Witnesses and signatures
There are certain procedures you must follow to make a will valid. Firstly, the testator (the person who is making the will) has to sign it correctly and make sure any previous wills have been cancelled. This is a vital part of the process which is only valid if there are two witnesses present who can ensure that the testator has not been coerced into signing the will and also that the will has not been created without the testator's consent. When considering a witness for your will, it obviously has to be somebody you trust and prove that they are close to you. However, it is important to note that the witness will be excluded from the will and can no longer be a beneficiary. The will is still valid if the witness that is down to be a beneficiary is granted by the testator or via a trust, for example. However if this does not happen, the benefits they would have received simply get added onto the rest of the estate.
It is also important to know that the witnesses have to be 18 years old or over and that they know you. The witnesses also have to be capable of understanding what they are doing and have to be traceable when you die.
What the witness has to do
As a witness there are important facts you need to know. Firstly the witness’s signature must be added after the testator, in his presence. The signatures are made in the presence of one another to make sure they have signed the Will of their own accord, particularly the testator. Two witnesses have to sign the Will at the same time to make the Will valid.
The witnesses’ duties act as a legal safeguard and there are cases when this role is abused. If there is any doubt in their actions or any suspicions that they had improper intentions then a legal challenge against the Will can be made. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the role of the witness is done in a correct and proper manner. If you need to challenge a Will, it is strongly recommended that you seek professional legal advice to do so.
What if the witness dies before you?
Another problem which can occur is that the witness may die before the creator of the Will. In this unfortunate event, the Will is not necessarily made invalid. The Will's executor will be required to prove the witness's death, and also that the existing signatures were valid. To try and prevent an unforeseeable situation such as this, you can add a new witness to the Will in the event of a death of the original witness.
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