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Who to Choose to Witness a Will in New York?

We wrote before that to write a valid will in New York, you will need two witnesses. But while you pretty much have freedom to choose who you want to witness a will, you should be aware that should you choose the wrong witnesses, you may be adding a roadblock to the administration of your estate

So who should you choose as witnesses?

The first general rule is that you should choose someone uninterested in the will. What this means is choose a witness who does not stand to benefit from your will -- like a paralegal or assistant in a law office.

The reason you should choose an uninterested witness is that should your will be challenged, the veracity of your witnesses may also be questioned given their interest in your will.

For example, suppose a witness to your will is your cousin. And suppose that you and your cousin have a very good relationship and you leave him half of your assets to the detriment of your children. If your will is challenged, the testimony of your witness cousin may also be challenged. Should this happen, the inheritance to your cousin may be set aside.

To spare these will contests, it's just easier to choose someone who doesn't stand to benefit from your will as a witness.

Besides choosing an uninterested witness, you should also choose a witness who is available. So in case your will is challenged, your witnesses can be called to court to testify that they in fact watched you sign your will. So, if you live in New York, you probably don't want your witnesses in Hawaii.

Choosing who to witness a will is important. Luckily, finding disinterested people in a city of over eight million like New York shouldn’t be too difficult.

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