Anyone who creates a last will and testament needs to have the will witnessed by two adults. While the witnessing requirements are often viewed as very simple, there are some details you should be aware of.
In the Testator’s Presence
When you agree to act as witness to a will you must sign the document in the presence of the testator. (The testator is the person who created the will.) It’s very common, for example, for everyone to assemble at the same time and sign the document together.
Conflict of Interest
If you are asked to serve as a witness you may want to ask if the testator has left anything to you in the will. While you will never face any penalties if you sign a will that leave something to you, it could pose a potential problem to the testator or the testator’s estate. While many states allow interested parties to sign a will, some do not. It’s always best for the testator to have two people who will do not stand to inherit if the testator dies with or without a will.
As a witness you may later be called to testify in court that you saw the testator sign the document and that you signed as a witness. Alternately, you may be asked to prove your identity and sign a sworn affidavit at the time you sign as witness. If you sign such an affidavit you typically will not have to testify later.
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