Definition of attestation clause
In the statutory law of wills and trusts, an attestation clause is a clause that is typically appended to a will, often just below the place of the testator's signature.
Attestation clauses were introduced into probate law with the promulgation of the first version of the Model Probate Code in the 1940s. A typical attestation clause reads:
We, the undersigned testator and the undersigned witnesses, respectively, whose names are signed to the attached or foregoing instrument declare:
- that the testator executed the instrument as the testator's will;
- that, in the presence of both witnesses, the testator signed or acknowledged the signature already made or directed another to sign for the testator in the testator's presence;
- that the testator executed the will as a free and voluntary act for the purposes expressed in it;
- that each of the witnesses, in the presence of the testator and of each other, signed the will as a witness;
- that the testator was of sound mind when the will was executed; and
- that to the best knowledge of each of the witnesses the testator was, at the time the will was executed, at least eighteen (18) years of age or was a member of the armed forces or of the merchant marine of the United States or its allies.
This attestation clause is modeled on the Model Probate Code's version. Statutes that authorize self-proved wills typically provide that a will that contains this language will be admitted to probate without affidavits from the attesting witnesses. In order to issue an attestation report, Active CPA status is required by federal law.
The validity and form of an attestation clause is usually a matter of U.S. state law, and will vary from state to state. Many states allow attestation clauses to be added as codicils to wills that were originally drafted without them.
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