When you make a will in New York State, there are legal requirements that must be met. One of these requirements concerns witnesses. There must be witnesses to the drafting of the will or it may not be legally valid. Our attorneys know the legal requirements for wills well and we can make sure that you do not encounter any trouble as you make estate plans.

Do I Need Witnesses For a Valid Will?

Yes, you do need to have witnesses there when a will is signed. Otherwise the will is not going to be considered legally valid. This is done to protect people who are nearing the end of their lives. Sometimes, family members, friends, or scammers can try to take advantage of someone who has to write a will. They can manipulate someone into leaving them everything that they have.

The witnesses are there to help stop that. Someone who signs on as a witness needs to verify that the person making the will is of sound mind. If someone is not able to think for themselves, they are not supposed to be making a will or changing one. A will can only be executed when two adults were there to witness its drafting. You can have more witnesses than that if you would like.

What Are the Requirements for the Witnesses?

Just about anyone can be a witness when a will is being drawn up in New York. They just need to be legal adults and they cannot be primary beneficiaries of the will. This is done to prevent challenges. If one of the witnesses was the child of the deceased and they end up getting the bulk of the estate, that could be easy for other beneficiaries to challenge in court.

So the better choice for a witness is usually a friend or family member who does not stand to benefit much from your will. Some people even use professionals from the law firm where their will is drawn up. It’s not uncommon for a paralegal to serve as a witness, for example.

Do I Need a Witness to Change My Will?

Yes, you would need to have witnesses around when you change your will too. You can change your will in one of two ways. You can make a small change and file what is known as a “codicil.” This would be read along with your will after you pass away.

You can also revoke your current will and write a new one. If you are making multiple changes or there’s fear that a codicil would create confusion, this would be a great option. The witness requirements for both of these methods of changing a will are there to protect you.

Contact Our Law Firm

When you are ready to make a will, consider meeting with our estate planning lawyers. Just contact the Lauterbach Law Firm and ask to set up a consultation. We can help you make a legally binding plan that protects your assets and provides for your family.