Attestation

DEFINITION of 'Attestation'

The act of witnessing the signing of a document and then also signing it to verify that it was properly signed by those bound by its contents.

BREAKING DOWN 'Attestation'

Broadly speaking, an attestation is a third party recognition of a documented agreement's validity.  Ideally, the person or party acting as the witness of the signing has no professional or personal association with either of the signatories, and in some states this criterion is enforced by state probate law.  Attestations are particularly associated with agreements of great personal and financial significance, especially legal documents involving wills or power of attorney.  Attestations are also used when a witness is filing a police report.  The witness signs to confirm that their statement is valid, and another person signs as attestation that the first signature was authentic.

Attestations are most commonly associated with wills and trusts.  In this situation, an attestation generally verifies

  • That the testator (the person signing the will) is of sound mind
  • That the testator executed the will voluntarily as an expression of his or her intentions
  • That the testator signed the will and that the party performing the attestation witnessed the signing 

The form and application of attestation clauses to legal documents is prescribed by state probate law in the United States.  While attestation clauses may vary somewhat from state to state, the essential function and intent of the attestation is generally consistent.  In 1946, the American Bar Association published a Model Probate Code which was intended to act as a legal standard.  Most state probate codes are closely based on the 1946 code, with occasional minor adjustments.  For the most part, the biggest variations in attestation clauses from state to state relate to who can perform a third party attestation.

The process of attestation arises from the venerable human tradition of seeking independent verification of recorded events.  Biblical scholars have long used the criterion of multiple attestation to determine which miracles Jesus can be said to have performed.  Historians are always more confident of an event when they have multiple sources verifying its occurence.  While the principle of verifying an event can be found throughout human history, the qualifications or criteria for verification generally conform to the social norms and legal standards of the society in question.  

RELATED TERMS
  1. Estate Planning

    The collection of preparation tasks that serve to manage an individual's ...
  2. Will

    A legally enforceable declaration of how a person wishes his ...
  3. Estate

    A person's estate is everything comprising the net worth of an ...
  4. Power Of Attorney

    A legal document giving one person (called an "agent" or "attorney-in-fact") ...
  5. Novation

    1.The act of replacing one participating member of a contract ...
  6. Maintenance Margin

    The minimum amount of equity that must be maintained in a margin ...
Related Articles
  1. Retirement

    Will Your Retirement Income Be Enough?

    Find out how to determine whether you're on the path to a comfortable retirement, or financial ruin.
  2. Retirement

    Why You Should Draft A Will

    Don't trust the courts to follow your wishes - plan the distribution of your own assets.
  3. Trading Strategies

    10 Tips For The Successful Long-Term Investor

    These guiding principles will help you avoid common folly during the decision-making process.
  4. Options & Futures

    Your Will: Why You Need A Power Of Attorney And Beneficiaries

    What would happen if you were suddenly unable to manage your financial affairs? Preparation is the best protection.
  5. Taxes

    Why People Renounce Their U.S Citizenship

    This year, the highest number of Americans ever took the irrevocable step of giving up their citizenship. Here's why.
  6. Personal Finance

    What it Takes to Get a Green Card

    Grounds for getting a green card include having family members in the U.S., being a certain type of refugee or specialized worker, or winning a lottery.
  7. Career Education & Resources

    Laws & Regulations To Know Before Changing the Name of Your Business

    Discover some of the most important steps you need to take after making a decision to change your legally established business name.
  8. Personal Finance

    Passport Procrastinators: This Year, Renew Early!

    Millions of passports issued nearly 10 years ago when the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative became law are expiring. Expect backlogs; leave extra time.
  9. Term

    Understanding Rule 144A

    Rule 144A is an SEC rule that changes the two-year holding period requirement on privately placed securities.
  10. Retirement

    Power of Attorney: When It's Critical to Get One

    "The sooner the better" is the usual answer.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What is the Writ of Mandamus?

    A writ of mandamus is a court order issued by a judge at a petitioner’s request compelling someone to execute a duty he is ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Are UTMA accounts escheatable?

    Like most financial assets held by institutions such as banks and investment firms, UTMA accounts can be escheated by state ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Can the IRS audit you after a refund?

    The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can audit tax returns even after it has issued a tax refund to a taxpayer. According ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does escheatment impact a company?

    In recent years, state governments have become increasingly aggressive in enforcing escheatment laws. As a result, many businesses ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What happens if property is wrongfully escheated?

    If your financial accounts, such as bank, investment or savings accounts, are declared dormant and the managing financial ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How do financial advisors help you avoid escheatment?

    Financial advisors can help you avoid the escheatment of your financial assets by regularly reviewing all of your accounts, ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Inverted Yield Curve

    An interest rate environment in which long-term debt instruments have a lower yield than short-term debt instruments of the ...
  2. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
  3. Presidential Election Cycle (Theory)

    A theory developed by Yale Hirsch that states that U.S. stock markets are weakest in the year following the election of a ...
  4. Super Bowl Indicator

    An indicator based on the belief that a Super Bowl win for a team from the old AFL (AFC division) foretells a decline in ...
  5. Flight To Quality

    The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
Trading Center