Things that could make your will invalid
Posted on 24th September 2018
When you have taken the time to make your will you’ll want to be sure your your wishes are going to be carried out.
Unfortunately, there are a number of things that can make all or part of your carefully considered will invalid.
If your will is not legally valid your estate will be shared out under the rules of intestacy, which will not necessarily be as you would wish.
Your ability to make a will
Firstly, to make a valid will you must be over 18. You must also be fully aware of what writing and signing a will means. You must know what is included in your estate and the identities of the people you want to inherit under your will. This is called ‘testamentary capacity’
Your will can be challenged in court if there is a suspicion that it wasn’t made voluntarily or that you didn’t have the required capacity to make your will.
Your will must be:
• in writing
• signed by you in the presence of two people (witnesses) who are over 18
• signed by your two witnesses in your presence after you have signed.
If you would like someone to be a beneficiary of your will it’s important that you don’t ask them to be a witness. Your witnesses and their husbands, wives or civil partners can’t benefit from your will.
Although it isn’t a requirement, it’s a good idea to include the date on which your will was signed.
If someone is financially dependent on you, they might be able to challenge your will on the basis that they have not been provided for. This includes anyone you have a legal obligation to support.
This could include your surviving spouse or people you live with, your children or someone who has been treated as a close family member, such as a disabled friend.
Errors in preparing your will can cause problems. A clause might be incorrectly written, or the wrong version of your will could be signed in error. In these cases, the court will have to decide whether the affected clauses or the whole are invalid.
Other things that can affect your will
Your will is effectively cancelled or ‘revoked’ if you get married, unless it includes a specific clause concerning your expected marriage.
When you make a new will, any older wills are revoked (this is why it’s a good idea to date your will). If you make a new will, ideally all older versions should be destroyed.
You can make a written declaration that you intend to revoke your will, even if you don’t make a new one.
If your will is lost, your executor will have to apply to court to prove that there was a valid will so that a Grant of Probate can be awarded.
To have peace of mind that your wishes will be followed take professional advice when preparing your will.
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