A will is often the most important document in an estate plan. Someone’s will may give instructions about what to do with someone’s property and how to care for their children after their death. In lieu of a trust, a will may be the primary way to pass property to the next generation and name someone to handle the estate itself.
Given that wills are incredibly powerful and important legal documents, it is important that the state has rules in place to prevent fraud. One of the ways that California reduces the chance of fraud or coercion influencing someone’s estate plan is through a witness requirement.
Who has to witness your will for it to be valid?
You need 2 adult witnesses
Every will requires the signature of the testator creating the document. They will need to sign the documents in front of two competent adults who understand that the document in question is a will. Having witnesses is important when drafting an initial will and when making any major changes to it.
Witnesses can play an important role later if someone challenges the will or the mental capacity of the testator. They can confirm that the document is the one that they witnessed and that the testator had the necessary mental faculties when they signed it.
As someone planning an estate, it will be crucial to select appropriate witnesses when you finalize your will. Beneficiaries of an estate who question the validity of a will may want to start their investigation by looking into the witnesses.
Understanding what rules apply when estate planning in California can lead to an easier process and valid documents.