The Irish lawyer Maurice Healy recounts in his book, The Old Munster Circuit, the story of a well-to-do Irishman who made his money in America, and returned to Ireland to die.
He had quarreled with his family, and lived with a small farmer and his wife, who looked after him well. As often happens in such circumstances, the farmer's wife's one worry was to make sure of getting the old man's money.
The priest told him that it was his duty to make a will. "Leave the room!" the priest ordered the farmer's wife. Reluctantly she went and alone the priest helped the dying man to make his will. A serving girl was called in to be the second witness. As soon as the priest had departed, the wife could contain herself no longer: she crept into the room and, with the body lying stiff on the bed, searched everywhere for the will.
At last, she found it: all was well, everything was left to her and her husband. "There it stood," relates Healey, "witnessed by the priest and the girl." But she still felt unsafe. Somehow the piece of paper seemed so naked, with just those two signatures upon it, and that of the man now lying dead before her.
She took pen and ink, and wrote in her own name as that of a third witness - thereby signing away her own inheritance and that of her husband, and ensuring that everything went to the distant relatives in the United States whom her lodger, with almost his last breath, had tried to exclude.
Alas, she did not know that neither a witness nor the husband or wife of a witness can usually receive anything under a will that they sign as a witness.
(From an article, Willpower over the living, which appeared in The Malay Mail on August 5, 1983)