Choosing a witness is an essential step for making a valid will. After you have written your Will you will need to sign it along with two witnesses to make it a legally binding document.
Does a Will need to be witnessed, and why?
Absolutely, a Will is a legally binding document without witnesses then the Will is not valid. A Will must not be created under duress and must be completed with “testamentary capacity” this is the legal term used to ensure a person has the mental capacity to make or alter a Will. Testamentary capacity is made up of four factors:
- Understand the nature of making a will and its effects.
- Understand the extent of the property of which he is disposing
- Be able to comprehend and appreciate the claims to which they ought to give effect.
- Have no disorder of the mind that perverts their sense of right or prevents the exercise of their natural faculties in disposing of their property by Will
Who can witness a Will?
A Will can be witnessed by anyone over the age of 18 who is not a beneficiary; if anyone is set to inherit anything, they cannot be a witness.
A few of the options could be
- A Friend – As long as they are not due to benefit from the Will.
- A Neighbour – When you receive a Will at home, a simple way is to have a neighbour witness it for you.
- A relative – You could pick a cousin or an aunt or an extended family member who is not a beneficiary.
When choosing a witness it is best to select someone who can be easily contacted; picking people who live in another country could cause delays when trying to execute your Will. Also, elderly people may not be the best selection as if they have passed away they cannot answer any questions about the Will being signed. Of course, it is possible for anyone (except beneficiaries) to witness the Will, but the practicalities need to be considered.
Also, as obvious as it may seem, another legal requirement is the witness cannot be blind; they must be able to see what they are signing.
Can a stranger witness a Will?
Yes, technically, a stranger over the age of 18 can be your witness, so long as they’re present when you sign. One thing to bear in mind is that this person may be called upon in future when the Will is being executed.
When may it be recommended to have a GP or Doctor sign a Will?
Going back to testamentary capacity, if there is any doubt that the person who has made the Will does not have testamentary capacity such as the elderly or someone who is seriously, terminally or mentally ill then it is recommended by law in England and Wales to have a medical practitioner witness the Will.
The Will still need to be signed by two witnesses, so a second person will also need to be present.
What does a witness need to do?
The physical copy of the Will needs to be signed in the presence of two witnesses at the same time. Firstly the document is signed by the owner of the Will, and then the two witnesses sign.
The witnesses also need to include their full name, address and contact details if the Will is contested in the future.
By signing the Will as a witness, they are verifying that they have watched the owner of the Will sign or acknowledge their signature. A witness does not need to read the entire Will and they do not need to know what is in it.
At Sovereign Planning, when you use our professional Will Writing service, you will receive full guidelines for signing the document and witnesses required to find out more click here
If you are still trying to decide if you need a Will why don’t you read Three reasons why it is important to have a Will