Legally Binding Will
Your will is the best place to set out what you want to happen to you, your loved ones and your money when you die.
How to make a will ‘legally binding’
Your will is the best place to set out what you want to happen to you, your loved ones, and your money when you die. Here we explain exactly how to make sure your wishes are legally binding.
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Most people think they have to spend hundreds of Pounds going to see a solicitor or law firm to get a legally drafted will – and they often think that it will take days or sometimes even weeks to get it completed.
Is that all there is to a legally binding Will?
Whether you write your will online or with a local solicitor or a large law firm, you need to print and sign it in front of two witnesses to make it legal – and you need to make sure they both witnesses sign it too. One of the most important rules here is that the witnesses can’t be beneficiaries of your will, or married to beneficiaries, otherwise they won’t get any gifts you intended to leave them.
Let me give you an example. Imagine you want to leave your car as a gift to your daughter. In your will, you could write: “I give my Mercedes C200 to my daughter”. But then two years later you sell the car and replace it with a Vauxhall Astra and this is the car you owned at the date of your death; your wishes could be contested. To avoid confusion in this scenario, you could amend your will to say: “I give my car at the date of my death to my daughter” – that way, your car would still be passed down to your daughter, no matter how many times you change it in the future.
How can I stop my will being contested?
The best way to prevent your will from being contested is to get it checked by a wills expert – which is exactly what happens when you write your will with Probate Specialist Limited. By reading through everything word for word and double checking it, we can make sure that you haven’t left anything open to interpretation or made any minor mistakes that could cause problems later. If we spot something that can be improved or clarified, we’ll let you know right away.
We always provide you a draft of your proposed will for your inspection, prior to going to print on your will. This way we are sure you have will that is totally customised and suits your wishes. We will gladly store your Will free of charge in a safe and secure document storage facility, this will include the storage of you Last Will & Testament(s) and associated paperwork. The storage facilities are fire proof, water proof and have the latest in security measures, this ensures that your original documents are kept in pristine condition until such a time as that they are required. All you have to do is make sure that people know that we have your Will. It is essential that your Will is kept in an immaculate condition when submitted to the Probate Registry in order to prevent any delays or rejection of a will which can be caused by the Probate Court believing that the will has been tampered with. * Please note that a Will that has been taken apart even for photocopying can be rejected by the Probate Court. Your Will in our care will remain in pristine condition. We often also store a Will at the Probate Registry and hold certificates for the Will release.
What Are The Main Invalidity Issues?
We strongly suggest, that your ‘Will’ writer also practices Probate. We have seen ‘Will’s written by solicitors because of simple mistakes made by the solicitor who drafted the ‘Will’ making the ‘Will’ invalid when it gets to the Probate Registry.
We also are aware of ‘Will’s that have been lost by law firms, typically when they move offices, or they have had staff changes.
We always prefer to store ‘Will’s at the Probate Registry. Yes, there is a fee to store it and a fee to extract it. But it doesn’t get lost.
Not having the master ‘Will’ means that the ‘Will’ is invalid. A photocopy, scanned copy, or a certified copy are not a master ‘Will’ and therefore are invalid.
Beyond the above, a ‘Will’ has to have the name of the Testator (The person whose ‘Will’) it is, and it must be signed and witnessed in front of two independent ‘Witnesses’ who are not beneficiaries or spouses of beneficiaries.
To prove that the ‘Witnesses’ watched the testator sign the ‘Will’ the statement needs to be appropriate and preferably dated on the same date as the ‘Will’ is dated. Sometimes the statement can be written in a way that the ‘Witness’ statement does not need a date, but be careful.
Any ‘Will’ where the Witnesses cannot prove, that they have, witnessed watching the testator, will be rejected by the Probate Registry unless a Witness swears an affidavit that they did, witness the Will.
Two recent cases
After completing a ‘Will’ review for the executors in case A, we believed the ‘Will’ was invalid. However, the ‘Will’ drafter was a solicitor. We submitted it to the Probate Registry, it was found to be invalid because the Solicitor who drafted the ‘Will’ forgot to date the Witness Statement. Upon contacting the Solicitors office, the actual drafting Solicitor had left the company and no longer practices. There are no forwarding contact details so even after numerous searches is untraceable.
In relation to the second ‘Witness’ a secretary of the same solicitors, who also left the business, we managed to track her down to another law firm, however, she recalled the testator’s name but could not provide the date that she witnessed the ‘Will’ was written and therefore was not prepared to swear an affidavit. We note this Solicitors office does not complete Probate and therefore lacks the experience of knowing exactly what the Probate Registry looks for in a ‘Will’. One of the beneficiaries, will not benefit from the estate, under the rules of intestacy.
Homemade ‘Will’, an executor came to us to complete Probate, the ‘Will’ was invalid, due to the fact that the testators, witnesses provided two different dates. Therefore, the Witnesses cannot be proved that they witnessed the ‘Will’ been completed on the same day, that the testator signed the ‘Will’ and therefore the ‘Will’ is invalid.
Three beneficiaries lose out on the wishes of the deceased. The person who is liable for the mistake is the deceased and, the people who now benefit from the estate are her estranged relatives who the testator did not want to receive her estate.
Probate Specialist Limited, 5th Floor, 167-169 Great Portland Street, Marylebone London, W1W 5PF
Probate Specialist Limited 126, High Street , Marlborough SN8 1LZ
Probate Specialist Limited, The Office, 21 Ferozeshah Road, Devizes, Wiltshire SN10 2JQ
Company Number: 13015149
ICO Reg Number ZA807624
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