My husband's deceased Aunt signed a simple 1 page will when she visited us in California in 1996 (she was a New York resident and that is where she died). The will was signed before a notary and 3 witnesses. Only one of the witnesses is a signature, the other two witnesse's names are printed. Does this make it voidable since 2 witnesses' names are only printed? The 2 witnesses are still living and could sign an avidavit if it came to that.
2 Answers from Attorneys
California law does not require a notary signature.
California law does require 2 witnesses to the persons signature. It does not say when the witnesses must verify their witnessing the Testator's signing the will. So, the witnesses can verify by affidavit that they witnessed your Aunt signing her will.
I always analyze will validity by asking first whether the will is a holographic will. A holographic will is a will where all the material terms and the signature of the testator (the person making the will, meaning your aunt) are in the handwriting of the testator. This is important, because holographic wills are valid if they are true holographic wills, and there is no need to discuss or worry about attestation clauses.
I could be wrong, but it sounds as though this was a typed will. It is not clear whether your aunt signed it from your post. (Obviously it would help to have a copy of the document in front of me.) The will must be signed either by the testator or in the testator's name by some other person in the testator's presence. (Prob. Code, sect. 6110.) If your Aunt did not sign the will or direct someone to sign the will for her in her presence, the will fails and it is invalid. DON'T ALTER IT NOW.
The will must also be signed by at least two (2) people, each of whom must be present at the same time, and witness either the signing of the will or the testator's acknowledgement of the signature or of the will, and understands that the instrument that they sign is the testator's will. One signature is not enough, and the will fails and is invalid. Having another witness sign now is incredibly suspicious. DON'T ALTER THE WILL NOW.
I suggest that you take the will, or make a copy of it, and have an attorney review it. I think that most probate attorneys would be willing to look at this for you as part of a free consultation.