Nov 19, 2010

When is a Will Valid?

Will being signed.jpgDear Liza:My wife misunderstood the three spaces at the bottom of each page of her will, and placed one of her initials in each space, then realized her mistake and scribbled them out. She then initialed the proper space, and the witnesses each initialed above the scribbled out initials. The will was otherwise properly signed and notarized. Would these scribbled out initials invalidate her will? The only part of your story that worries me is the 'notarized' part. While the validity of a Will is a question of state law (and so differs from state to state) as a general matter, Wills are signed before WITNESSES they are not notarized. Anyone should be able to make a Will, even those who don't have proper ID or can't afford to pay a notary. So, a notarized WIll is not valid, generally. But perhaps you just meant that the Will was signed in front of witnesses who were over eighteen and not people who would benefit in any way from that Will. If so, I think you are fine. Courts really want to be certain that a Will represents the intentions of the testator (that's lawyer talk for the person who made the Will). A scribbling error, crossed out by the testator, at the time the witnesses were there really ought to pass muster. I would certainly submit it to probate. Of course, if you're really worried, just do another one.