Sometimes when our
estate planning attorneys are working on a
will here at the Law Offices of James C. Shields, we're confronted with
a client with a physical inability to sign a will. It can be for a variety
of reasons, often health related, but we want you to know that this is
not an obstacle to having a valid will.
If someone is physically unable to sign a will, there are options. If possible,
the testator - person creating the will - can sign with something as simple
as an X. If they cannot, however, they are permitted to direct someone
else to sign the will on their behalf.
There are more stringent requirements for wills than the signature. These
will be required in most states.
Generally, the will needs to be witnessed and signed by two disinterested
(in other words, non-inheriting) witnesses. If a witness has an interest
in the will and it is contested, that witness may lose his/her share of
the inheritance. The testator needs to sign the will, or direct someone
to sign the will on her behalf, in the presence of both witnesses at the
The Capacity to Create a Will
The testator must also have the capacity to create a will. It is not particularly
difficult to have that capacity; the requirements only apply when the
will is signed. Therefore, a person can have rare moments of lucidity
and still have testamentary capacity.
At the moment the will is signed, the testator must understand a few requirements,
- What property they have
- How their property is to be distributed under the will
- To whom they would normally include in the will (most people will include
spouses and children, for example)
Get the Help of an Estate Planning Attorney
In conclusion, an inability to sign is no obstacle to creation of a will,
but there are some formalities you'll need to observe. There are also
other, more important, requirements of which to be aware. If you're
thinking about making a will, or need to arrange to have a will written
for a loved one,
contact our Torrance estate planning lawyers for a consultation.