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Corey Hopkins

Corey Hopkins

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Choosing witnesses for your will is the last piece of the puzzle in making sure that your will is signed and is valid under the law. If you are not writing your will yourself, you should ensure that both you and your witnesses sign or initial each page of your will. As its name suggests, this type of will has to be signed at the same time, facing both witnesses. Only two parties who are entering the settlement need to sign, and no witnesses are required for signatures.
Although a signature does not have any legal requirements for being witnessed, it may be useful as evidence should there be disputes over whether an agreement is valid. A witnessed signature would have little use if a document was signed fraudulently, since this would likely mean the signature was witnessed fraudulently too. The person who witnesses a will needs to be able to confirm that the whole document containing a will exists, that you signed it in their presence, and that they signed it before you. In others, two witnesses need not even see the will-maker sign, so long as the person then informs the witnesses that they signed the will.
The two adult witnesses have to be aware that the document is intended to be the persons will, and must sign it themselves. If witnesses are present, they may go into the courtroom to attest that the person who made the document says it is their will, and they seem to be in good minds and under no undue influence. For instance, if one of your heirs contests the terms of your will, the witnesses may be called in court to testify that they watched you sign the will, and that you appeared to be of sound mind when doing so. It is generally not a problem for a lawyer drafting the will also to act as a witness at the time of signing, even if they are named as the executor and would later benefit by charging fees for doing the work of an executor.
An attorney who is also acting as executor of a will, meaning someone who is overseeing the distribution of your assets and paying any outstanding debts owed by your estate, may be the witness to a will. If you are signing a document at the lawyers office, the lawyer is likely to have witnesses--lawyers at the office, for instance, or people working in a neighboring office. If you are having a lawyer representing you on contingency basis , the attorney usually hires and pays the expert witnesses up front, so that you do not have to repay the lawyer until after the case is finished. Once you draft a valid will, you will need witnesses, typically two adults with good judgment who know you well.
Signed in front of a notary, this document can make the probate process easier, by decreasing the chance that witnesses will be called in front of a court to verify the witness signatures and the validity of the will. Holograph and witnessed wills must be probated by the court or a notary when the person making the will dies. When your will is finally filed with the probate court, witnesses may need to provide written statements, or they can witness in person, stating they saw you sign it and you appeared competent. In most states, you will want to add a self-proving affidavit to your will, which should be signed by your witnesses and witnessed.
If a self-proving affidavit is not part of the document itself, you also sign a self-proving affidavit, under oath, in front of each witness and notary. You may also want to have the notary require witnesses to state, aloud, that they understand and agree with each of the points made in the self-proving affidavit--for instance, that they understand the document is your will, that they understand that they are being asked to serve as witnesses to your signature, and so forth. Even in limited situations where a notary may also be witnessing a document, do not act as both, unless you absolutely must, and do not volunteer to serve both notary and witness.
If two petitioners cannot be at the same place, consider having one witness execute the document in place of a witness. If a director does not make a determination, one authorized person may sign, and that should be in the presence of a witness. Requirements are imposed by the state in which the documents are allegedly recorded, rather than by the state where signing occurs.
A Testamentary Will is the most familiar kind of will; you prepare the document, and then you sign it with witnesses. Wills written and signed by the testator, but without witnesses, are known as holographic wills -- from the less-common second meaning of holograph, which means a document written by the writer. You may be holding the notary publics license in a state that requires additional witnesses, and your usual practice would be to get witnesses signatures on documents.