What makes a valid will?
Leaving a valid will in place means that after your death, your property and possessions will be distributed in accordance with your wishes when your estate is administered. It is one of the most important documents a person can sign.
For your will to be valid, you need to be aged over 18 (although there are some exceptions to this rule). You must make it voluntarily without pressure from anyone else. You must have what is referred to as ‘testamentary capacity’, that is the mental capacity required to understand the implications of making a will and the effect it will have. The document needs to be in writing, and although there is no legal requirement for it to be dated, it is considered good practice to do so as it prevents arguments about which will is the correct one, if you write a new will later on.
If you are unable to sign your will because of illness or incapacity, it can be signed on your behalf as long as you have mental capacity, and the will contains a modified ‘attestation clause’ that confirms that you understood the contents of the document before it was signed.
To be valid, your will must be signed and witnessed. Two adult witnesses will be required and each must sign. It is important to note that you must sign your will with both witnesses present at the same time.
Witnesses cannot benefit from the will; neither can their husbands, wives or civil partners. If you leave anything to a witness of your will, they won’t be entitled to receive it. It should not however invalidate the rest of the will.
An executor can witness the will, but if they do, they cannot then benefit under it.
Revisiting your will
If you already have a will, it is a good idea to review it from time to time, especially if your circumstances have changed; we can help ensure that its terms are still in accordance with your wishes and meet your requirements.