You do not want the witness for a will to get drunk or hostile. I believe every person trying to formulate their will should have nice and friendly people as their witnesses. Because Minnesota law agrees, this is how I approach a witness for a will.
Who can be a witness for a will?
In Minnesota, rule 524.2505 tells us any competent person, including your loved ones, can be a witness. Here is what I look for:
- A person who is older than 18 years of age,
- A person who is not an anticipated heir,
- A person with a sound mind, and
- A person who is can agree to be at a specific place on a specific time.
How do you know if a witness for a will is 18 years of age or older?
This part of the problem is very easy. You look at their driver’s license.
Also, this is important too because I like including the witnesses city or town of residence to their signature block as a witness.
How do you avoid an anticipated heir?
Without asking, it is difficult to know whether the folks I depend on as a witness are heirs of my Clients. However, the day I have a Client tell a witness “hi so-and-so, it is great to see you”, that will likely lead to additional question and or the use of a different witness.
The best way to begin the process of understanding who is or is not an heir, consider this resource from our Attorney General.
How do you know if a witness for a will has a sound mind?
In my experience, this is hardly an issue except when Clients ask whether their elderly parent or jittery adult child can serve as a witness for a will.
Unless you acquire a medical examination, very likely neither one of us will know if a witness has a sound mind. However, here are a bunch of facts I look for:
- Slurred speech,
- Do they have a difficult time finding their license,
- Can they write their name without asking how,
- Do they look you in the eye,
- Are they in good spirits, and
- Do they give off a sharp or sound impression?
Do you really need a witness for a will?
Yes, in Minnesota you absolutely need a witness for a will. In fact, you need at least two people.
Yes, if you believe one of your family members will be a pain in the butt once you move into Heaven, there have been times when I encourage Clients to use or seek three (3) witnesses.
Need more help?
I recognize I am taking a somewhat lightheartedness towards witness selection. On the other hand, family members fight over witnesses selection all the time.
Thus, please contact me such that we can have a deeper discussion on your family dynamic.