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Contracts and deeds are legal documents that have varying degrees of influence over a relationship between people or a transaction. They are legally binding if they satisfy the elements of a legal document. One element you may need to satisfy is a witness signature. A witness signature is where a witness signs the document to testify that it is verified and truthful. If there is a dispute about the document, the court may call on the witness to give evidence. One of the people that may be able to witness your signature is your spouse. However, this is not always allowed. This article will explain whether your husband or wife can witness your signature in New Zealand.

What Documents Require a Witness Signature?

Most documents, such as simple contracts, do not require a witness signature. However, you must get a witness signature for those documents that do require them. These include:

  • wills;
  • oaths and affirmations;
  • enduring powers of attorney;
  • deeds; and
  • relationship property agreements.

This is not an exhaustive list but shows the type of documents that require a witness signature.

Why Do You Need a Witness Signature?

The reason for needing a witness is that some documents may be more complex than others. There may also be more at stake, so the law requires a witness to be present so there is an accurate record that both parties intend the contract or deed to be binding. Witnesses also certify that the document is valid. 

Can My Wife or Husband Witness My Signature?

A wife or husband can witness your signature. However, they must meet the requirements of a witness. They must be:

  • 18 years old or over; and
  • of sound mind.

Furthermore, a witness must not be:

  • under the influence of any substances;
  • a party to the agreement or have an interest in it; or
  • a beneficiary if the document is a trust or self-managed superannuation fund.

If your spouse meets all of the criteria, then they can witness your document.

Someone of sound mind is somebody who is not under any mental disadvantage that would stop them from providing a sound judgement as a witness

Does My Witness Have to Be In-Person to Witness a Signature?

As technology advances, the law has allowed people to witness their signatures electronically. However, there must be certain caveats followed when electronically witnessing your signature. You must make sure the signature adequately identifies the signatory and is a reliable form of identification. An electronic signature will be considered reliable as long as you do it with the signatory’s knowledge. The signature must also be authentic and accurate. You must also make sure that the person given the signature electronically consents to it being given in this fashion. 

Certain documents cannot be electronically signed. These include important documents such as affidavits and statutory declarations. 

Key Takeaways

All documents must satisfy the relevant legal requirements for them to be valid under the law. For contracts, this means the elements of a binding contract are satisfied. However, certain documents require an extra step, a witness. They allow the document to be authenticated and make sure that the parties to the contract agree to its contents. This means if there is a dispute about the formation of the contract, the witness can testify what has happened and whether the parties formed it correctly. Your spouse can be a witness to a signature as long as they do not have any financial interest in the contract or deed. For example, if you both live in a house and are trying to witness a sale contract, your spouse will not be able to witness your signature as they are interested in the house. 

For legal assistance with managing your contracts, contact LegalVision’s contract lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it best to get an independent witness to my signature?

Yes, it is always best to get an independent witness to your signature to be safe that they do not have an interest in the agreement.

Who will determine if my witness is of sound mind?

If there is a dispute brought about the soundness of mind of your witness, a judge, based on the advice of a medical professional, will determine if your witness is of unsound mind.

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