Sunday, September 7, 2014

Can Someone Sign My Living Will For Me?

This is a situation that is more commonplace than expected. As we get older, it is increasingly difficult to write anything, including our own name. We know exactly how to do it, but our hands don't want to cooperate.

Unfortunately, we have to keep writing even in old age. There are bills to pay, checks to sign, applications to make, and a wide variety of other documents. Even worse, or signature changes over time. If you have a bank that is good with customer service, they can know these differences, and is best to update your signature cards every year or--they then know it is you signing the checks.

The signature can become be jerky or illegible. As such, is not uncommon for an adult child to take over as far as signing checks, contracts, credit cards, and alike. Here are some rules to be followed in such cases.

Having someone sign for you.

This is can be done if the testator (person signing the will) cannot otherwise sign. This is usually because of infirmity of age. As stated above, this is typically done by an adult child. There is no requirement of having signed for your parents before, although that certainly helps.

The key is the testator must clearly direct the other person to sign. There can be absolutely no doubt in this situation.

Many states have amended their probate codes to make this available. There must be an express and clear direction by the testator to have this done. Further, the signing must be in the "conscious presence" of the testator. This typically means in the physical proximity of the testator, who can readily be aware the signature is being placed on the paper. But, this does not mean it has to be in the testator's direct line of sight.

Example: Joy has been relying upon her daughter for some time to sign paperwork. On the occasion of her signing the will, Joy was sitting upright in bed, but has trouble moving her head from side to side. It would have been easy for her to turn completely to the left and see the signing on a table nearby, but this was not possible. So, with the table as close to the bed as possible, the daughter instructed her mother that she was now signing it. Her mother could not see the actual signing. But her mother could easily hear and understand what was going on. This will be sufficient.

The bottom line: make sure there is express authorization from the testator and at least two witnesses in attendance. And the right living will form to confirm all of this.

Sue Malone is the founder of, the Internet's premiere site for attorney-prepared online legal forms (providing do-it-yourself documents for over 25 years). All documents are fully editable, come with free updates for life, reasonably priced (starting at $25), and have an unlimited license for their use. Call for a free consultation--all reps have a law degree. (800) 995-9434. Or visit: [].
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