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If you have ever had to sign a legal document then you know that in some cases, your signature is enough to make it binding. However, there are other cases where it may be necessary to have a witness to your signature.
Anytime there is a chance of a legal document coming into question as to the validity of the signing, it is important to have a witness. This can make the difference between someone claiming that they never signed the document or other opportunities for scrutiny.
If you are wondering who can witness the signing of a legal document, keep reading below to find out.
What is Considered to be a Legal Document?
A legal document is used to make a transaction legally binding in the eyes of the law and can hold a person accountable. This means that it can typically be upheld in a court of law once signed.
In most cases where a legal document is used, it is filed within the court or kept on file within certain guidelines. For the most part, you can make almost any type of document legal by adding your signature to it.
The signing of a legal document provides evidence should there be any type of dispute against the parties involved. For example, if one person attests that they cannot be legally responsible for what was originally agreed to, the other party can take legal action against them.
These types of cases are usually upheld by the courts, especially if there was a contract involved that both parties signed. Making it even more binding would be the fact that a witness was also brought into the mix to attest to the signing of said document.
Examples of Legal Documents that May Need a Witness
Many documents can be considered legally binding that you may want to consider having a witness for. These documents can often be scrutinized and sometimes even overturned if there is any room for impropriety.
Here is a list of some of the legal documents you may want to consider having a witness for:
- Property settlements
- Divorce decrees
- Marriage certificates
- Various types of contracts
While this is not an exhaustive list of documents that would benefit from having a witness to the signing, it should give you an idea of the different types of documents that you can and should have a witness for.
Overall, if there is any wiggle room that can be scrutinized with the signing of any document, then you may want to have a witness that can also sign. Having an impartial witness is key to keeping everything above reproach in most legal situations.
Why Would You Need a Witness?
In the world of business and other industries, not a day goes by where there is not some type of document that is signed by another person. From business contracts to real estate transactions and everything in between, it seems that you can easily be subject to signing a legal document for almost anything.
Because of this, you may need to have a witness of the signing which will go a long way to protecting both parties involved. This witness can attest that both parties involved have legally signed the document without force or coercion.
A witness to the signing of a legal document can then testify, if needed, to the validity of the signatures on the paperwork. If called into question, this witness can make or break a case where fraud is suspected.
Keep in mind that having a witness for the signing of a legal document adds a layer of protection against any impropriety that may be involved. This is because, in most cases, it is required that a witness to the signing of a legal document be someone who does not have a stake in the contract whatsoever.
Purpose of a Witness of a Legal Document
The primary purpose of having a witness for a legal document is to verify that the signature is from who it claims to be. Having a witness can prevent the instance of someone claiming that the document is a forgery.
If it comes down to it, a witness can be subpoenaed to testify that the signature belongs to the person in question. This is why most of the various types of legal documents require you to have a witness.
Overall, a witness not only is designed to protect the signer of the document but all parties that may be involved in the transaction. Just like a notary public, a witness is signing a legal document attesting to the fact that those mentioned in the transaction are who they say they are and that they are witnessing that they are indeed the ones that signed it.
Who Can Witness a Legal Document?
When it comes to witnessing the signing of a legal document, you may be wondering who is allowed to do so. This is a common question since it is important to ensure that your document is legal.
The most crucial factor that determines whether or not someone can witness a legal document is whether or not they have an interest in the transaction. This means that if an individual is a part of the contract, they are not allowed to be a witness.
Additionally, a person who chooses to witness the signing of a legal document is required to be at least 18 years old. This is mostly because, in the United States, a person must be an adult for the witnessing to be legal.
As long as the person who is set to witness the signing of a legal document is of sound mind and age they are legally able to do so. This, of course, is the case as long as they do not have an interest in the transaction.
Overall, while there are some situations where it is required to have either a notary public or a lawyer witness a legal document, in other cases, it is perfectly fine for just about anyone to witness. This means that as long as they meet the requirements, they can witness the signing of any legal document that you are a witness for.
Are There People Who Should Not Be Witnesses?
One of the most important factors you should keep in mind when looking for someone to witness a legal document is finding the right person. This is because while it is easy to ask someone in your family or even a close friend, it is not considered to be a great idea.
Keep in mind that a person who has an interest in the transaction is not allowed to be a witness to your legal document. Because of this, someone who is a family member, even if they are not named in the document, has an interest in you so are not allowed to serve as a witness.
The best rule of thumb is to find someone who can be impartial when they witness your document. Doing so will ensure that your transaction will not come into question down the road which can wreak havoc on your business.
Additionally, individuals who are inlaws should not be used as a witness to a legal document. This is because, while they are not technically blood relatives of yours, they are still family and are said to have an interest in the transaction.
In the case of a will, you have to be careful who you choose to witness the signing of this especially if the individual is named in the document. If this is the case, then anyone mentioned in the will could not be a witness since they will have an interest in the outcome.
Overall, finding an impartial person, while not as easy, is the best way to ensure that your document is protected. It should be noted that if you have any trouble finding someone to witness your legal document, you may want to consult a legal professional for advice.
Are the Requirements for a Witness Different in Some States?
For the most part, the regulations and requirements for a witness of a legal document are very similar from state to state. However, there may be some factors that are different depending on where you live.
For example, for real estate transactions, some states require that there be at least two witnesses for a legal document. In other states, however, one witness is considered to be sufficient for it to be legal.
Additionally, in some states, a notary public is not considered legal to act as a witness although they can notarize documents. Although, in many states, a notary can be a witness as long as one other impartial person is also a witness.
At the end of the day, it is important to be aware of the guidelines and requirements for who can be a witness for specific documents in the state where you live. Doing so can help you to ensure that your legal transactions are safe and secure.
Reference Legal Explanations
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"Who Can Witness a Legal Document?". Legal Explanations. Accessed on December 9, 2023. https://legal-explanations.com/blog/who-can-witness-a-legal-document/.
"Who Can Witness a Legal Document?". Legal Explanations, https://legal-explanations.com/blog/who-can-witness-a-legal-document/. Accessed 9 December, 2023
Who Can Witness a Legal Document?. Legal Explanations. Retrieved from https://legal-explanations.com/blog/who-can-witness-a-legal-document/.