Witnesses to a will

The signing and witnessing of a will is crucial to the will being valid.
Understanding what the law states is therefore very important.
The wills act states the following –

No will shall be valid unless—
(a) it is in writing, and signed by the testator, or by some other person in his presence and by his direction; and

(b) it appears that the testator intended by his signature to give effect to the will; and

(c) the signature is made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time; and

(d) each witness either—

(i) attests and signs the will; or

(ii) acknowledges his signature, in the presence of the testator (but not necessarily in the presence of any other witness),
but no form of attestation shall be necessary.

Witnessing a will and what can go wrong

Despite the law requiring you to sign in the presence of 2 witnesses who are both over 18 we regularly encounter the following problems:-

  • The witnesses NOT signing at the same time
  • The person making the will not being in the presence of the witnesses
  • Witnesses, witnessing the signature at different times

Another important factor is that the witness must not be a beneficiary or married to a beneficiary as that gift under the will, will fail.

The wills act clearly stating :-

If any person shall attest the execution of any will to whom or to whose wife or husband any beneficial devise, legacy, estate, interest, gift, or appointment, of or affecting any real or personal estate (other than and except charges and directions for the payment of any debt or debts), shall be thereby given or made, such devise, legacy, estate, interest, gift, or appointment shall, so far only as concerns such person attesting the execution of such will, or the wife or husband of such person, or any person claiming under such person or wife or husband, be utterly null and void, and such person so attesting shall be admitted as a witness to prove the execution of such will, or to prove the validity or invalidity thereof, notwithstanding such devise, legacy, estate, interest, gift, or appointment mentioned in such will.

Issue with a signature or witness of a will 0845 269 3571 or complete our online enquiry form.

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