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Modern Estate Planning Blog

Elder Law & Special Needs Planning

Executing a Will in Fair Oaks: What Are The Guidelines for Witnesses?

March 17, 2012

Those who provide wills and trust administration in Fair Oaks, CA, field a variety of questions. After all, providing information is a big part of what lawyers do. There are many important aspects to creating your will in order to ensure that it will hold up in court when the time comes. Wills and trust administration is a whole lot easier when the decedent has made sure to comply with all of the applicable laws.

One area to consider in creating a valid, enforceable will is who your witnesses will be. States differ on the number of witnesses required, most mandating either two or three. Here in California, it is necessary to have 2 witnesses and to use “self-proving” language to help ensure the validity of your document and make the administration of your wills and trusts run smoothly.

Why Are Witnesses Necessary?

The courts require witnesses for a very specific reason. These people are able to state that you were of sound mind when you signed the will. This helps remove any doubt that could later slow down the administration of your will. It is much harder for someone to contest the will based on your state of mind when there are 2 witnesses able to testify that you had clear intentions and the ability to make them known.

Because the witnesses could conceivably be called upon to testify to this fact, it makes sense to choose people who are likely to survive you. Someone younger and in good health would be the best choice. In addition, your witnesses should be credible. If called on to testify, will they be taken at their word?

Choose the Right Witnesses

In addition to being credible, there are other criteria you and your lawyer should take into consideration such as the person’s relationship to you and to the will. If your witness stands to profit much from an inheritance, it can make their involvement suspicious or less credible. Even if it doesn’t cause a conflict of interest, it creates the appearance of one. In fact, some states don’t allow beneficiaries to act as witnesses at all, while others limit the amount they can receive. Work with an estate attorney in the Sacramento area to ensure that your witnesses fit statewide guidelines.

Other Considerations

In order for the administration of your will in Fair Oaks to go smoothly, it makes sense to create it as airtight as possible. Obviously, choosing witnesses can play an important role. There are a few other things to discuss with your lawyer in those regards. For example, do you and your witnesses need to sign the will in front of each other? Will the witnesses actually read the will or just sign it to assert that it is truly yours? Finally, how do you choose witnesses that won’t cause problems when it comes time for the administration to happen?

Your Fair Oaks trusts and estates attorney can help you answer such questions and sign your will in such a way that best protects you and your interests. For help getting started creating your will or trust, call our Fair Oaks estate planning law firm at 916.241.9661 and ask if you qualify for a Free Peace of Mind Planning Session with the mention of this article ($750 value).

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