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Do I need a Witness to sign my documents?

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01 November 2018

It’s a common question: “do I also need a witness to sign this document?”

Most of the time the answer is, “no”.

While witness signatures can lend credence to your document, in most cases they are not a legal requirement.

Sometimes the confusion comes from the fact that often documents will have a place for witnesses to sign, but this does not make it a requirement.

Usually only the parties entering into a written agreement need sign it.

The main reason we reduce agreements to writing and sign them is because it creates legal certainty, so the parties clearly know their rights and duties, but agreement can be verbal or even implied.

However, there are some exceptions to the “no-need-for-a-witness” rule … and if a document does require witnesses by Law, it is very important that the rules regarding Witness signatures are followed carefully.

EXCEPTIONS

Certain document will require witness signatures in order to be valid.

Last Will and Testament

The requirements for signing a Last Will and Testament are set out in the Wills Act.

A Will must be signed by 2 Witnesses.  The Witnesses should sign in full on every page of the Will.

The Witnesses must also sign wherever amendments, alterations or deletions are affected to the document.

People who are named as beneficiaries, guardians, executors or trustees (including their spouses) may not sign as witnesses.

For more information on Wills see our article: How to make your Will valid.

Ante-nuptial Contract

An ante-nuptial contract (“Anc”) is an essential document that should be signed before getting married.

Both spouses must sign the ante-nuptial contract with a notary and in the presence of two competent witnesses.  A competent witnesses is a person above the age of 14 years who is able and competent to deliver evidence in court.

Contractual

Sometimes a contract will specifically state that Witnesses are required for the contract to be valid, in which case Witnesses must sign in accordance with the contract requirements.

It is also possible that an existing contract may envisage future contracts between the parties and may state that the future contracts must be witnesses.

 

GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR A WITNESS

If you are going to have people witness your documents, there are certain requirements for witnessing documents.

Presence

The  contracting party must sign in the presence of the witnesses

Contact

It must be possible to find the witness later.

There may be other times that witness signatures are required but for the most part they are mainly there for the propose of evidence, so in the event that a person later says they did not sign to document, the witnesses can be called to confirm that they witnessed the signing.

Article Via: GCM LEGAL

DISCLAIMER: THIS INFORMATION DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.  IT IS ALWAYS ADVISABLE TO DISCUSS YOUR SITUATION WITH AN ATTORNEY OR PROFESSIONAL.

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LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT


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