2010 - 2017
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.
This is the most important thing of all. Unless you adhere strictly to the procedure required by law your will is invalid.
This is the area where a lot of home-made wills come to grief.
The Wills Act 1837 as amended requires the following: Two witnesses must be in the room when you sign the will. They must see you sign the will and they must then sign the will in your presence and in the presence of each other.
All three of you must remain in the room throughout the entire procedure. The will must be signed with your usual signature. A testator who cannot write may make a mark such as a cross on the paper but the fact that it was signed by a mark must be stated in the attestation clause.
If it is a lengthy will it is advisable to sign the bottom of each page so as to show that nothing has been added after you signed it. If you spot any errors when you come to sign the will, initial them and get the witnesses to do the same. Do not change anything after the will has been executed.
The will should also be dated so as to avoid any arguments later.
The witnesses should print their names after their signatures and add their names, addresses and occupations. It is not necessary for the witnesses to read the will but they must be told that they are witnessing your will in case they are later required to give evidence. This point is most important.
There is no point having two witnesses if you do not make it plain to them that you are signing your will.
The importance of this last point was clearly demonstrated in the recent case of In Re the Estate of Richard Sherrington. In that case Mr Sherrington's stepdaughter, who had no legal training or qualifications, prepared a will for him. See Writing a will - Retirement - Which Money - http://www.which.co.uk/money/retirement/guides/writing-a-will/
He signed the will in his office on an evening when he was in a hurry to catch a plane. He asked two people to witness his signature and they duly signed their names as he directed. When he died his children disputed that the will, which left everything to his second wife with whom he was apparently not on very good terms, was correctly executed. On the face of it, the will had been executed correctly.
However, the evidence revealed that one witness did not realise that 'anything important had taken place' on that evening and the other witness spoke very little English. Both gave evidence to the effect that they had not seen the deceased sign the will and when they signed had no intention of verifying or attesting the deceased's signature. The will was declared invalid as a result of the failure to observe the correct procedure for executing it.