uk probate solicitors

What is a Valid Will? - Probate Solicitors UK

HELPLINE 0845 409 2425

The requirements for a valid will are as follows :-

  • The person making a valid will must be aged over 18 years (some exceptions).
  • A valid will must be in writing and contain the correct attestation clause.
  • The testator must have full mental capacity and understand the content, meaning and effect of the will.
  • The testator must sign the document of their own free will and signature must occur without duress .
  • The will must be signed by the testator and witnessed by two people (they must not be beneficiaries or they will lose any inheritance) who should all be present together at the same time. The deceased may have signed the will previously but must acknowledge the signature prior to the witnesses signing.
  • Alterations made after signature are invalid unless the alterations have also been properly executed and witnessed.
  • Marriage revokes a previous will automatically. A testator can revoke a will by deliberately destroying it . Accidental damage or destruction is not a revocation and the terms of the accidentally damaged or destroyed will are still valid.

Undue Influence

Probably the most worrying aspect of wills and probate matters relates to the situation when an elderly, infirm parent who is not in full possession of all of their faculties and may be suffering from dementia is persuaded to sign a will which they would never have considered in earlier times whereby one relative is selected to benefit at the expense of the others. The most unfortunate thing about this dishonest practice is that the fraud is often not discovered until after the only real witness is dead. This situation does occur occasionally with employed carers however by far the most common practice is when one sibling cheats the other siblings out of their inheritance. The most likely scenario is when the brothers and sisters decide who will be their mothers main carer which may well be down to who is full time employed and who is not, who is working abroad or who has time on their hands. After caring for a deteriorating parent for a few years, the carer believes that that they have an entitlement which fosters a desire to inherit everything at the expense of the others. This is not an uncommon situation and it usually succeeds because the trusting parent will sign anything that their child tells them to sign, in the mistaken belief that it is in their best interests to do so. The only real defense to this situation is for the other siblings who may have been beneficiaries under a previous will, to take legal action to contest the will on the basis that there was undue influence verified by a specialists review of the medical records and by producing expert witnesses to attest to the deceased parents mental capacity at the time that the will was executed.

HELPLINE 0845 409 2425