Formalities For A Will - Age Requirement

By Stan Taylor Written on:

Want to make a start on your will?

Making a will is simple

Making a Will is not about wealth it is about making sure that what you want to happen to your estate does happen. It gives you the opportunity to specify such things as who will administer your estate, who will care for your children and who will receive specific items of your property.

In order to make a valid will a testator must have attained his majority.

Since the coming into force of The Family Law Reform Act 1987 this is 18. The Act came into force on 1st January 1988. For wills made prior to that date, the testator had to be 21.

As previously noted, there is one exception to this rule. Under the Wills (Soldiers and Sailors) Act 1918 as amended by s. 3(1) of the Family Law Reform Act 1969, members of the armed forces in actual military service may make a will although below the age of majority.

Note that the date of execution of the will is the operative date for this rule.

Requirement for due execution

The most important thing is that the will must be executed correctly in accordance with the Wills Act 1837 as amended. This is the area where the law is most strict. Unless the will is executed properly, it is invalid and there is nothing that can be done to revive it after your death.

Invalid execution is one of the most common problems with home-made wills.

The requirements for the procedure for execution are set out later in this. website after we have looked at what you should put in the will.

In the meantime, the following should be noted.

The will must be signed. Prior to 1st January 1983 the signature had to appear 'at the foot or end of the will'.

This is no longer strictly necessary.

Today the requirement is that it be apparent the 'testator intended by his signature to give effect to the will'.

There are numerous cases concerning the place of signature and I will not recite the various decisions here. It will be obvious that the only safe course of action in practice is to sign the will at the end, leaving no additional words below it other than the signatures and details of the witnesses.

The will may consist of just a few lines of text or it may take up more than one sheet of paper. At one time it was a legal requirement that a will comprising several sheets must be fastened in some way so as to keep the sheets together.

Over the years this rule was gradually relaxed so as to provide that holding the sheets together in the hand was sufficient.

Today it would generally be accepted that if several sheets of paper concerning the disposal of property are found together they constitute the will of the deceased. To be on the safe side, it is best to staple the sheets together before signing the will.

Here a note may be added concerning the availability of numerous types of binders. Most stationery shops today will stock any number of different folders and binders for presenting documents.

In the past, solicitors traditionally stitched wills together and sealed the ends of the ribbon.

This remains the custom in a lot of firms today. In others binders are used. The declared preference of the Probate Registry is for wills that are not contained within plastic binders.

The reason is that the original wills have to be retained by the Probate Registry and the use of bulky binders increases the space used. A staple or a paper corner will thus suffice for a home-made will. Practicality not prettiness is the rule.

It should be absolutely clear on the face of the document that it is your will.

You don't want to run the risk of your relatives throwing it out as yet another piece of paper you had hoarded. A cover sheet clearly marked 'my last will' is therefore a good idea.

If your will is in several sheets it is not necessary for you to sign every page.

However, you may wish to do so to indicate that nothing has been added at the foot of a page after execution of the will. This will not invalidate the will but on the final page your signature should appear only once, below the last of the writing.

Find out more about - Formalities For A Will - Date Of Will or Formalities For A Will - Revoking A Will

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see: Making a will - The Law Society. Please note that will making differs in Scotland and this website currently deals with English laFree Will download


Perhaps you might consider taking legal advice from a solicitor about making a will if any of the following apply to your circumstances:


  1. A number of people could make a claim on your estate when you pass away because they depend on yourself financially
  2. You want to include a trust in your will (perhaps to provide for children, to save tax, or simply protect your assets in some way after you become deceased)
  3. Your physical and permanent home is not in the UK and / or you are not a British citizen
  4. You live here in the UK but you have additional property abroad
  5. You own all or part of a UK business.

see: Making a will - The Law Society. Please note that will making differs in Scotland and this website currently deals with English law.

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