How to Witness a Last Will & Testament

By Cindy Hill

Being asked to witness the will of a friend, family member or coworker can create unnecessary anxiety. Although a will is an important legal document which must be witnessed to be valid, the duties and responsibilities of witnesses are simple and straightforward. It is extremely rare for witnesses to a will to ever be called upon for any further obligations related to their signatures. As you consider how to witness a last will and testament, think about taking advantage of the will-signing event to complete your own will at the same time.

Step 1

Advise the testator if you are under 18, as this disqualifies you from witnessing a will. Ask if you are a beneficiary under the will, as in most cases beneficiaries should also not witness a will signing, advises the Washington State Bar Association.

Step 2

Check to determine that there are at least two witnesses in the room in addition to the testator, or at least three witnesses in the state of Vermont, advises FindLaw.

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Step 3

Sit where you can physically observe the testator sign the will. Remain in the room while all necessary witnesses sign the will.

Step 4

Sign the will where indicated by a witness signature line. Use a non-erasable ball point pen, or a fountain pen and ink,. You may also inscribe a date adjacent to your signature or on a separate designated date line. If requested, print your name in addition to your signature.

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Can a Person Write Their Own Will & Then Have It Notarized?
 

References

Related articles

Are Notarized Wills Legal?

In all 50 U.S. states, at least two witnesses are required to make a will valid, according to MedLawPlus. However, only Louisiana requires a will to be notarized in addition to being signed by two witnesses. Although a notary may sign a will as a witness in most other states, the fact of notarization is not enough to make a will valid, according to FindLaw.

How Can I Do My Own Will?

Less than half of American adults have wills. One reason for this low figure might be the common perception that wills are complicated and expensive to prepare. Although large and complex estates may require estate-planning services and legal advice, many people with smaller holdings use simple testaments. All jurisdictions accept self-drafted testaments that meet probate requirements. Some states -- such as California -- make it easy for people to draft their own wills by providing a valid form will in the statutes and allowing handwritten wills.

Does a Durable Power of Attorney Require Witnesses?

A durable power of attorney is a document that authorizes your appointed agent to sign documents and perform other actions on your behalf. What makes a power of attorney durable is that it remains in effect even after you become mentally incompetent or otherwise unable to manage your affairs. Because a durable power of attorney can give your agent great power over your finances, property or even health care decisions, anyone being asked to rely upon it needs to know that it is genuine and valid. Witnesses or a notary public’s acknowledgement serves as proof that your power of attorney is authentic.

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