Q: If a will is signed by the testator on one date and the witnesses on a different date is the will still good?
will created and signed in California for a now Wisconsin resident
A: NO. 755 ILCS 5/4-3 requires that every will be in writing, signed by the testator or by some person in his presence and by his direction and attested in the presence of the testator by 2 or more credible witnesses. Under your scenario, the "credible witnesses" did not attest in the presence of the testator. In my opinion, you have a defective will and the court will not likely admit the will to probate.
A: That depends on certain situations. In general, for a will, the witness must be present when witnessing the signing and also sign indicating that they witnessed the signing. However, during the Pandemic, the Governor of Illinois issued and executive order (2020-14) which allowed for the use of two-way audio-video technology for the signing of wills. Part of the order required that the signed transmitted copy of the document be signed by the witness and sent back to the signatory within 24 hours. This did cause some confusion regarding if the witness should use the date it was originally signed, or the date they signed (which could be the next day). In addition to that, witnesses were allowed to sign the original document within 30 days of the original signature date. Again, there was often times confusion as to what date to put as the "signature" date.
If the signing of the will occurred during the pandemic and fell under executive order 2020-14, then it is possible that there may be different signature and witness signing dates, and it should not necessarily invalidate the will.
Relevant sections of executive order 2020-14:
h. The signatory must transmit by fax or electronic means a legible copy of the entire signed document directly to the witness no later than the day after the document is signed;
i. The witness must sign the transmitted copy of the document as a witness and transmit the signed copy of the document back via fax or electronic means to the signatory within 24 hours of receipt; and,
j. If necessary, the witness may sign the original signed document as of the date of the original execution by the signatory provided that the witness receives the original signed document together with the electronically witnessed copy within thirty days from the date of the remote witnessing.
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