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People who have lost the ability to sign and those who are sight impaired can still execute wills

Thursday, September 26, 2019
Even if you have lost your ability to write you can still make a valid will.  Louisiana allows a person to make his or her mark instead of a signature if the will has the appropriate language indicating that the person knows how to read and can read but has lost the ability to sign through physical infirmity. Louisiana Civil Code article 1578 provides: 


When a testator knows how to sign his name and to read, and is physically able to read but unable to sign his name because of a physical infirmity, the procedure for execution of a notarial testament is as follows:
(1) In the presence of the notary and two competent witnesses, the testator shall declare or signify to them that the instrument is his testament, that he is able to see and read but unable to sign because of a physical infirmity, and shall affix his mark where his signature would otherwise be required; and if he is unable to affix his mark he may direct another person to assist him in affixing a mark, or to sign his name in his place. The other person may be one of the witnesses or the notary.
(2) In the presence of the testator and each other, the notary and the witnesses shall sign the following declaration, or one substantially similar: “In our presence the testator has declared or signified that this is his testament, and that he is able to see and read and knows how to sign his name but is unable to do so because of a physical infirmity; and in our presence he has affixed, or caused to be affixed, his mark or name at the end of the testament and on each other separate page, and in the presence of the testator and each other, we have subscribed our names this _____day of ____, _____.”



Additionally, persons who are sight impaired may also execute wills. Louisiana Civil Code article 1579 provides:


           When a testator does not know how to read, or is physically impaired to the extent that he cannot read, whether or not he is able to sign his name, the procedure for execution of a notarial testament is as follows:
(1) The written testament must be read aloud in the presence of the testator, the notary, and two competent witnesses. The witnesses, and the notary if he is not the person who reads the testament aloud, must follow the reading on copies of the testament. After the reading, the testator must declare or signify to them that he heard the reading, and that the instrument is his testament. If he knows how, and is able to do so, the testator must sign his name at the end of the testament and on each other separate page of the instrument.
(2) In the presence of the testator and each other, the notary and witnesses must sign the following declaration, or one substantially similar: “This testament has been read aloud in our presence and in the presence of the testator, such reading having been followed on copies of the testament by the witnesses [, and the notary if he is not the person who reads it aloud,] and in our presence the testator declared or signified that he heard the reading, and that the instrument is his testament, and that he signed his name at the end of the testament and on each other separate page; and in the presence of the testator and each other, we have subscribed our names this ____day of ____, ______.”
(3) If the testator does not know how to sign his name or is unable to sign because of a physical infirmity, he must so declare or signify and then affix his mark, or cause it to be affixed, where his signature would otherwise be required; and if he is unable to affix his mark he may direct another person to assist him in affixing a mark or to sign his name in his place. The other person may be one of the witnesses or the notary. In this instance, the required declaration must be modified to recite in addition that the testator declared or signified that he did not know how to sign his name or was unable to do so because of a physical infirmity; and that he affixed, or caused to be affixed, his mark or name at the end of the testament and on each other separate page.
(4) A person who may execute a testament authorized by either Article 1577 or 1578 may also execute a testament authorized by this Article.



It is very important that the exact language of the statutes is followed and the will is executed in the exact manner that the law requires. Failure to follow the rules exactly invalidates the will. If you have questions or concerns about the ability to execute a will, please contact us for a free consultation.