Whether I’m in the Marietta office or the Chattanooga office, clients will ask me during the final signing meeting if they should sign their Trust or Will using their full name. Their real concern is whether this formal document requires an equally formal signature. My advice is always to sign the document how they would normally sign other documents.
Challenging the signature or having to convince the Probate Court that the signature is genuine is a somewhat rare occurrence. But, in those instances where the Court needs proof that the signature is genuine, it will look to other documents to compare the signature.
Examples of documents where the Court might compare a decedent’s signature include a driver’s license, the backs of credit cards, social security cards, or personal letters with the decedent’s signature.
If the person doesn’t use a full, formal signature on those documents, it might cause the Court to question the signature on the Trust or Will. Failing to put a full, formal signature on the Trust or Will won’t invalidate the Will. In fact, in Georgia, a decedent doesn’t even have to sign the Will. The decedent could instruct another person to sign the Will on their behalf. One can imagine the scenario where the person has the inability to write due to a physical handicap.
So, as in most cases, it’s best to keep things simple and sign the Trust or Will how one would normally sign other important documents. It’s important to work with an estate planning attorney with an excellent working knowledge of the practical effects of the probate code, Wills, and Trusts. If you would like to have your plan set up the right way, the first time, call us at (678) 804-4374.