Executing a will

If a will is correctly executed, it has formal validity (that is, it is recognised as a valid testamentary document). The standard formalities of executing a will under s.9 Wills Act 1837 are:

  • the will must be in writing and the testator must sign it, or another person must sign it in his presence and at his direction;
  • it must appear that the testator intended by his signature to give effect to the will;
  • the signature must be either made or acknowledged in the presence of at least two witnesses present at the same time; &
  • each witness must sign the will, or acknowledge his signature, in the presence of the testator (but not necessarily in the presence of any other witness).

Despite popular belief there is no legal requirement for the date of execution to be on the face of the will. However, it should be included to avoid uncertainty. Such uncertainty could prove costly to the estate if for example the deceased had made two wills.

Can a beneficiary witness my will?

No. If a beneficiary witnesses your will then he/she cannot receive any benefit left to him/her under the terms of the will. Furthermore, if a beneficiary’s spouse or civil partner witnesses the will, the beneficiary again cannot receive any benefit.

For anything further, one of our specialists would be delighted to meet you either in our office or in your own home to talk through your requirements and answer any questions. Please contact us at any time.