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Getting a Will witnessed

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RogerS

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Chris - you say the witnesses must sign. I not sure that that is correct. I do know that they need to write their name down so that it is legible in case they need to be contacted. Whether or not they then also need to sign it, not sure.
 

MikeK

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RogerS":29ukddye said:
Chris - you say the witnesses must sign. I not sure that that is correct. I do know that they need to write their name down so that it is legible in case they need to be contacted. Whether or not they then also need to sign it, not sure.
In Germany, the will (or Testament) must be signed by two uninterested parties, else it is invalid. I suspect the same is required in the UK, as Chris states. Last year, the U.S. adopted the Uniform Electronic Wills Act, which allows digital signatures.

In the U.S., the will can be typed or machine printed, but in Germany the Testament must be handwritten. I think there is a provision for a typed or printed Testament in Germany if it is prepared by a specialist attorney. A video Testament is also allowed in Germany, as I know of two friends who did this. One video survived a legal challenge by some disgruntled distant relatives who appeared from the woodwork.
 

profchris

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RogerS":1pe4irgv said:
Chris - you say the witnesses must sign. I not sure that that is correct. I do know that they need to write their name down so that it is legible in case they need to be contacted. Whether or not they then also need to sign it, not sure.
I am sure.

The witnesses must sign as witnessing it. A sub-heading like "Witnessed by:" would cover this.
 

profchris

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profchris":1f2fweal said:
RogerS":1f2fweal said:
Chris - you say the witnesses must sign. I not sure that that is correct. I do know that they need to write their name down so that it is legible in case they need to be contacted. Whether or not they then also need to sign it, not sure.
I am sure.

The witnesses must sign as witnessing it. A sub-heading like "Witnessed by:" would cover this.
Just to come back to this (I was in a break from online teaching), I realise that I might be confusing everyone.

One way of signing something is simply to write your name.

There are other ways, such as the hieroglyphic symbol I squiggle. This is why witnesses usually are asked to print their name as well.

The point is that a will, or its codicils, requires a manuscript signature. This is:
  • a physical mark made on the document by the hand of the signatory;
    which is capable of identifying the signatory; and
    is made with the intention to sign the document

The normal way of doing this is to write your name or make your mark against some wording which shows that it is intended as a signature, or that you are witnessing the document.

If anyone has more time on their hands than they can use up making shavings, I explored this at alarming length some 20 years ago:

https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/jilt/2000_3/reed/

But don't try any of the cunning things I discuss on a will, handwritten name or mark only!

There are complex and special rules about wills made by people on their death beds, shipwrecked sailors, and so on. Not safe to hope that one of these might apply if you can do the thing by a properly witnessed document.
 

MusicMan

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Steve

Pro tem, you can write a letter to your executors, lodging it with your lawyer, expressing your wishes/preferences. This will not work for changing beneficiaries or major items (leaving your house to X rather than Y) but can usefully work for e.g. how you want your machines disposed of. This does not need witnessing and can be changed any time. It does not have legal force but our lawyer advised us that the executors will follow the letter where possible. We each have one in addition to our wills, and it saves putting too much restrictive detail in the latter.

Keith
 

fenhayman

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A few years ago a friend was due to fly to USA with all his family, all of whom would be the only beneficiaries should he die.
He was concerned that should they all be wiped out in a air crash his house and money would go to the state.
Prior to leaving for the airport he telephoned his solicitor who told him to write an amended will, leaving his assets to his wider family together with a written explanation as to the circumstances on his kitchen table.
Solicitor said that amended will would probably be followed unless objections were raised by other potential beneficiaries.
I should add that making and saving money is his main interest in life.
 

MikeK

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fenhayman":3w42r9h0 said:
A few years ago a friend was due to fly to USA with all his family, all of whom would be the only beneficiaries should he die.
He was concerned that should they all be wiped out in a air crash his house and money would go to the state.
Prior to leaving for the airport he telephoned his solicitor who told him to write an amended will, leaving his assets to his wider family together with a written explanation as to the circumstances on his kitchen table.
Solicitor said that amended will would probably be followed unless objections were raised by other potential beneficiaries.
I should add that making and saving money is his main interest in life.
I don't think this is correct. Although I can't speak for all states, but when a Virginia resident dies in a case like you described, the state doesn't get anything if there are any living relatives in the family line. The portion of the decedent's estate that would go through a will goes to probate and the court distributes the property in accordance with intestate succession. The only reason the estate could possibly go to the state is if there are no relatives to receive the distributions.

An unwitnessed codicil should be easy to challenge in court.
 

profchris

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Fascinating though these exceptional cases are, I don't think we should fantasise such a disaster on Steve. If I recall correctly he either plans to cross the road to his neighbour's house (if so, remember the Green Cross Code, Steve!) or even safer, ask the neighbours to cross the road to him. We should wish everyone a safe journey, in either case.

(BTW I'm with MIkeK so far as UK law is concerned too. I last studied the law of wills (other than signing them) and intestacy back in 1979, but it hasn't changed much since.)
 
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