Law Offices Of Thomas Sciacca, PLLC

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Can Visually Impaired New Yorkers Sign Wills?

Visually impaired man in wireless earphones

{Read in 3 Minutes}  As a Trusts and Estates attorney, writing Wills makes up a large share of my practice. As part of an overall estate plan, a Will is an important document that states how a person’s assets will pass upon their death. Writing a Will is a personal decision and something that an attorney and their client often spend a significant amount of time working on — to ensure that the finished product fully represents the client’s wishes.

Everyone has different needs when it comes to working with attorneys. For example, some people are not fluent in English and may need the assistance of a translator. Some people may be nervous about signing a Will and benefit from a little bit of the lawyer’s personality and charm in helping them navigate what they view as a difficult process. But what about people who have limited vision?

Under New York State law, visually impaired people can sign a Will. It happens somewhat often for people with limited vision, people who are visually impaired, or people who have no sight at all.

•People with limited vision often sign Wills under New York State law. How do they do this? First, there is software they can use to enlarge the print when they are reviewing the document. They can also have software read documents aloud to them, which is helpful in the review process.

•When it comes time to sign the Will, the way the attorney supervises its execution largely depends on the amount the client can see. For example, some people have limited vision but can read a document clearly using a magnifier. When this is the case, the attorney will often work with them to make sure that they can read every word on the page and make copious notes, just in case anyone challenges the Will at a later time. 

•For people with extremely limited vision, or who are completely unable to see, the attorney can read every word of the Will aloud to the client, from start to finish. It may take a fair amount of time, but ultimately, the law is a customer service profession, and reading aloud is just meeting the needs of a particular client. When an attorney does this, the self-proving affidavit will state that the attorney has done this, so that the subscribing witnesses can attest that the client heard every word of the Will read aloud before signing it.

Like any other client, there are certain formalities that people with limited vision need to observe when signing Wills. They need to sign it properly and request two witnesses to sign. They must also have testamentary capacity. But there is absolutely no reason that a person with reduced or limited vision cannot make a Will under New York State law.

If you would like more information on this topic, contact me.