Witnessing a Will

Important things to remember when getting a Will witnessed

There are two main ways for a Will to be signed:

  • in front of the lawyer in their office
  • by the testator at home (a ‘testator' is the person who is the subject of the Will)

It is usually preferrable that the Will is completed under the supervision of the professional who drafted it to ensure the strict requirements are met.  However, this may not always be possible for example in cases of ill-health or emergency.

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If you find yourself executing your Will without expert supervision, there are some important steps to remember:

  • the testator must sign the Will in the presence of two witnesses
  • the testator and both witnesses must be present together when the Will is signed and completed
  • the witnesses cannot be a beneficiary or potential beneficiary under the Will nor a spouse or civil partner of a beneficiary or potential beneficiary
  • as well as their signature, the witnesses should include their full printed name, full address and occupation
  • the Will must be dated once completed
  • the Will should be handled carefully and not be marked in any way or have anything attached or fixed to it. This includes staples or paperclips, otherwise it could risk the validity of the Will.

Although you are not required to allow your witness the opportunity to read or examine the Will, the reality is that it can be difficult to avoid as the signature part immediately follows the main body of the Will and where there are multiple pages, they will be bound as one document.  You should therefore aim to use witnesses who you can trust to be discrete.

Other than limited minor corrections, any changes or errors on Wills will usually need to be addressed by preparing a new document.  This could be by either using a codicil (a supporting document to the original Will which acts as an update) or a new Will (which will replace the old Will).

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