What Are the Requirements for a Will to Be Valid?

Ruth Wijay
Author:
Ruth Wijay
Head of Wills, Probate & Trusts
Date:
01/11/2021

For a Will to be valid, you must:

  • Be 18 years old or over
  • Put the Will in writing
  • Sign the Will in the presence of two witnesses
  • Have those two witnesses sign the Will in front of you after you have written and signed it
  • Have made the Will while you were sound of mind and have a full understanding of the decisions you’re making – this is called having mental capacity
  • Have made the Will voluntarily without any pressures from anyone else

You should also include the date on your Will. It won’t be invalid if you don’t but it’s advisable to include it.

If you don’t do all of the above when making a Will, it will be invalid.

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Can a Family Member Witness a Will?

It’s important to know that whoever witnesses your Will can’t inherit anything from it. They can be a beneficiary or executor, but you can’t leave any of your estate to them.

No-one a witness is married to or in a civil partnership can inherit from your Will either. For example, you couldn’t have your sister-in-law witness your Will and leave any inheritance to your brother. This doesn’t make your Will invalid, but it would mean your brother won’t get the inheritance you wanted him to.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, the rules around witnessing a Will have changed slightly. Your Will can now be witnessed:

  • In one of our offices
  • By your friends or neighbours
  • Through a window or open door
  • Outdoors, from a short distance

We have a number of Fixed Fee Will writing services which means you can be sure your Will is legally valid and have peace of mind your Estate will be passed down how you want it to.

What happens if a Will is Invalid?

If a Will is invalid, it means when you die your Estate won’t be distributed how you want it to. Instead, it will be shared out in accordance to the Rules of Intestacy, which means your assets will be distributed in this order:

  • Husband, wife or civil partner
  • Children/grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Uncles and aunts

So many people think that their inheritance will automatically go to their children, but anyone you are married to or in a civil partnership with will be the first to inherit. This can sometimes cause arguments in your family, and remember that by the time you die you might have more people in your life than you do now.

So it’s really important to set out clearly who you want to inherit what, and keep your Will updated, so you can be sure your wishes are being carried out when you die.

If your Will is invalid and this cause a Will or Probate dispute, your family might have to go certain legal processes to decide who should inherit what and this will cost them money and possibly a lot of distress.

To make a valid Will or if you’d like our legal experts to check or update your Will, get in touch today.

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