Who can Witness a Will?
It is very easy for Wills to be invalidated because of how they are executed (signed). The laws governing Will writing and what makes a Will valid under English and Welsh law are fairly old but still very much used today and there is a lot of case law which has developed this over the years.
In simple terms, however, Section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 says that the testator’s signature (a “Testator” is the person whose Will it is) must have their signature made or acknowledged in the presence of two or more witnesses who must be present at the same time.
These witnesses should be able to see the Testator sign the document. The two witnesses must then sign or acknowledge their signature in the Testator’s presence. The witnesses don’t necessarily need to see each other sign the document but as long as they could have done (i.e. one went to grab a coffee from the other room before they come back in and sign the document themselves – that witness could have seen the other one sign). But it’s best to both be there at the same time!
Who Can Be a Witness to a Will?
A witness should be an adult, of sound mind (i.e. mentally present and conscious of the act that is being carried out) and independent. This means that the witness cannot be a beneficiary of anything in the Will or married/civil partnered to someone who is a beneficiary under the Will. If this does happen then that Witness’ gift or the gift to their spouse will be revoked.
There are lots of other ways that a Will can be made invalid, so it is always best to check with a suitably qualified Solicitor to ensure your wishes are met. Also, if you meet with us to make your Will, we will provide the witnesses for you as part of the service, taking any potential problems out of the equation.