Formalities For A Will - Requirement For Writing

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.

Writing is essential. The only exception to this is where the testator is a member of the armed forces on actual military service or a mariner at sea (s. 11 Wills Act 1837).

This is not an exception to rely on. It is limited in scope and intended only for use in dire emergency.

A testator may write the will in his own handwriting.

This is referred to as a holograph will. Alternatively, he may type it or print it. He may even dictate it to another person to write down for him. The important thing is that it must be in writing and not, for example, recorded as left as an MP3!

It is advisable to keep the writing in the will continuous. Blank pages have been accepted by the court but are best avoided. The vital thing when making your will is to ensure that you leave no scope for argument after your death.

Gaps in the will may well lead to arguments that something has been left out or removed.

It is important that nothing is attached to the will by a staple, paper-clip or pin. If there are any marks indicating that something may have been attached to the will at some point, the Probate Registry will raise questions.

This is because the existence of such marks suggests that perhaps a codicil or something similar was attached to the will at some stage. To avoid any such questions being raised, make sure there are no indentations, marks or small holes in the paper on which the will is written. For the same reason, avoid the use of one of those pads of paper which comes with holes already punched in it for filing purposes.

Obviously the language of a home-made will is likely to differ from that in a solicitor-drawn will.

Indeed, if you insist on making your own will it is preferable not to include any legal phrases you may have come across. You may be quite confident you know what they mean but you may well be mistaken. It is best to stick to words and phrases in common parlance.

Of course, the use of colloquialisms will not be seen at all in professionally drawn wills but will not render a home-made will invalid. Likewise the use of common abbreviations is acceptable for the testator writing his own document but will never be seen in a solicitor-drawn will.

It goes without saying that the writing must be legible.

If your handwriting leaves a lot to be desired, it is probably best to type the will. For similar reasons it is better to avoid writing in pencil although the law does not specify that ink should be used.

Remember that a will has to last a long time. If you make a will at the age of 30 it may not be proved for another 60 years or so.

Further reading - Formalities For A Will - Requirement For Testamentary Nature or Formalities For A Will - Age Requirement

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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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