Can My Children Or Spouse Serve As Witnesses To My Will Signing?
Having any person who receives a gift under your Will serve as a witness to the execution of that Will creates complications one should avoid.
Under most circumstances, a testator’s (the person who is making the Will) spouse and children are persons who receive gifts under the provisions of the testator’s Will. These persons, if they are named to receive a gift under the testator’s Will, or any other person named to receive a gift under the testator’s Will, are designated “interested witnesses.” RCW 11.12.160.
An interested witness’s signature does not invalidate the testator’s Will. It does, however, affect the gift received by the interested witness. First, the court will presume that the gift specified in the testator’s Will was given under duress, menace, fraud, or undue influence. If the interested witness provides sufficient evidence that this presumption of wrongdoing is not warranted, then the interested witness will receive the gift specified in the testator’s Will. If the interested witness fails to rebut the presumption, then the interested witness will receive only so much of the gift specified in the Will as does not exceed what the interested witness would receive if the testator had no Will at all (that is, if he were intestate). RCW 11.12.160.
Witnesses to one’s Will should be selected from among persons who would not receive a gift if the Will proves valid or if the testator had no Will at all. Then the interested witness rule will not come into play.