Are beneficiaries allowed to be witnesses to the signing of a living trust?

Asked about 5 years ago - Covina, CA

The beneficiaries I speak of are not directly beneficiaries. The Husband and the daughter of an heir were witnesses to the signing of my mothers living trust. The husband was not mentioned at all in the will but the daughter was possibly gonna get money of a certain amount over and a bove an amount set if it reached that amount she would get up to $10,000.00 and then if there was more it would go back to the original beneficiaries. So I guess you could say she was a direct beneficiary. The third signer was a neighbor. Is this legal?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Janet Lee Brewer

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    Contributor Level 17

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    Answered . You appear to be mixing apples and oranges. A will is witnessed; usually a trust is notarized.

    This sounds like it was a "do-it-yourself" job; I can't imagine any competent lawyer would let a beneficiary's husband and daughter be witnesses to a will. It raises too many issues. California probate code section 6112 states that just because a witness is "interested" in the will does not automatically make the will invalid, but it does create a strong presumption that duress, undue influence, fraud, or "menace" was involved.

    The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

  2. Peter Robert Stone

    Contributor Level 15

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    Answered . The will is witnessed, and the trust is notarized. This all makes it likely that the person who signed was the person who was the testator. However as said above, if there person was weak, or sick or ill, the signor being a beneficiary could lead to presumption that they influced the signing.

  3. Kristin M Tyler

    Contributor Level 6

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    Answered . Can you please clarify if you are asking about the witnesses who signed the WILL or the witnesses that signed the TRUST? You mention both in your question. Generally, the only people who sign a TRUST are the Grantors (people establishing the Trust) and the Trustees, along with the atttorney and the notary public. The WILL generally has to be witnessed by at least two, adult, related persons. It sounds like this person's Will was witnessed by her son-in-law and granddaughter along with a neighbor (if I am reading your facts correctly). If this is the case, it would be outside my comfort zone to have a son-in-law and granddaughter act as witnesses to the Will. The son-in-law might be far enough removed to act as a witness, but perhaps she should talk to her attorney about this issue and determine if she should re-execute the Will with only non-related parties acting as witnesses. Hope this helps.

  4. Kristin M Tyler

    Contributor Level 6

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    Answered . Clarification to my last answer: The WILL generally has to be witnessed by at least two, adult, UN-related persons

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