Certain formalities must be carried out for a Will to be valid.
The increasing number of homemade or DIY Wills on the market has increased the chances of problems going unnoticed. Wills put together and executed without any input from a solicitor can often lead to problems.
Will validity checklist:
- The Will must be in writing
- It must be signed by the testator (or signed on the testator’s behalf in their presence and by their direction) in the presence of two witnesses. The witnesses must also sign the Will in the testator’s presence.
- Both witnesses must be independent. This means they must not be a beneficiary of the Will, married to a beneficiary, or in a civil partnership with a beneficiary. In such circumstances that beneficiary’s gifts will fail, (they won’t get anything) although the rest of the Will remains valid. This may in turn lead to a partial or even total state of intestacy where the estate is divided up according to the law instead of the deceased’s wishes.
As well as being valid in this technical sense a Will must serve its purpose by fulfilling the following criteria:
- The Will must reflect the true wishes of a person with the mental capacity to decide how to distribute their estate.
- No undue influence may have been used to dictate the testator’s decisions in how to distribute their estate
If any of these are in doubt it may be possible to contest the Will.
Even if a Will is completely valid a close relative who has not been provided for may still be able to claim under the Inheritance Act.
Mistakes that do not affect the substance of the Will can sometimes be rectified without overturning the whole Will by applying to the court for corrections to be made.
Our experienced contentious probate solicitors resolve disputes as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. Court proceedings are only used as a last resort and at all times clients are guided through every step of the legal process.