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Why does a will need witnesses?

On Behalf of | Nov 7, 2023 | Estate Planning |

If you have a will, it means that you must have two witnesses present when you establish it. This is a requirement, but this requirement serves a much larger purpose in probate. Here is the critical information you must know about the role witnesses play.

Why witnesses are key

Witnesses generally have two important roles:

  1. They can assure that the person who created the will was of sound mind when they did so
  2. They can provide statements to the probate court proving the will is valid

Proving that a will is valid is a critical step in probate – in fact, it is one of the first items on the extensive to-do list. Contacting witnesses can make completing this step much easier.

Of course, there are other means of proving the will is valid. For example, the California Probate Code specifically states that you can prove the validity of a will by comparing the handwriting of the witness, or perhaps even the creator of the will, to another sample.

So, choosing the right witness is essential

When crafting a will, it is important to be mindful when selecting a witness. This can help make the first, critical step of probate easier for your family as they navigate this tough process after losing a loved one. To choose your witness, it can help to:

  • Consider the two roles above when making this decision
  • Choose someone who is not going to inherit anything through the will

It will also help to include contact information for the witnesses and communicate directly with your family about your plan – and your wishes.

You do not have to overthink this choice too much. However, it is an important one to help make probate easier for your family.