Witnesses are often a key component of making a Will or a Trust valid and legally effective. You must follow your state-specific instructions provided with each of your documents. 

These people usually should not be a witness:

Anybody named in your Will—executors, guardians, gift recipients, etc

Immediate family members


What should you do?

A great place to find witnesses is wherever you go to notarize your documents (UPS Store is common). Some state documents don't require a notary, so ask a neighbor, coworker, or friends who aren't in your will to help you out. Maybe buy them coffee or a beer as a thank you. 

Are there consequences if I use the wrong witness?

In some states, there may be unintended consequences of having a Will or Trust witnessed by a family member or someone named in the documents. These consequences could jeopardize the ability of any witness to receive any gifts or inheritance from your estate.  Using unrelated witnesses that are not named in your estate plan will help avoid that possibility. 

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