What Makes a Will Valid?

Strictly speaking for a Will to be legally binding it needs to be written, signed and witnessed. However, there are a wide range of complex and legal requirements which need to be met to ensure the Will is valid and can be read as intended.

Valid Will | Wheelers Solicitors | Newport | Isle of WightRecently in New Zealand, a Will which was scribbled on the back of a postcard has been found valid by the High Court. The Will was drafted days before the testator died.

The Will was signed and dated and included notes on how the deceased wanted her estate to be distributed. The court declared that it was satisfied the signed and dated documents revealed the deceased’s intentions about her estate.

Whilst there have been other cases where Wills scribbled on back of beer mats and other similar seemingly valid Wills it is still recommended to have a Will drawn up correctly by a solicitor or other legal professional to ensure that your instructions and wishes are noted.

 

 

In the majority of cases for a Will to be valid there are requirements that need to be met:

Capacity
  • The testator must have been capable of making a valid Will at the time when the Will was made. They must be over 18 and of a sound mind, memory and understanding.
    Intention
    • The testator must clearly intend for the property to be distributed as set out in the Will after their death.
      Undue Influence
      • A Will will not be valid if the testator is under and influence or coercion from anyone else.
        Format/signature
        • Aside from a few exceptions a Will must be written. It also needs to be signed by the testator in the presence of 2 witnesses present at the same time who must also sign.
          Alterations
          • Any alterations made after the Will has been signed and executed will not be valid unless they have also been executed correctly
            Revocation
            • A Will is revoked by marriage, divorce, by making a later Will and intentionally destroying the Will.
            • Once the Will is revoked it is no longer valid.

While homemade handwritten Wills can meet the above requirements and be ‘valid’ Wills, often the people writing them won’t have thought through what happens if their family circumstances are not how they imagine them to be at the time of their death.  For example, if they wish to leave their whole estate to their partner, what do they want to happen to it if their partner has died before them?

Inheritance Tax potentially affects any Estates valued over £325,000 at a person’s date of death (although there are further allowances).  A professional will be able to advise you whether your estate is likely to incur an Inheritance Tax liability and whether there is any financial planning you can do to maximise the allowances available to you.

Wheelers Solicitors can fully support you in all stages of creating a Will. We will take the time to fully explain the process to you. If you would like to arrange an appointment to discuss making a Will, please phone the office on (01983) 533938 or contact us here.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.