Guiding the hand of a testator signing a will

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It is a common misunderstanding that it is improper, unethical, or illegal to assist another person in writing his signature. In most jurisdictions, including California, this is not true:

“The fact that another person did the writing or guided the testator’s hand because he was physically weak comes within the provisions of section 1276 of the Civil Code, and raises no presumption against the due execution of the will. (Estate of Guilfoyle, 96 Cal. 598 [22 L.R.A. 37031 P. 553].)” Estate of Holloway, 195 Cal. 711, 719 (Cal. 1925)

Obviously, the other formal requirements for a valid witnessed will need to be met, chief among them the presence of at least two disinterested witnesses.

Two other options in case of the inability to write one’s full signature unassisted are 1) to have the testator make a mark in lieu of the signature his name being written near it by a person who writes his name as a witness (CA Civil Code Section 14). 2) to have another person sign the will in the testator’s name under the testator’s direction (CA Probate Code Section 6110).

Some practitioners believe that it may be preferable to guide the testator’s hand rather than relying on the signature in the testator’s name by another person because the former helps to establish the testator’s participation in the creation of the will.

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