Estate planning protects your wishes should you die or become incapacitated. To achieve this, you should observe the required processes when creating all your estate planning documents, including having witnesses when signing your will. But who should you choose as your witnesses?
Here is what you need to know.
They should be adults and be of sound mind
Your witnesses should be adults, above 18, and be mentally competent. This means they should understand the nature and the significance of the document. The witnesses will also confirm that:
- They understand the document is the testator’s will
- The testator signed the will in their presence
- They signed the document in the presence of the testator
- They believe the testator is of sound mind
- They believe the will is not procured by duress, undue influence or fraud.
If your witnesses confirm that these requirements are true and they understand them, your document should be valid.
They should not be beneficiaries
The witnesses you choose for your will should not be interested parties. They should not receive assets from the will – they can’t be named as beneficiaries. If you choose a loved one as your witness, you can provide for them outside the will, such as by using a trust.
If an interested party witnesses a will, California law presumes fraud and undue influence, and, in turn, it will be invalidated.
Why do you need witnesses?
Witnesses are crucial for your will. In addition to being a legal requirement, they may provide crucial information should anyone make accusations about your will. For example, if your will is contested, your witnesses may protect your wishes.
It will be best to get legal help when choosing witnesses for your will to make the right moves, protecting your beneficiaries.