Witnessing a will – who can be a witness & what is required?

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Who can witness or attest the signing of a will for it to be valid in law? And what must they do?

The legal formalities to make a valid will require the will-maker to sign their will in the presence of at least two people, acting as formal witnesses to the event.  Executing a will in front of witnesses fulfils a protective function.

Witnessing a will – key points:

1. The will-maker must sign the will first in front of two or more witnesses, all present at the same time and in the same place.
2. Witnesses must be mentally competent and be able to see the will-maker make their signature, (the attestation) or other sign as appropriate.
3. At least two witnesses having attested the will then sign their names; in confirmation that the will-maker’s signature, made in their presence was genuine.
4. Anyone likely to inherit under the will, ie a beneficiary, including their spouse/partner should not witness it – although the law has changed in some states and in others exceptions are permitted.  Seek legal advice.

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Signing and execution of a will – same thing?

Signing and execution mean different things

Signing a document is not the same thing as having to execute it.  We might talk about signing a will but technically, a will is required by law to be executed.  So what does execution mean?

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A lost will: – when the original can’t be found.

By: B Stead
missing will, misplaced will, lost will, Keeping an original will safe and secure is one thing, (see storing a will), but as a practical matter, it is  important to let executors know, or family or a trusted friend, of its whereabouts.

But what if for some reason an original will cannot be located, despite thorough searches?  Some additional enquiries which may be made in finding a missing will is discussed here. If a deceased person has not left a valid will, the intestacy rules apply.  More