Welcome to our blog! We hope you enjoy are legal updates from our Principal Solicitor Kevin Brophy and our Solicitor Laura Gillen. We welcome your comments and questions!
Making a Valid Will
Everybody knows they should make a will but it rarely seems to be top of anyone’s list of priorities. Sometimes this is because people believe that it involves a trip to a solicitor but really this should not be necessary. Making a will is very simple but it is also an absolutely critical document and while there is absolutely no reason why a person could not make a will at home, it would always be best to have it looked at by a solicitor. However quite often people decide to make a will before they are going on holiday and they don’t have time to see a solicitor and what I would like to do now is to set out some basic rules in order to make a valid will.
· The will must be in writing. It does not have to be in a particular form or even on paper. One famous will was written on an egg. A friend of mine wrote his will on the back of a used cheque.
· You must be over 18 – having said that if you are under 18 but if you have been married or if, incredibly, you have been married and divorced or separated, you can make a will.
· You must be of sound mind – this can be extremely controversial because many people make wills or change their wills when they are unwell and if you are helping an elderly relative to make a will and if you have any doubts whatsoever concerning his/her ability to understand what she/he is doing then you should ensure that a doctor is present while the will is being signed.
· The will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses both of whom must sign in your presence. There are certain exceptions to this rule but you can take it that this covers 99% of wills. Neither witness can gain from the will (neither can their spouses or their civil partners).
· While the witnesses must see you sign the will, they do not have to see what is written in it.
· Your signature (or mark) must be at the end of the will.
These are the legal requirements and if any of them are not met, you run the risk of the will being invalid and in these circumstances the effect is that you would be presume to died intestate and your assets will then be distributed in accordance with certain legal rules and these legal rules may not meet what you would actually like to happen. So you should make absolutely sure that the will is completed legally and in such a way that it cannot be challenged.
A service we offer is that if a client makes a will but has some doubt about it whether it is valid, they can send it into us and we will confirm to you whether or not the will is valid, free of charge.
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