Signing a Will
A Will is one of the most important documents you’ll ever create. It ensures your estate is handled according to your wishes once you’ve passed away and will minimise any family disputes over money and belongings. A Will can also provide financial protection for surviving children and loved ones, but it’s important to ensure your Will is valid – and that means having it witnessed and signed by the right people. While a Kent accountant for probate services can help iron out any difficulties with the allocation of an estate, it’s important to get things right while you’re still fit, healthy and of sound mind. So, let’s find out more about Will witnesses.
Why Does a Will Need to be Witnessed?
A Will needs to be witnessed to make it legally binding. The rules are strict and if they’re not followed, your Will could be invalidated. In England and Wales, you will need two independent witnesses, whereas the law in Scotland simply requires one legal witness – but you can have more if you choose. First, you should sign your Will in the presence of all witnesses. Then, each witness should add their signature alongside details like their name, address and occupation. This gives your Will more strength should it ever be contested in the future.
A Will also needs to be Witnessed to ensure you’re legally and mentally in a position to make such a document. Demonstrating ‘testamentary capacity’ as it’s known is crucial, as it will prevent others from claiming you weren’t of sound mind when the Will was put together. If someone can do all four of the following things, testamentary capacity is accepted by the law.
- Understand the extent and value of their property
- Understand they’re making a Will and deciding who will inherit their property
- Understand who the people are that are closest to them and may be expecting something in the Will
- Not be suffering from a delusion which makes them act differently to normal
Who Can’t Witness and Sign a Will by Law?
A Will can only be witnessed and signed by those over the age of 18. You can ask anyone you trust such as a friend, neighbour or colleague, but be aware that a witness can’t be a beneficiary of the Will or be married to a beneficiary. This is to avoid foul play. If a beneficiary’s spouse witnesses a Will, this does not invalidate it. However, the beneficiary must forfeit their right to any share of the estate. Those who are blind or partially sighted also can’t witness a Will, because the witness has to see the physical act of putting pen to paper.
If you want to get your estate in order before updating your Will, it’s well worth speaking to an estate planner such as Nick Hughes. Once your finances have been suitably organised you can then start to think about inheritance and estate distribution. A Will should be updated every time a significant change happens in life such as a marriage or the birth of a child.
Infographic created by Goodnight Law, experienced probate lawyer in Oklahoma City