Will is a crucial legal document whereby the person making the Will (known as testator) states his intention how his property will be devolved after his death. It is important to carefully execute the Will to ensure it is valid. In this article we will see who can be a witness to a Will and what are the rules governing the attesting or witnessing a Will in India.
After the Will has been signed by the testator or maker of the Will it must be attested by two or more witnesses. As per the Indian Succession Act Wills are required to have a minimum of two witnesses attesting the Will.
What is the purpose of having a Witness?
The purpose of having a witness is to ensure that the testator has the mental capacity and intent to make a Will. The witnesses see you and your actions during this time and can later testify if ever the intentions or the state of mind of testator is questioned.
Who can be a witness?
Witnesses should be adults, i.e. above 18 years of age. While choosing the witness you must keep in mind that they should survive you as they may need to testify the Will after your death. It is important to ensure that your witness does not have any potential bias or conflict of interest. Also it is better to have a related party than a complete stranger so that there is a sense of assurance that trustworthy people are involved in the process of creating a Will. It is best to choose someone whose name is not mentioned anywhere in the Will.
How many witnesses you need?
You require minimum of two witnesses to attest the Will, however there is no upper limit. You can also have more than two witnesses, in case you are doubtful that your witnesses will survive you.
Why is it important to have a witness?
Witnesses are those people who have seen you making the Will and can testify its authenticity. They can also state that you were of sound mind while making the Will and are fully aware of the contents of the Will and it was made out of your free choice. Witnesses may also be called to testify the contents of the Will if ever it is contested.
Who should you choose to witness your Will?
You can choose any two adults to be the witnesses of your Will but they should outlive you. When and how does witnesses sign the Will?
The witnesses are required to sign the Will in the presence of the Will maker. The witnesses are expected to see the testator sign the Will and then sign the Will.
Can a beneficiary or the executor be a witness to a Will?
Yes, both the beneficiary and the executor can be witness to a Will. However, it is best not to choose someone who has personal interest in the Will.