In order to make sure that you are able to use a will to protect your loved ones once you’ve passed away, this week Prestige Tax and Trust Services explains who can be a witness to a will.
You Need a Will to Protect Your Loved Ones
If you want to make sure that your assets and possessions are secured in the possession of your loved ones once you pass away, you need to make sure that you make a will.
This is because a will is a legal document that allows a person to outline decisions on how they want their estate to be managed and distributed upon their death. Without this document, your wishes are unclear, meaning that your assets may not come into the possession of those you wish to benefit from them.
Why Do You Need Witnesses to the Signing of a Will?
As we illustrated when explaining how to make a will in England, once a will is drawn up, it must be signed to ensure its validity. However as an extra failsafe, the law requires a will to be signed in front of two witnesses.
Specifically, according to the Wills Act 1837, there must be two people present, who have seen the act of signature and provided their details to prove that they have acted as witnesses to its signing.
By doing this, they are not committing themselves to anything other than ensuring the will is signed according to the Wills Act. Only with the witness’ signature, can a will then be declared valid by the Probate Court.
Any Witnesses to the Signing of a Will Must Fulfil the Following Criteria
Therefore, in order to make sure a will is legally valid, you need to know who can be a witness to a will. Theoretically almost anybody can be, however they must meet the following criteria.
- Over 18: According to UK law, only an adult can act as a witness to the signing of a will.
- Potential Beneficiaries of the Will: Due to the need for impartiality in witnessing a will, UK law demands that a witness is not a potential beneficiary of the will, so that all parties can be sure it has been witnessed without any desire for personal gain.
- Spouse of Potential Beneficiary: As above, the potential for a spouse of a possible beneficiary to act with bias, disqualifies them as acting as a witness to the signing of a will.
- A Member of Your Family: Again, the idea that a will needs to be witnessed by an impartial party means no member of your family can fulfil the role.
Prestige Tax and Trust Service, Will Experts
Once you have chosen your witnesses, and learned about how to make a will, Prestige Tax and Trust Services is here to help. We have a team of legal experts here at Prestige Tax and Trust Services, ready to use their expertise to ensure that you can use a will to protect your loved ones once you pass away.