Witness Information on Legal Documents

Updated March 21, 2017

Witnessing contracts and agreements is an old legal tradition meant to ensure that people don't accuse one another of modifying the contract or forging a signature. Today, witnesses are required for certain contracts in the form of a notary public.

Who Can be a Witness

It is generally accepted that individuals should be neutral third parties if they wish to witness a document. Bearing any relation to one of the other parties or having some sort of financial stake in the document itself will severely hurt the witness's credibility in a court of law.

When Witnesses Are Required

Although most documents do not need to be witnessed, some documents such as wills and deeds will require at least one witness. States vary on the number of witnesses required for these sorts of documents, and the parties should always confirm their state laws with a qualified attorney.

Notary Public

A notary public is a licensed public servant that is appointed by a state to witness the signing of contracts. Having a contract signed and stamped by a notary is the best way to ensure that a contract will be considered valid in court.

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About the Author

A freelance writer since 2007, Jack Spencer focuses primarily on legal and scientific topics. He also runs a copyrighting firm specializing in small-business marketing and academic research. Spencer received his B.A. in political science from the University of California.