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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Is a Will signed with an "X" valid?

In the old days, people would sign documents with an "x" because they couldn't read or write. These days, documents are still occasionally signed with an "x" because even though the person signing can read and write, there is some physical impairment that prevents him or her from signing his or her name.

The physical impairment could be something that has been present from birth. It could be the result of a disease that is interfering with vision, or with motor functions, such as Parkinson's Disease. It could also be the result of an acute accident or illness situation in which the person is in a hospital bed, too weak or sick to sit up and sign properly.

These signatures are valid. In the case of a Will, the "x" signature, usually referred to as a "mark" must be explained in the Affidavit of Witness to Will that is attached to the Will. Each province has a different form for this Affidavit, but it serves the same purpose everywhere: to give evidence that the document was properly signed according to local laws.

A person signing with a mark rather than a signature would do so in front of two witness, as usual. Then one of the witnesses would sign and swear the Affidavit of Witness to Will that gives the details of the signing (e.g. that there were two witnesses, that nothing was handwritten in between the lines of the Will, etc). In the case of signing with a mark, an extra line or two would be added to the Affidavit to explain why a mark was used.

Not a lot of Wills are signed this way, but when they are, the signature is perfectly valid.

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