A valid Will is essential for any employee to ensure that they have a say in what happens to their money, property and possessions should the unexpected occur. Without a valid Will, the law that decides who gets your employee’s assets. By providing information to your employees on how they can protect their loved ones with a Will, you can give them the reassurance and protection they need (GOV.UK).
For your employee’s Will to be legally valid, they must:
• be 18 or over
• make it voluntarily
• be of sound mind
• make it in writing
• sign it in the presence of 2 witnesses who are both over 18
• have it signed by your 2 witnesses, in their presence
If employees make any changes to their Will, they must follow the same signing and witnessing process as cited above. It is worth noting that witnesses (or their married partners) cannot be left anything in the Will they are witnessing for (GOV.UK).
Here at Redstone Wills, it’s our mission to ensure that every person has a legal Will in place to protect their loved ones; that’s why we’ve put together a quick guide to help your employees know if their Will is valid.
Circumstances Where Wills Become Invalid
Key Information for Employees:
It is essential to ensure that you know where your Will is kept. If your Will cannot be located, then your wishes cannot be followed and the law will decide who receives your possessions. It may be worth exploring Will Storage services so your family can locate your Will once you pass away.
If your Will has not been correctly signed then this will make it invalid. Section 9 Wills Act 1837 details the exact way in which your Will must be signed in order for it to be valid. This includes:
- Your Will being written and signed by the testator, or by some other person in his presence and by direction.
- The appearance that the testator intended by his signature to give effect to the Will.
- That the signature is made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time.
- Each witness should either – Attest and sign the Will or acknowledge their signature in the presence of the testator (but not necessarily in the presence of any other witness)
It is also important to consider if any of the following circumstances apply to you and how to ensure that your Will can still be signed in a valid way:
- If you are unable to read, the signature page should state that your Will has been read to you.
- If you are unable to sign the Will yourself, you may ask someone else to sign on your behalf and the signature page will need to state that someone else has signed for you.
- If you can sign the Will, but you have trouble signing clearly, the signature page can be amended to state that you are making a mark and that you intend for that mark to be your signature.
It is therefore vital to ensure that your Will is signed correctly and if have any questions or doubts, it is always helpful to seek professional help.
Incorrect Handwritten Corrections & Changes
Any changes made to your Will after the date of signing may cause your Will to become invalid. It is advised that if you need to make any changes to your Will, you should talk directly to your Will writer, who will be able to advise and help you with this. Handwritten adjustments will only be valid if signed directly next to, by your testor and two witnesses, on the same date as the Will is written.
Probate registry may question a damaged or partial Will. There is always the chance that this may have been done deliberately and therefore may delay proceedings for your loved ones. If you need your Will to be taken care of, it is best to seek out professional Will Storage.
Staples or marks
It is important to consider that any staples or marks made on your Will may suggest a newer or older Will was attached to the current document. The latest version of your Will invalidates any previous copies, and therefore, making sure your current document reflects your wishes is essential. If it is deemed there may be a missing copy of a Will due to marks or staple marks, this may delay proceedings.
Changes of Circumstance
Your life circumstances change, and its advised that you review your Will every 2-5 years as this helps to make sure your current wishes are reflected in your Will. Circumstances where it is advised you make changes to your Will include:
- getting separated or divorced
- getting married (this cancels any Will you made before)
- having a child
- moving house
- if the executor named in the Will dies
It is also advised to remember that, as and when you update your Will, previous copies of it will become void and these cannot be referred to once the new Will takes effect.
It is advised that as your Will is one of the most important documents you will ever make, and it is vital that your wishes are carried out as intended. Therefore, unless you can be certain your DIY Will is valid, it is a good idea to speak to a professional to ensure that it is valid. To find out how to make your DIY Will valid, we have outlined this in our Are DIY Wills Legal? article for further information.
Wills Advice and Services For Employees