Warm Body Witnesses


A witness to a document is simply testifying that they saw a person sign (or execute) a document and that they know who that person is. Witnesses do not have to have any relationship to the person executing the document although they have to be old enough to legally sign a document themselves. Do not assume that witnesses are related to the person signing the document. The witnesses could simply be other people who happened to be nearby when the document was signed.



3 thoughts on “Warm Body Witnesses

  1. Jade

    The first-signing witness might be the one who actually wrote out the document: a Court official, a literate local merchant or neighbor or a paid scrivener.

    1. Kay

      Not usually, I spend hours each week witnessing documents for people that simply show me their identifications. Often I notorize documents the same way, the only difference is I make a copy of the ID’s if I am the Notary.

    2. michaeljohnneill Post author

      That’s a good point. I’ve seen Civil War pension files where many affidavits have the Justice of the Peace or clerk as one of the witnesses. Same thing with wills where the lawyer was one of the witnesses. The handwriting is often a clue.

      There are some of my German immigrants that I know were literate in German (but not English) where the witnesses were other Germans. I’ve often wondered if the witnesses could read enough English to make certain the document said what the signer intended–but that’s speculation.


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