Signing a will in a language you can’t speak

Mourning

Last week, I blogged about signing a will when you have visual impairment that prevents you from reading the will. This week, I thought I would write about something related: what happens when you need to sign a will (or other document, for that matter) but you can’t speak the language it has to be in?

Of course, you can always sign any document you want, but it is rarely a good idea to sign something you absolutely cannot understand. What I have usually done as a practical solution in these situations, if it is a language I speak (being French and German), is to translate for the client as we go. If it is a language I do not speak, I will do my best to find another lawyer who can speak that language (I was successful once in finding a local lawyer who spoke Czech). If that fails, I will generally refuse to assist with the signing rather than have a client sign a document without any confirmation that he or she knows what is being signed.

There is rarely a need so urgent that a document must be signed when you can’t understand it.

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