In addition to writing out your will, you must make sure that the state will recognize it as valid. To do so, you need people to act as witnesses. They will observe you as you sign your will and then add their own signatures to the document. However, not just anybody can act as a witness. You want to select individuals that state law will qualify to be witnesses.
Additionally, you should have witnesses that will not cause legal complications down the road. Massachusetts law describes the kinds of people that should act as your will witnesses.
Choose competent witnesses
There are not many qualifications to be a witness to a will signing. Any person whom the law deems to be generally competent to serve as a witness should qualify. While competency might not be a problem when choosing a witness, you should be sure that your witness candidates do not have any health conditions that could cause someone to question their competency during a will contest.
Pick disinterested individuals
State law requires disinterested witnesses to sign a will. A disinterested witness is someone who will not benefit from the will. Generally, individuals who you do not list as beneficiaries should qualify as disinterested witnesses.
If you still want an interested party to sign your will, state law allows it if you also have two disinterested persons as additional witnesses. However, the law might invalidate your will if it turns out the interested witness exercised undue influence over you or engaged in fraud that influenced the outcome of the will.
Consider younger witnesses
Picking someone your own age to witness your will signing might not be a good idea. If you live a long time, your witness might die before you do. In the event your heirs contest your will in court, a judge may decide to call your will witnesses to testify. Think about choosing one or more witnesses that have a chance of still being alive even after you have died.
Given how drawn out and stressful will contests can be, you want to do what you can to validate your will. Following the state guidelines for will witnesses may be a crucial step in completing your estate plans.