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The role of witnesses in Virginia estate planning

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2021 | Simple Wills | 0 comments

Virginia imposes very strict rules on the creation of a will or estate plan. When you create a will specifically, you will need two competent adult witnesses. 

If you do not have witnesses present when you sign your will, then the Virginia probate courts may not uphold your documents. What must witnesses do to help you validate your testamentary documents in Virginia?

They affirm your identity and state of mind

Having witnesses present when you sign your will ensures that someone else could not forge a document and replace your last will without significant complications. The witnesses not only need to see you sign the document but will also need to sign it themselves. 

In the future, their statements can help if disputes arise about the validity of the will. If someone in your family tries to claim that you lacked testamentary capacity at the time of your signing, those witnesses could help confirm that you were cogent and aware of your actions.

They protect you against undue influence

Undue influence is the legal term for one person pressuring or threatening someone else to structure their estate plan a certain way, often for the personal benefit of the individual applying the pressure. 

Although Virginia does not prohibit you from using witnesses who might benefit from the estate, requiring two of them makes it less likely that one person could pressure you into changing your documents and then also served as the witness to those changes. 

Learning more about the estate planning process can help you make the most of the time and effort you invest.