When a Will is signed (sometimes phrased in legal terms as ‘executed’), there are a number of formalities that must be followed, otherwise the Will can be invalid
- you and your witnesses must be in the same room for the whole process
- you must not leave anything in your Will to your witnesses or their spouses
- your witnesses cannot be blind
- your witnesses must be 18 or over and must see you sign the Will
- you must use your usual signature
- you must see each witness sign the Will and they must see each other sign it
- the Will ought to be dated with the correct date
- the Will was signed before death
If all these requirements are not followed, the Will may be invalid and this could mean an earlier Will comes into play (if one was written) or the intestacy rules apply (where there is no Will). As a result, the estate (including property, cash, savings and assets) may pass to someone not named in the Will or it may be divided in different proportions, sometimes these are significantly different.
Based in St Albans, Hertfordshire, we have experience in representing people dealing with this type of Will dispute and can help you, if you are worried that the correct formalities were not all followed or if someone else has raised the issue.
As well as making enquiries with the witnesses to the Will and any other relevant people (especially where there are disputes involving trustees and executors), we can pursue other investigations, where claims are made that:
- the Will was made by someone not of sound mind
- the Will was made under pressure
- the Will was made with lack of knowledge and approval
- the Inheritance Act was not followed
In an increasing number of cases, questions over possibly forged signatures arise. Usually this would be the signature of the person that made the Will, but in some cases it is the signature of one or both witnesses that has been forged. Analysis by an experienced expert in questionable documents forensic examination can be vital in these circumstances to ensure you get the result you want.
If you believe that a Will has not been signed, witnessed or drafted correctly, please contact us today for assistance.