What to Know About Having Witnesses for Your Will
When you create a last will and testament, you must get signatures from at least two witnesses. These witnesses are on hand so they may later testify about your state of mind and your actions if there is ever a challenge to the validity of your will. They don’t necessarily have to know the contents of the will, but they do need to certify you were of sound mind and body and actually signed the will yourself.
The following are a few things to know about these witnesses:
- Choose the right people: Witnesses should be credible and likely to live longer than you, as there’s always the chance they will need to testify about your will signing. It is advisable to avoid having beneficiaries as witnesses to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
- Number of witnesses: Every state, including Florida, requires you to have two witnesses to have a valid, legally binding will. You may have more witnesses if you choose — this could help you to protect your will if any of your witnesses should pass away before you do.
- Witnesses must sign in your presence: Witnesses must sign in the presence of you, the testator. However, witnesses do not have to actually see you sign the will — they just need to see the physical document itself. They also do not have to see other witnesses sign the document, although traditionally the testator and witnesses all sign at the same time.
- You may use self-proving affidavits: You also have the option of signing an affidavit (along with your witnesses) that certifies the witnessing of the will. This will help speed the will along through the probate process, as it removes any need for witnesses to make declarations after the death of the testator.
To learn more about the role of witnesses when you sign your will, contact a knowledgeable Florida estate planning attorney at The Charles Law Offices.