Can a Beneficiary Witness a Will In Georgia?

A beneficiary is technically allowed to witness a will in Georgia, but doing so is not a good idea, because it renders the gift void.

Gift To Beneficiary Witness Void Unless Two Other Subscribing Witnesses

The testamentary gift to a beneficiary witness is void under Georgia law unless two other subscribing witnesses witness the will — Georgia requires that a will be attested and subscribed by two competent witnesses.

Georgia Code § 53-4-23 states:

(a) If a subscribing witness is also a beneficiary under the will, the witness shall be competent; but the testamentary gift to the witness shall be void unless there are at least two other subscribing witnesses to the will who are not beneficiaries under the will.

(b) An individual may be a witness to a will by which a testamentary gift is given to that individual’s spouse, the fact going only to the credibility of the witness.

 

Therefore, a beneficiary witness can testify as to the execution of the will in order to establish the will as valid, but the testamentary gift to the beneficiary witness is void under Georgia law unless there are two other subscribing witnesses to the will.

If a testamentary gift is given to the spouse of a witness, the gift is not automatically void.  The relation of the witness to the beneficiary only goes to the credibility of the witness to establish the validity of the will.  Georgia law on this point is different than other states, like Illinois, where a provision in favor of the spouse of a witness is void as to that beneficiary and all people claiming under him.

Should a Beneficiary Witness a Will In Georgia?

No, it is much simpler to not involve a beneficiary of the will as a witness to a Georgia will.  The presence of a beneficiary at the execution of the will puts the validity of the will in question, and will only aid a will challenge.

It is a much better practice to have disinterested witnesses serve as the required witnesses to a Georgia will.  A Georgia probate attorney will avoid using a beneficiary as a witness whenever possible.

General Probate Issues