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What are the witness requirements for a valid New Hampshire will?

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2024 | Estate Planning

Drafting a will is an important step for many adults. The creation of a will can give someone peace of mind, as they no longer have to worry about what might happen to their loved ones if an emergency occurs.

A will can name a guardian for their children and arrange for the distribution of their property. It can even provide guidance about their preferences for memorial services or information about a pre-paid memorial service package they purchased. Yet, not every will actually has influence during probate court proceedings. Some people draft documents that are not legally valid.

What New Hampshire requires

There are several requirements that New Hampshire imposes on testators putting together estate plans. For example, the documents that people draft have to comply with state law. The testator typically needs to be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind. The will itself should be a written document, not a video or an audio recording. The testator generally needs to physically sign the document unless they cannot do so due to functional limitations.

The state also requires Witnesses to attest to the validity of the document. Witnesses can affirm that the testator drafted the paperwork and did so of their own volition if there are challenges against the estate plan in probate court.

What are the current witness requirements?

New Hampshire does not require notarization for a will to be valid. Some lawyers provide their clients with notary services, but they are not necessary for a will to have legal authority in the New Hampshire probate courts. Instead, what the testator needs is the signatures of witnesses. Currently, valid wills in New Hampshire should have two adult witnesses who can attest to the identity and cognitive state of the testator. Technically, any adult could serve as a witness, but it is often most effective to choose witnesses who do not directly benefit from the estate plan. That limits the likelihood of someone claiming undue influence or fraud in the future after someone dies.

Testators who establish estate plans compliant with New Hampshire state law can feel more confident about their control over their finances and their ability to support their loved ones. As such, understanding witness requirements and other basic state statutes may benefit those preparing to draft or update a will.

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