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Estate Planning Newsletter

  • Probate: Settling Affairs After Death
    Probate, a Latin term meaning “to prove the will,” is a court-supervised process that settles a person’s affairs after death. To ensure that the decedent’s final matters and wishes are handled correctly... Read more.
  • Donations of Property and Tax Deductions
    The U.S. government has long encouraged citizens to contribute to charity. One method of encouraging philanthropic giving is the allowance of deductions from income for federal tax purposes for donations to “qualified”... Read more.
  • Increasing Child Support Payments After an Inheritance
    The federal Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984 requires each state to develop its own set of systematic guidelines for calculating awards of child support. Generally, state child support guidelines are based on the parents’... Read more.
  • Processing a Life Insurance Policy Death Claim
    The beneficiary of a life insurance policy is the person entitled to receive the death benefit of the policy when the insured person dies. In order to collect on a death benefit claim, the beneficiary must usually comply with specific... Read more.
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Formal Requirements of Wills & Witnesses

A witnessed will is only one of several different types of wills. It is also referred to as a “formal” or “attested” will, and involves the eyewitness participation of other people.

Witnesses

In most states, a witnessed will must be observed by 2 individuals. They must also state that they were present when the person (testator) signed the will, and then recite the way it was signed. This helps safeguard the witnessing (in case at a later date, they are unavailable to verify the testator’s signature on the will).

Who Should Be A Witness

A witness should not be someone who will inherit under the will. Some states disallow this type of witness, and other states limit the inheritance a witness to a will can receive. Witnesses should also be competent to testify about the signing of the will and likely to outlive the testator.

Signature Requirements

A witnessed will must be signed by one of the following:

  • The person making the will (testator)
  • A person the testator has chosen to sign on his/her behalf
  • A conservator chosen by the courts

Marks of the Testator

The testator does not necessarily have to put his/her signature on the will. Other marks will satisfy the signature requirement if the testator is not able to sign the will because he/she is either illiterate or disabled. These types of marks include:

  • Any mark that is near the testator’s name
  • Another person’s signature (with the testator’s direction), in the presence of the testator
  • A conservator’s signature

However, in order for these types of marks to be valid as signatures, they must be witnessed and signed by 2 other persons.

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