Saturday, October 12, 2019
The most commonly viewed method of properly executing a last will and testament is by the decedent signing the document in front of two witnesses. But New Jersey's statute also allows for two other methods for a valid execution in lieu of the preferred manner.
Instead if actually signing the document in the presence of the witnesses, the decedent acknowledges to the witness that in it was his or her signature, and then the witness would sign the document. This method works when a witness to the will is not at the same location as the notary who may eventually notarize the document. The will may be signed before the notary, and then the other witness can witness the will after the decedent has acknowledged his or her signature.
The other way for a valid execution is that the will does not have to contain the decedent’s signature for it to be witnessed by a witness, provided the decedent makes it clear to the witness that the document is indeed his or her last will and testament. This can occur if the decedent wants a person to witness the will before taking it to a notary who will notarize the signature.
See Paul W. Norris, Valid Execution of a Will, NJ Law Blog, October 8, 2019.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.