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Who Can Witness My Will?

Who Can Witness My Will?

By In Blog, Wills On 06/07/2022


Anyone over the age of 18 who is of sound mind can witness your Will. However, you cannot choose anyone who stands to benefit under your Will. This includes your beneficiaries and their married/civil partners. Otherwise, that portion of the Will becomes void after your death.

Who can witness my Will?

When you make a Will in England or Wales, you must sign it in the presence of two witnesses. The two witnesses must then sign the document in front of you. This is the last step to making a legally valid Will.

However, there are strict rules around who can, and who cannot, witness your Will. Your witnesses can be anyone who is:

  • Aged 18 or over
  • Of sound mind
  • Able to watch you sign your Will
  • Completely independent, meaning they do not stand to benefit from your estate, either directly or indirectly

The last point is an important one, and is something that many people overlook. Your witnesses cannot be anyone who stands to inherit from your estate. So, you cannot ask any of your beneficiaries to witness your Will. Nor can you ask any of their spouses or civil partners. In fact, it may be best to avoid your relatives altogether, just in case they become a residuary beneficiary.

Instead, you should choose an adult of sound mind who does not have a remote chance of gaining from your Will. This could be a:

  • Friend
  • Work colleague
  • Neighbour
  • Solicitor
  • Doctor

Your witnesses do not need to read your Will before signing it, so the contents will remain confidential.

Who cannot witness your Will?

Your witnesses cannot be:

  • Someone you’ve named in your Will as a beneficiary
  • Married to, or in a civil partnership with, a beneficiary named in your Will
  • Under the age of 18
  • Blind

What happens if my beneficiary witnesses my Will?

If one of your beneficiaries witnesses your Will (or their married partner does), then that portion of the Will fails after your death. For example, imagine you leave 50% of your estate to your niece and 50% of your estate to your nephew. You then ask your niece to witness the Will. After your death, your niece’s gift becomes void, on account of the fact that she was a witness. That portion of the estate may then be distributed in a way that you did not want.

Can I ask an executor to witness my Will?

Yes, you can ask an executor to witness your Will, so long as that executor does not stand to benefit under your Will.

Can I ask a beneficiary to witness my Will?

No, you cannot ask a beneficiary to witness your Will. Otherwise, that portion of your Will becomes void.

Can I ask a stranger to witness my Will?

In theory, you could ask a stranger to witness your Will. However, you need to bear in mind that your witnesses could be asked to give evidence, should your Will be contested after your death. Your witnesses will be asked to confirm that you had mental capacity when signing the Will, and that you were acting of your own volition. Given this, a stranger may not be best placed to witness your Will.

Check your Will

If you have already made a Will, you should review the document to check that you haven’t used a beneficiary as a witness. If you have, please contact our solicitors urgently to discuss how to solve the issue.

Call our Sunderland solicitors on 0191 567 7244 and we’ll be happy to help you. If you would rather contact us online, email us at info@cooklaw.co.uk and one of our team will be in contact with you shortly.


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