Question 1: Who can be a witness to a Will?
Though state laws about wills differ slightly, any capable adult can be a witness to a last will and testament. When a testator—a person who makes a will—wants to finalize it, he or she must have the will signed by at least two competent adult witnesses. The witnesses must be present when the testator signed the will, or at least hear the testator affirm that the will the witnesses are signing is his.
Question 2: Can family members be witnesses?
Perhaps, but it’s better to get someone else. It’s always best to have witnesses who do not stand to receive property from the testator after he or she dies. These people are known as disinterested witnesses because there is no way they can receive an inheritance from the testator. In general, using non-family witnesses who are not granted gifts through the will is the best option.
Question 3: What does a witness have to do?
Being a witness is very simple. All you have to be able to do is witness the testator sign the will and hear him or her affirm that it represents the testator’s wishes. Once you do this you can sign the document.
If the testator is creating a self-proving will you may also have to prove your identity to a notary and be able to sign a sworn statement, known as an affidavit. If there is no self-proving will you might be asked later to appear in court and testify that you witnessed the testator sign the will.
You can learn much more about wills and other estate planning options at our next free estate planning seminar on Tuesday, May 7th in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. Contact our office for registration details.