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How to choose a will witnesses? What if they die?

Beverly Hills, CA |

Despite I am young, I want to draft a will for my money and properties. How can I chose two reliable witnesses? I am alone here California and I am a US citizen, all my relatives are in overseas and not a US citizen. I don't have close friends who I can trust. What if the witnesses die?

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Attorney answers 4


I suggest that you hire an attorney to make sure the will is drafted correctly. The attorney can have it witnessed usually with people in his/her office.


Hiring an attorney is a good idea. Each state has a procedure for a "self proving" will, so the witnesses don't have to be located at the time of your death to prove the will. It is a good idea to use witnesses who are unrelated to you, who don't receive anything in the will, and who are over 21.


You don't have to know the witnesses personally and the witnesses do not have to appear when you die to attest to the will. Have an attorney draft your will, so it is done correctly and the attorney will provide the witnesses.

Please note that I am answering this question as a service through Avvo but not as your attorney and no attorney-client relationship is established by this posting. An attorney-client relationship can only be established through signing a Fee Agreement and paying the necessary advanced fees.


My colleagues all give you good advice. If you choose an attorney to draft the will and to preside over the execution of the will, you don't have to round up your own witnesses -- the attorney will provide two (or, more likely, three) witnesses.

The persons who are typically chosen as witnesses are office personnel in the attorney/draftsman's office or other attorneys.

Most, if not all, states now use "self-proving" wills, in which the witnesses' signatures are notarized. Before self-proving wills became the norm, it often took a lot of time and money to locate witnesses who were present at the will-signing many years earlier. The development of self-proving wills over the past few decades has made the process of probate much quicker and easier.

It sounds as though you are contemplating drafting the will yourself. I would caution you: DON'T. A will is not expensive and if you make a mistake, that mistake likely won't be capable of being fixed, since the error probably won't be caught until the person who signed the will has metamorphosed from testator to decedent.

Good luck to you.
Good luck to you.

Michael S. Haber is a New York attorney. As such, his responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to his understanding of law in the jurisdiction in which he practices and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as rendering legal advice involves the ability of the attorney to ask appropriate questions of the person seeking such advice and to thus gather appropriate information. In addition, an attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement. The purpose of this answer is to provide the questioner with general information, not to outline specific legal rights and remedies.