The circumstances surrounding this matter seem to be that a couple’s [unofficially] adopted son, Terry, has not received his £70,000 inheritance due to parents, Alfred and Maureen, incorrectly signing their Wills. They each signed A Will but unfortunately, they signed each other’s in error and this wasn’t discovered until after their deaths. This made both Wills invalid and meant the money went to the natural children after all.
I do not propose to comment here on the inheritance of Terry Marley or his siblings, [you may read the full press article for yourself], this post is merely to show how easy it is to invalidate a Will due to incorrect procedures.
For a Will to be valid, it is essential that it is signed and witnessed correctly:
In order for a will to be valid, it must be:
made by a person who is 18 years old or over; and
made voluntarily and without pressure from any other person; and
made by a person who is of sound mind. This means the person must be fully aware of the nature of the document being written or signed and aware of the property and the identify of the people who may inherit; and
in writing; and
signed by the person making the will in the presence of two witnesses; and
signed by the two witnesses, in the presence of the person making the will, after it has been signed. A witness or the married partner of a witness cannot benefit from a will. If a witness is a beneficiary (or the married partner or civil partner of a beneficiary), the will is still valid but the beneficiary will not be able to inherit under the will.
Although it will be legally valid even if it is not dated, it is advisable to ensure that the will also includes the date on which it is signed.
As soon as the will is signed and witnessed, it is complete.
If someone makes a will but it is not legally valid, on their death their estate will be shared out under certain rules, not according to the wishes expressed in the will.
How to change a will
You may want to change your will because there has been a change of circumstances. You must not do this by amending the original will after it has been signed and witnessed. Any obvious alterations on the face of the will are assumed to have been made at a later date and so do not form part of the original legally valid will.
The only way you can change a will is by making a codicil to the will or, a new will.
A codicil is a supplement to a will which makes some alterations but leaves the rest of it intact. This might be done, for example, to increase a cash legacy, change an executor or guardian named in a will, or to add beneficiaries.
A codicil must be signed by the person who made the will and be witnessed in the same way. However, the witnesses do not have to be the same as for the original will.
There is no limit on how many codicils can be added to a will, but they are only suitable for very straightforward changes. If a complicated change is involved, it is usually advisable to make a new will.
Making a new will
If you wish to make major changes to a will, it is advisable to make a new one. The new will should begin with a clause stating that it revokes all previous wills and codicils. The old will should be destroyed. Revoking a will means that the will is no longer legally valid.
Challenging a will
A person may want to challenge a will because they believe that the will is invalid; or they believe that they have not been adequately provided for in the will.
There are strict time limits for challenging a will and if you want to challenge a will, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
If you do not yet have a will and would like to discuss making one, I would be very happy to help you. It doesn’t matter where in England or Wales you reside, I can provide you with assistance. Feel free to contact me on 07775430016 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Our prices range from £70 for a single basic will. Persons requiring financial or Inheritance Act advice will also require an enhanced will at a greater cost – we can discuss your requirements when you contact us.