A competent witness is one who has the sufficient mental capacity to perceive, remember, and narrate the incident they have observed. A competent witness must also be able to understand and appreciate the nature and obligation of an oath. For example, a child who is unable to understand the meaning of an oath because of their young age is not a competent witness.
In statutes relating to the execution of wills, a competent witness is a person who has attested to the will by subscribing their name, and at the time they attested, could legally testify to the will in court. Additionally, persons legally disqualified from testifying because of mental incapacity, personal interest, or conviction of a crime are not competent witnesses.
A witness is generally presumed by the court to be competent. As a result, a party wishing to challenge the competency of a witness must move to exclude the witness’s testimony under Federal Rule of Evidence 403.
[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]