What are the common mistakes that you must avoid in order to make a valid Will? When does a Will become invalid?
There are a number of legal requirements that must be complied with for a Will to be valid. If mistakes are made, then a Will won’t be valid and your loved ones could end up missing out on the inheritance that you would have liked them to have.
There are three mistakes relating to the signing of a Will that are particularly easy to make.
Signing the Will
It is a legal requirement that a Will be signed by the person making it or if they cannot sign that they make their mark on it and that the signature or mark is also witnessed by two witnesses. If you are not able to sign yourself, for example, because of illness, incapacity or because you are blind, then it can be signed on your behalf. In this case the Will should also include a clause confirming that the contents were read to you and that you understand them.
If someone has lost the capacity to understand the implications of signing a Will, then they cannot make one. If there is likely to be a question over capacity at a later date, it is advisable to obtain a doctor’s certificate confirming that in their opinion, the person signing the Will did have the capacity to make it. This can be stored with the Will in case it is ever challenged on this basis.
Witnesses must be present
Two independent witnesses, preferably aged at least 18, must also sign the Will to confirm that they have witnessed the signature or that the signature has been acknowledged to them. The witnesses do not need to know what is in the Will but they can know that it is a Will.
They should then both sign the Will in the presence of each other as well in the presence of the person making the Will.
Witnesses cannot be beneficiaries
A witness cannot inherit anything under the terms of a Will that they have witnessed. If they are also included in the Will as a beneficiary, then the gift to them will fail. You should therefore ensure that your witnesses are not those to whom you are leaving anything.
This also extends to the spouse or civil partner of a beneficiary, meaning that if a beneficiary’s spouse witnesses the Will, any gift to that beneficiary would fail.
Video: The Do’s and Don’ts of Signing and Witnessing A Will
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