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A closer look: Who are the witnesses of your will?

Creating a valid will can involve several details. But these details are necessary to ensure individuals clarify their wishes for their loved ones after they are gone. 

Individuals making a will must meet quite a few requirements. They must be at least 18-years-old or older and of sound mind. A will must also adhere to California's specific estate planning laws.

However, individuals must also have witnesses present when they sign their will for it to be valid. There are also a few requirements witnesses must satisfy, so here is an overview of the witness' role.

Why are witnesses necessary?

Essentially, the witnesses confirm that the individual making the will meets all of the legal criteria to make a valid will

If there are any disputes about the will after the individual passes, the witnesses are also necessary to testify about the will. Since they observed the signing first-hand, they have a certain authority and perspective regarding the will.

Who should you choose as your witnesses?

Two witnesses must be present when an individual signs their will. And there are three essential factors that individuals should consider when choosing their witnesses:

  1. They must also be of sound mind and of age, or at least 18. 
  2. They should know the creator of the will. This could be a non-professional party, such as a friend. Or individuals can have professional witnesses as well, such as their accountant or financial adviser.
  3. However, witnesses cannot also be beneficiaries. It would be a conflict of interest if the witnesses were to inherit anything from the will.

What if you do not have witnesses?

California law does allow individuals to create holographic wills, which do not require witnesses to sign the will. Only the creator of the will must sign it.

However, making a valid holographic will requires individuals to take great care. It is often helpful to have witnesses to ensure that a will is valid so that families can avoid future disputes.

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