution and state the time and place of probate or the pending application or petition for probate; the application for appointment must adopt the statements in the application or petition for probate and state the name, address, and priority for appointment of the person whose appointment is sought;

(4) an application for informal appointment of an administrator in intestacy must state in addition to the statements required by (1) of this subsection:

(A) that after the exercise of reasonable diligence the applicant is unaware of any unrevoked testamentary instrument relating to property having a situs in this state under AS 13.06.060 , or a statement why any such instrument of which the applicant may be aware is not being probated;

(B) the priority of the person whose appointment is sought and the names of any other persons having a prior or equal right to the appointment under AS 13.16.065 ;

(5) an application for appointment of a personal representative to succeed a personal representative appointed under a different testacy status must refer to the order in the most recent testacy proceeding, state the name and address of the person whose appointment is sought and of the person whose appointment will be terminated if the application is granted, and describe the priority of the applicant;

(6) an application for appointment of a personal representative to succeed a personal representative who has tendered a resignation as provided in AS 13.16.290 (c), or whose appointment has been terminated by death or removal, must adopt the statements in the application or petition that led to the appointment of the person being succeeded except as specifically changed or corrected, state the name and address of the person who seeks appointment as successor, and describe the priority of the applicant.

(b) By verifying an application for informal probate or informal appointment, the applicant submits personally to the jurisdiction of the court in any proceeding for relief from fraud relating to the application, or for perjury, that may be instituted against the applicant.

Sec. 13.16.085. Informal probate; duty of registrar; effect of informal probate.

Upon receipt of an application requesting informal probate of a will, the registrar, upon making the findings required by AS 13.16.090 , shall issue a written statement of informal probate if at least 120 hours have elapsed since the decedent's death. Informal probate is conclusive as to all persons until superseded by an order in a formal testacy proceeding. No defect in the application or procedure relating to it that leads to informal probate of a will renders the probate void.

Sec. 13.16.090. Informal probate; proof and findings required.

(a) In an informal proceeding for original probate of a will, the registrar shall determine whether

(1) the application is complete;

(2) the applicant has made oath or affirmation that the statements contained in the application are true to the best of the applicant's knowledge and belief;

(3) the applicant appears from the application to be an interested person as defined in AS 13.06.050 ;

(4) on the basis of the statements in the application, venue is proper;

(5) an original, duly executed and apparently unrevoked will is in the registrar's possession;

(6) any notice required by AS 13.16.070 has been given and that the application is not within AS 13.16.095 ; and

(7) it appears from the application that the time limit for original probate has not expired.

(b) The application shall be denied if it indicates that a personal representative has been appointed in another judicial district of this state or, except as provided in (d) of this section, if it appears that this or another will of the decedent has been the subject of a previous probate order.

(c) A will that appears to have the required signatures and that contains an attestation clause showing that requirements of execution under AS 13.12.502 or 13.12.506 have been met shall be probated without further proof. In other cases, the registrar may assume execution if the will appears to have been properly executed, or the registrar may accept a sworn statement or affidavit of a person having knowledge of the circumstances of execution, whether or not the person was a witness to the will.

(d) Informal probate of a will that has been previously probated elsewhere may be granted at any time upon written application by any interested person, together with deposit of an authenticated copy of the will and of the statement probating it from the office or court where it was first probated.

(e) A will from a place that does not provide for probate of a will after death and that is not eligible for probate under (a) of this section, may be probated in this state upon receipt by the registrar of a duly authenticated copy of the will and a duly authenticated certificate of its legal custodian that the copy filed is a true copy and that the will has become operative under the law of the other place.

Sec. 13.16.095. Informal probate; unavailable in certain cases.

Applications for informal probate that relate to one or more of a known series of testamentary instruments, other than wills and codicils, the latest of which does not expressly revoke the earlier, shall be declined.

Sec. 13.16.100. Informal probate; registrar not satisfied.

If the registrar is not satisfied that a will is entitled to be probated in informal proceedings because of failure to meet the requirements of AS 13.16.090 and 13.16.095 or any other reason, the registrar may decline the application. A declination of informal probate is not an adjudication and does not preclude formal probate proceedings.

Sec. 13.16.105. Informal probate; notice requirements; information distribution.

(a) The moving party must give notice as described by AS 13.06.110 of the party's application for informal probate (1) to any person demanding it under AS 13.16.070 , and (2) to any personal representative of the decedent whose appointment has not been terminated. No other notice of informal probate is required.

(b) If an informal probate is granted, within 30 days the applicant shall give written information of the probate to the heirs and devisees. The information shall include the name and address of the applicant, the name and location of the court granting the informal probate, and the date of the probate. The information shall be delivered or sent by ordinary mail to each of the heirs and devisees whose address is reasonably available to the applicant. No duty to give information is incurred if a personal representative is appointed who is required to give the written information required by AS 13.16.360. An applicant's failure to give information as required by this section is a breach of a duty to the heirs and devisees but does not affect the validity of the probate.

Sec. 13.16.110. Informal appointment proceedings; delay in order; duty of registrar; effect of appointment.

(a) Upon receipt of an application for informal appointment of a personal representative other than a special administrator as provided in AS 13.16.310 , if at least 120 hours have elapsed since the decedent's death, the registrar, after making the findings required by AS 13.16.115 , shall appoint the applicant subject to qualification and acceptance; however, if the decedent was a nonresident, the registrar shall delay the order of appointment until 30 days have elapsed since death unless the personal representative appointed at the decedent's domicile is the applicant, or unless the decedent's will directs that the estate be subject to the laws of this state.

(b) The status of personal representative and the powers and duties pertaining to the office are fully established by informal appointment. An appointment, and the office of personal representative created thereby, is subject to termination as provided in AS 13.16.280 - 13.16.300, but is not subject to retroactive vacation.

Sec. 13.16.115. Informal appointment proceedings; determinations required; denial of application.

(a) In informal appointment proceedings, the registrar must determine whether

(1) the application for informal appointment of a personal representative is complete;

(2) the applicant has made oath or affirmation that the statements contained in the application are true to the best of the applicant's knowledge and belief;

(3) the applicant appears from the application to be an interested person as defined in AS 13.06.050 ;

(4) on the basis of the statements in the application, venue is proper;

(5) any will to which the requested appointment relates has been formally or informally probated; but this requirement does not apply to the appointment of a special administrator;

(6) any notice required by AS 13.16.070 has been given;

(7) from the statements in the application, the person whose appointment is sought has priority entitling the person to the appointment.

(b) Unless AS 13.16.300 controls, the application must be denied if it indicates that a personal representative who has not filed a written statement of resignation as provided in AS 13.16.290 (c) has been appointed in a judicial district of this state, that, unless the applicant is the domiciliary personal representative or the personal representative's nominee, the decedent was not domiciled in this state and that a personal representative whose appointment has not been terminated has been appointed by a court in the state of domicile, or that other requirements of this section have not been met.

Sec. 13.16.120. Informal appointment proceedings; registrar not satisfied.

If the registrar is not satisfied that a requested informal appointment of a personal representative should be made because of failure to meet the requirements of AS 13.16.110 and 13.16.115, or for any other reason, the registrar may decline the application. A declination of informal appointment is not an adjudication and does not preclude appointment in formal proceedings.

Sec. 13.16.125. Informal appointment proceedings; notice requirements.

The moving party must give notice as described by AS 13.06.110 of intention to seek an appointment informally (1) to any person demanding it under AS 13.16.070 ; and (2) to any person having a prior or equal right to appointment not waived in writing and filed with the court. No other notice of an informal appointment proceeding is required.

Sec. 13.16.130. Informal appointment unavailable in certain cases.

If an application for informal appointment indicates the existence of a possible unrevoked testamentary instrument that may relate to property subject to the laws of this state, and that is not filed for probate in this court, the registrar shall decline the application.

Article 04. FORMAL TESTACY AND APPOINTMENT PROCEEDINGS

Sec. 13.16.140. Formal testacy proceedings; nature; when commenced.

(a) A formal testacy proceeding is litigation to determine whether a decedent left a valid will. A formal testacy proceeding may be commenced by an interested person filing a petition as described in AS 13.16.145 (a) in which the person requests that the court, after notice and hearing, enter an order probating a will, or a petition to set aside an informal probate of a will or to prevent informal probate of a will that is the subject of a pending application, or a petition in accordance with AS 13.16.145 (b) for an order that the decedent died intestate.

(b) A petition may seek formal probate of a will without regard to whether the same or a conflicting will has been informally probated. A formal testacy proceeding may, but need not, involve a request for appointment of a personal representative.

(c) During the pendency of a formal testacy proceeding, the registrar shall not act upon any application for informal probate of any will of the decedent or any application for informal appointment of a personal representative of the decedent.

(d) Unless a petition in a formal testacy proceeding also requests confirmation of the previous informal appointment, a previously appointed personal representative, after receipt of notice of the commencement of a formal probate proceeding, must refrain from exercising the power to make any further distribution of the estate during the pendency of the formal proceeding. A petitioner who seeks the appointment of a different personal representative in a formal proceeding also may request an order restraining the acting personal representative from exercising any of the personal representative's powers of office and requesting the appointment of a special administrator. In the absence of a request, or if the request is denied, the commencement of a formal proceeding has no effect on the powers and duties of a previously appointed personal representative other than those relating to distribution.

Sec. 13.16.145. Formal testacy or appointment proceedings; petition; contents.

(a) Petitions for formal probate of a will, or for adjudication of intestacy with or without request for appointment of a personal representative, must be directed to the court, request a judicial order after notice and hearing, and contain further statements as indicated in this section. A petition for formal probate of a will must

(1) request an order as to the testacy of the decedent in relation to a particular instrument which may or may not have been informally probated and determining the heirs;

(2) contain the statements required for informal applications as stated in AS 13.16.080 (a)(1)(A)-(E), the statements required by AS 13.16.080(a)(2)(B) and (C); and

(3) state whether the original of the last will of the decedent is in the possession of the court or accompanies the petition.

(b) If the original will is neither in the possession of the court nor accompanies the petition and no authenticated copy of a will probated in another jurisdiction accompanies the petition, the petition also must state the contents of the will, and indicate that it is lost, destroyed, or otherwise unavailable.

(c) A petition for adjudication of intestacy and appointment of an administrator in intestacy must request a judicial finding and order that the decedent left no will and determining the heirs, contain the statements required by AS 13.16.080 (a)(1) and (4) and indicate whether supervised administration is sought. A petition may request an order determining intestacy and heirs without requesting the appointment of an administrator, in which case, the statements required by AS 13.16.080(a)(4)(B) may be omitted.

Sec. 13.16.150. Formal testacy proceeding; notice of hearing on petition.

(a) Upon commencement of a formal testacy proceeding, the court shall fix a time and place of hearing. Notice shall be given in the manner prescribed by AS 13.06.110 by the petitioner to the persons enumerated in this subsection and to any additional person who has filed a demand for notice under AS 13.16.070 . Notice shall be given to the following persons: (1) the surviving spouse, children, and other heirs of the decedent; (2) the devisees and executors named in any will that is being, or has been probated or offered for informal or formal probate in the judicial district, or that is known by the petitioner to have been probated or offered for informal or formal probate elsewhere; and (3) any personal representative of the decedent whose appointment has not been terminated. Notice may be given to other persons. In addition, the petitioner shall give notice by publication to all unknown persons and to all known persons whose addresses are unknown who have any interest in the matters being litigated.

(b) If it appears by the petition or otherwise that the fact of the death of the alleged decedent may be in doubt, or on the written demand of any interested person, a copy of the notice of the hearing on the petition shall be sent by registered mail to the alleged decedent at the last known address of the alleged decedent. The court shall direct the petitioner to report the results of, or make and report back concerning, a reasonably diligent search for the alleged decedent in any manner that may seem advisable, including any or all of the following methods: (1) by inserting in one or more suitable periodicals a notice requesting information from any person having knowledge of the whereabouts of the alleged decedent; (2) by notifying law enforcement officials and public welfare agencies in appropriate locations of the disappearance of the alleged decedent; (3) by engaging the services of an investigator; the costs of any search so directed shall be paid by the petitioner if there is no administration or by the estate of the decedent in case there is administration.

Sec. 13.16.155. Formal testacy proceedings; written objections to probate.

Any party to a formal proceeding who opposes the probate of a will for any reason shall state in the pleadings the objections to probate of the will.

Sec. 13.16.160. Formal testacy proceedings; uncontested cases; hearings and proof.

If a petition in a testacy proceeding is unopposed, the court may order probate or intestacy on the strength of the pleadings if satisfied that the conditions of AS 13.16.180 have been met, or conduct a hearing in open court and require proof of the matters necessary to support the order sought. If evidence concerning execution of the will is necessary, the affidavit or testimony of one of any attesting witnesses to the instrument is sufficient. If the affidavit or testimony of an attesting witness is not available, execution of the will may be proved by other evidence or affidavit.

Sec. 13.16.165. Formal testacy proceedings; contested cases; testimony of attesting witnesses.

(a) If evidence concerning execution of an attested will that is not self-proved is necessary in contested cases, the testimony of at least one of the attesting witnesses, if within the state, competent, and able to testify, is required. Due execution of an attested or unattested will may be proved by other evidence.

(b) If the will is self-proved, compliance with signature requirements for execution is conclusively presumed and other requirements of execution are presumed subject to rebuttal without the testimony of any witness upon filing the will and the acknowledgment and affidavits annexed or attached to it, unless there is proof of fraud or forgery affecting the acknowledgment or affidavit.

Sec. 13.16.170. Formal testacy proceedings; burdens in contested cases.

In contested cases, petitioners who seek to establish intestacy have the burden of establishing prima facie proof of death, venue, and heirship. Proponents of a will have the burden of establishing prima facie proof of due execution in all cases, and if they are also petitioners, prima facie proof of death and venue. Contestants of a will have the burden of establishing lack of testamentary intent or capacity, undue influence, fraud, duress, mistake, or revocation. Parties have the ultimate burden of persuasion as to matters with respect to which they have the initial burden of proof. If a will is opposed by the petition for probate of a later will revoking the former, it shall be determined first whether the later will is entitled to probate, and if a will is opposed by a petition for a declaration of intestacy, it shall be determined first whether the will is entitled to probate.

Sec. 13.16.175. Formal testacy proceedings; will construction; effect of final order in another jurisdiction.

Subject to AS 13.06.068 , a final order of a court of another state determining testacy, the validity, or construction of a will made in a proceeding involving notice to and an opportunity for contest by all interested persons must be accepted as determinative by the courts of this state if it includes, or is based upon, a finding that the decedent was domiciled at death in the state where the order was made.

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