Can I write my own Will?
Anyone can write a Will however it must satisfy certain criteria in order for it to be valid. A valid Will must satisfy S9 of the Wills Act 1837.
Requirements for a valid Will:
In order for a Will to be valid, it must be:
- Made by a person who is 18 years or over
- Made voluntarily and without pressure from any other person
- Made by a person who is of sound mind and is fully aware of the nature and effect of the document being written or signed.
- In writing
- Signed by the person making the Will in the presence of two witnesses
- Signed by two witness in the presence of the person making the Will at the same time
Who can be a witness?
The witness must be independent from the person making the Will and cannot be related to them by blood or marriage. The witness must also be over the age of 18 and of sound mind. The witness cannot be a beneficiary of the Will or even a married to a beneficiary.
What happens if a Will is not valid?
If the Will has not been correctly executed, it will make the Will invalid. This means that the deceased will not have a valid Will and their estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy.
How long is a Will valid for?
A Will has no expiry date and will be valid for life (provided it has been correctly drafted and executed). In order to cancel a Will, it must be revoked and can be done by the following methods:
- Marriage – this will revoke a Will and therefore if you marry, you will need to consider reviewing your Will.
- Making a new Will – this will revoke any previous Wills so the current Will is valid. You need to ensure the correct clause has been implemented in your Will so it revokes any other Wills you have made in the past. You also need to ensure you are revoking the correct Will (ie if you have separate Wills in the UK and worldwide).
- Making a Codicil – this will revoke a specific clause in your Will and not the whole document.
- Destruction – you will need to physically destroy your Will (ie by tearing it up, shredding or burning) to revoke your Will. You must also show intention to revoke the Will (ie accidental destruction will not revoke the Will).