Correct Attestation of Wills (Signing & Witnessing)

The process of signing and witnessing a Will is called the “Attestation”

– and it is every bit as important that this is completed correctly, as the Will content itself! The Probate Office is more likely to declare a Will “invalid” because of an incorrect Attestation than for any other reason. So, please be aware – this is a VERY important procedure. My Company provides a supervised Attestation in all its document charges and will ONLY allow a “Remote Attestation” (unsupervised) with a written disclaimer duly signed by the client.

Simply put – You need TWO independent persons to witness a Will and they must not be beneficiaries of that Will.

First – there is much confusion about who may sign as witnesses – quite simply, anyone may sign as a witness to a Will provided THEY ARE NOT BENEFICIARIES OF THAT WILL or directly related to beneficiaries of that Will. Secondly, there is an equal amount of confusion about the number of witnesses needed – this is TWO!

I have modified this and advise my clients that they will require” TWO INDEPENDENT PERSONS TO ACT AS WITNESSES – I.E. NOT RELATED TO THEM AND NOT MENTIONED IN THE WILL”. I just believe it makes life much more simple to keep the witnesses totally independent from anyone within the Will. Then, if there were to be a claim, coerscion cannot even be considered.

It must be TWO witnesses – one witness is not enough, and they must be present at the same time, in the same room. Allowing one witness to sign, then going off to find another is NOT permitted. The person signing his/her Will (The Testator) together with TWO witnesses MUST be present together, at the same time, in the same room and then sign after the Testator to say “we saw him/her sign and date that document”. Remember, if there is a query about the signing procedure, you as a witness, can be called upon to verify the procedure which took place that day.

Correct Attestation of Wills (Signing & Witnessing)

My Company encourages all its clients to sign the Attestaion as quickly as possible after approval of documents. However, to many clients, it seems a huge task to get two independent persons to attend a meeting which will take no longer than ten minutes! I have clients who have waited over a year to sign the attestation on the premise that they cannot get witnesses together! Frankly, I find this incredible and difficult to accept. Surely, after completion of SUCH an important document it makes sense to legalise it by signing it and having it witnessed as soon as possible.

Finally, if you really ARE struggling to find two witnesses – we can invariably find a witness or two, and don’t be afraid to approach your neighbours down the street whom you don’t really know – as they won’t see what’s in the document – just you signing it!