Can an interested party act as a witness to a will?

Though we’d like to think that our family members are all trustworthy and have our aging loved ones’ best interests in mind, residents in Denver have probably heard a story or two about a family member who has taken advantage financially of an elderly family member. In some cases, this is done through power of attorney privileges, while in other cases, this is done through coercion or pressure to include certain provisions in a will.

However this financial abuse takes place, most people see it as bad behavior, which raises question about protections under the law. Take for example the last illustration of financial abuse above – coercing someone to include certain provisions in a will. If a family member planned on doing this, you might not want them to be a witness to the signing of the will because that individual might write themselves into the will and reap the benefits later on. Considering this, we ask this question:

Can an interested party act as a witness to a will in Colorado?

The answer is yes. Under § 15-11-505 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, “an interested witness does not invalidate the will or any provision of it.” This does not mean, however, that an interested witness can coerce the individual who is drafting the will into including the witness. This is still consider unlawful behavior and can lead to litigation that questions the legitimacy of the will.

Those who are new to Colorado should know about this variation in our law because this is not necessarily how other states handle interested witnesses. Take Rhode Island for example. In that state, interested witnesses are prohibited by law from receiving anything from a will. Those who move from another state to Colorado should keep this in mind, especially because it may mean the redrafting of an estate plan with the help of an attorney to come into compliance with our state’s laws.