Executing a will

Once you've made your Will, you need to follow some rules about how to sign and formalise it. You have to stick to these rules, otherwise your Will won't be valid. So let Rocket Lawyer walk you through how to execute your Will so that you can make sure everything is safe and legal.

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There are certain formal procedures that you have to follow to make your Will legally valid. If your Will is invalid, your estate may not pass as you intend. The execution of your will involves three people: you and two witnesses. You must all be present throughout the process.

Witnesses

Witnesses must meet all the criteria below:

  • they must be over 18;
  • they cannot be an executor or beneficiary of your will;
  • they cannot be related to you or to anyone mentioned in your will either by blood, marriage or civil partnership.

Preferably your witnesses should be your age or younger to make it more likely that they will be alive at your death, in case they are required to give evidence about the signing of your will. Your witnesses may be related to each other. Before signing your will, you should read it through carefully again. It is not necessary for your witnesses to read your will, although they should be made aware that it is your will they are witnessing.

Signing procedure

In the presence of your two witnesses and in the spaces provided, you should:

  1. date the document (eg 'the 6th day of June 2012');
  2. sign your name using your 'usual' signature where indicated whilst your witnesses watch;
  3. ask your two witnesses to add, in your presence, their 'usual' signatures where indicated, asking them to print their names, addresses and occupations clearly for identification purposes.

No alterations should be made after your Last will and testament is signed.

Reviewing your will

It is important that you review your will and amend it to reflect any substantial or many changes in your life. You should review your will if:

  • someone named in your will dies;
  • you have children or grandchildren;
  • you get married (as marriage revokes a will in England and Wales); or
  • you get divorced.

This list is not exhaustive and any minor or substantial change should be accounted for. For further information read Reasons to make a will. If you make substantial changes your will you may need to execute it again as a new document.

Many other changes can happen, such as a change of address, marriage or divorce or a change in financial circumstances. It may not be necessary to alter an original will or execute a new one. You can make small changes to your will by using a codicil.

What is a codicil?

A codicil is a document that needs to be signed and executed in the same way as a will. However it allows for changes or amendments to take effect instead of completely creating a new will or re-writing the original one. A codicil could be used to change who the executors are in the will, change the beneficiaries or even remove a beneficiary, take into account a change of address or a change in name. You can use the same witnesses as in your original will but is not compulsory. You shouldn't use someone as a witness if they or their spouse/civil partner benefits from the assets in the codicil as this will make the the assets in the codicil invalid.

The advantage of using a codicil is that it's cheaper than writing or creating a new will. A codicil doesn't replace an existing will and is only valid when it refers to the will that it's amending. However if you're considering making multiple or substantial changes, it might be better to write a new will. Ask a lawyer if you need help changing or amending your Last will and testament.

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Create your Will

Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest