Witnessing a will being signed

Who can witness and sign a will?

After writing a will using our online will writing service, it needs to be printed and signed alongside two witnesses. Here, we'll cover who can witness a will and why they're so important.

Contents
  1. Why does a will need to be witnessed?
  2. What is testamentary capacity?
  3. Who can witness a will?
  4. Why you might need a medical practitioner to witness your will
  5. What do witnesses need to do?

At Farewill, we make it our mission to help you make a will in the quickest, simplest and most affordable way possible. But unless you take the time to sign your will alongside a couple of witnesses, all of that is worth nothing.

Here, we'll cover the importance of having your will witnessed and signed, and we'll also help you choose the best people to witness your will.

Why does a will need to be witnessed?

After writing a will, you need to sign it alongside two witnesses to make it legally binding. First, you should sign your will with both witnesses watching, then each witness should add their signature alongside details like their name, address and occupation. This is so that, if your will is contested in the future, your witnesses can testify that they watched you sign your will.

Another reason your will needs to be witnessed is to demonstrate testamentary capacity…

What is testamentary capacity?

Testamentary capacity is the legal term used to describe a person's legal and mental ability to make or alter a will. In general, if someone can do all four of the following things, the law determines that they have testamentary capacity:

  • Understand the extent and value of their property
  • Understand they're making a will and deciding who will inherit their property
  • Understand who the people are that are closest to them (the people that might expect to be left something in the will)
  • Not be suffering from a delusion which makes them act differently from normal

If you think any of these points could be in doubt, we recommend that you ask a medical practitioner to act as one of your witnesses. This can help to prove that you have capacity to sign your will. There are a few other reasons why you may need a medical practitioner to witness your will, which will be covered later in this article.

Who can witness a will?

Your will can be witnessed and signed by anyone over the age of 18, but there a couple of rules that need to be followed:

  • Your witnesses can't be beneficiaries of your will. This means that, if you've chosen to leave your estate to your partner and children, they can't witness your will.
  • Your witnesses can't be the spouse of one of your beneficiaries. This means that, if you've chosen to leave part of your estate to your daughter, your daughter's husband can't witness your will.
  • Your witnesses can’t be blind as it’s important that they see you sign your will.

Why you might need a medical practitioner to witness your will

The law in England and Wales recommends that anyone who is elderly or seriously ill should ask a medical practitioner, such as a GP, to act as a witness to their will. This is particularly important if you are mentally ill or have a terminal illness, as you need to be able to demonstrate testamentary capacity when writing a will.

If you feel like this might apply to you, you could ask your GP or specialist to witness your will. But remember, you'll still need a second person to witness your will, and they both need to watch you sign it at the same time.

What do witnesses need to do?

After writing a will, printing it out at home and binding the pages together, there are a couple of steps you and your witnesses need to take to make it legally valid:

  1. Your chosen witnesses need to be together with you when you sign your will. This is so that, if your will is contested after you die, they can testify that they watched you sign your will.
  2. Your witnesses need to add their details to your will alongside their signature. This is so they can easily be contacted if your will is contested in the future.

If you're writing a will using our online will writing service, you'll find clear guidance on what to do next after downloading and printing your will. But if you have any questions, please call us on 020 8050 2686.

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