Upon the death of the testator or testatrix, the will is probated. This is the legal process which establishes the genuineness of the will. It is done by the surrogate in the county where the testator or testatrix resides at the time of death.
The executor, executrix or personal representative is appointed by going to the Surrogate Court with the will, a death certificate, and one of the witnesses.
If the “attestation” clause (where the witnesses sign) is properly worded, only one of the witnesses need be present when a will is probated. If the attestation clause is not correct, both witnesses must be present. If both witnesses are dead, and there is one attestation clause, the will can be probated by proving their signatures. If they have moved away, the surrogate can appoint a commissioner where the witnesses reside to take their testimony.
If an Affidavit of Testator and witnesses is acknowledged by a Notary Public, the witnesses need not appear at the time of probate.