Making a valid will

You must ensure that the will you make is valid. There are a number of points on this subject that you should bear in mind.

Signing the will

The will must be signed and dated by you as ‘testator.’ The will can also be signed on your behalf in your presence and by your direction.

In the presence of witnesses

You must sign the will in the presence of two witnesses who then sign the will in your presence.

In England and Wales, anyone of legal age (over 18) can be a witness who is not blind and is capable of understanding the nature and effect of what they are doing.

In Scotland, you only need one witness over the age of 16.

A witness should be neither a beneficiary in the will nor married to, or the civil partner of, a beneficiary. If they are, although the will remains a valid and legal document, the gift to the beneficiary cannot be paid.

An executor or a professional adviser, who may wish to charge for their services, can act as a witness unless they are also a beneficiary.

The will must be in pristine condition

The will must be in pristine condition and show no signs of tampering or alteration.

Any marks even those from a missing paper clip or pin can render the will invalid. The reason for this is that marks on a will of any kind raise questions about whether a part of the will is missing a part or that a later amendment was made.

The will must be an original document. A photocopy is not acceptable. All documents referred to in the will must also be available.

Appointment of executors

The will must appoint executors to administer the estate. If no executors are appointed in the will then the ‘partial intestacy rules’ will apply.

For further information on the rules of intestacy please see the separate section on probate.

The will must dispose the whole of the estate

The will must dispose of the whole of the deceased person’s estate.

If beneficiaries have died before the person who made the will and no substitute provision has been made in the will for this event then the will is not effective for the entire estate. In this case the partial intestacy rules apply.

Marriage renders an existing will invalid

Finally, as marriage renders an existing will invalid, the will must not predate the date when the deceased person married.

The exception to this rule is that a will written in contemplation of marriage will be valid.

Please note

The information which we provide through Lasting Post is in outline for information or educational purposes only. The information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a solicitor, accountant or other professional adviser. We cannot guarantee that information provided by Lasting Post will meet your individual needs, as this will very much depend on your individual circumstances. You should therefore use the information only as a starting point for your enquiries.