WillsWitnessing a Will

26 January 2018by WillPack

Arguably the most essential step when making a Will is the attestation of the Will itself, as all Wills must be signed and witnessed for them to be valid.

Along with the testator signing the Will, their signature must be witnessed by two independent people. This means that the witnesses must not be a beneficiary, or the spouse/civil partner a beneficiary of the Will. If a beneficiary, or their spouse/civil partner witnesses the Will and the testator subsequently passes away before the error is rectified, the legacy made to that beneficiary will be declared void, rather than invalidating the Will entirely. If, however only one person has acted as a witness to the Will, then the Will would be invalid as section 9 of the Wills Act 1837, states that two or more witnesses must be used.

It is not a legal requirement that a Will should be dated for it to be valid. However, the date proves that it is in fact the testator’s last Will, without this needing to be proved leading to possible time delays and expense on the Estate. It is therefore important that the date is shown.

A witness does not need to read the contents of the Will if the testator does not wish them to do so. A witness is signing to clarify that it was indeed the testator who signed the Will, and that they signed with complete understanding and acceptance of the contents of their Will. The witnesses are also signing with the belief that the testator is of sound mind and acting under their own free will, i.e. not under any undue influence, or under the influence of any intoxicating substances such as alcohol.

If the testator cannot understand English, an independent interpreter must be used to translate the Will to the testator to ensure they can understand the contents and are satisfied the documents meets the wishes of the testator. The interpreter must act as one of the two required witnesses as they will also confirm that the testator understood the contents of the Will.

In these cases, WillPack can prepare the Wills with the attestation page prepopulated to specify that the testator cannot understand English, but it has been read to them in the language that they do understand by an interpreter. We would require details of the required language and the details of the interpreter so meet these needs.

by WillPack

Please note that we are only insured to provide advice to our partners. If you require any advice we would recommend contacting the Society of Will Writers on [email protected] or 01522 687888 who will be able to put you in contact with a will writer local to you.