A will is a legal document that articulates what you want to happen to your estate when you die. For your Virginia will to be enforceable, it must be made in writing. Additionally, it must be witnessed by at least two competent adults.
A will that is not witnessed can be challenged and invalidated. And as you can imagine, this can shatter your legacy and loved ones’ futures. So what are the roles of witnesses in validating your will? To answer this question, it helps to start by understanding the process of witnessing a will in Virginia.
Witnessing a will
A witness must be an adult of sound mind. Additionally, they must not have personal interests in the will. This means that your spouse, civil partner or any beneficiary named in the will may not be a great fit for this role. A close friend, legal counsel or close friend, on the other hand, can witness your will.
While witnessing your will, the two individuals must provide their names, addresses and occupations.
Here are two reasons why you need independent witnesses when creating your will:
To affirm your identity and testamentary capacity
Having at least two witnesses present when signing your will ensures that you are positively identified as the testator and that no one can forge and replace the document without getting noticed. Besides being present while you sign the document, your witnesses are also required to append their signatures to the document.
Should someone contest or forge your will, in the future these witnesses’ can step forward and testify to the validity (or invalidity) of the document.
To protect you from undue influence
Undue influence happens when someone threatens you to structure your will in a way that is beneficial to them. Having two people witness your will can reduce the possibility of someone unduly influencing you during the document’s creation.
Understanding the will creation process can help you make the right steps while avoiding mistakes that can invalidate your will.