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How to make a valid will

For a will to be valid:

  • it must be in writing, signed by you, and witnessed by two people
  • you must have the mental capacity to make the will and understand the effect it will have
  • you must have made the will voluntarily and without pressure from anyone else.

The beginning of the will should say that this will revokes all others. If you have an earlier will, it should be destroyed.

Signing the will

You must sign a will in front of witnesses. It can also be signed on your behalf, as long as you’re in the room and it is signed at your direction. This usually happens if someone is blind, illiterate, incapacitated or too unwell to sign the will by themselves. However, they must have the mental capacity to make the will, otherwise the will is invalid.

Any will signed on your behalf must contain a clause saying you understood the contents of the will before it was signed.

If you are have a serious illness or a diagnosis of dementia, you can still make a will, but you need to have 'testamentary capacity' (mental capacity to make a will) to make sure it is valid. Your solicitor should make sure of this, and you may need a medical practitioner’s statement at the time the will is signed, certifying that you understood what you signed.

Witnessing the will

Your signature to the will must be witnessed by two adults. They must also sign the will in your presence.

The witnesses or their husbands, wives or civil partners can’t benefit from the will. If anything has been left to the witnesses, the rest of the will is still valid, but the witness will lose their entitlement to whatever you had intended to leave them.

An executor can witness the will, unless they are a beneficiary.

Free Wills Month

Free Wills Month offers older people in participating areas the opportunity to have a simple will written free of charge.

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Further information

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For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 678 1174

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