Writing a will is an important part of estate planning and a valid will is something that ensures your peace of mind.
For your will to be legally valid, it must be signed in the presence of witnesses. Georgia law requires that 2 witnesses be present when you sign your will, and the witnesses must sign the will, as well.
You might think of this as a minor requirement, but you should give some thought to who you want to witness your will. Your witnesses play more of a role than simply showing up and signing.
Legal requirements to be a witness
Georgia law requires that your witnesses be over the age of 14 and be competent at the time they sign the will.
When choosing your witnesses, think about people you find trustworthy and credible. If someone challenges your will, your witnesses must be prepared to potentially testify that you were of sound mind when you signed the will and that you understood what you were signing.
Therefore, in addition to their trustworthiness, you should choose witnesses who you expect to still be around and available to testify in court if necessary.
Who should not be witnesses
Although it is not a legal requirement, it is typically not a good idea to choose witnesses who are beneficiaries in your will.
This can leave the door open for someone to challenge the will in probate court, arguing that there was a conflict of interest or that the witness exerted undue influence over you.
Once you have chosen your potential witnesses, it can help to explain to them what the process entails. They are there to simply sign the will, watch you sign and confirm that you are of sound mind. They do not need to read the will or give input on any of its contents.
Understanding the role of witnesses is an important part of your estate planning process, which can seem confusing and overwhelming at times. Estate planning attorneys are there to answer questions and offer guidance.