Who Can Witness a Will?

For your Will to be legally valid, you’ll need to sign it in front of two people – known as witnesses. There are strict rules around who can carry out this role, so it’s important to be careful about who you choose when making a Will.

Who can witness a Will signing?

The rules surrounding who can witness your Will signing might be strict, but they’re not particularly complicated. The main requirements are that you pick two people who are over 18 with mental capacity.

Some commonly chosen witnesses include:

  • Colleagues
  • Family friends
  • Neighbours

Although you can ask relatives to witness your Will, it’s not usually recommended. Instead, we would suggest choosing someone who does not have a personal interest in your Will. This could help to reduce the risk of family disagreements later on.

You can also use a professional as a Will witness – such as a solicitor, GP or accountant.

Why are witnesses to a Will needed?

You’re required by law to have the signing of your Will witnessed and signed by two other people. This is mainly so they can confirm that:

  • You wrote the Will that is being signed
  • You haven’t been forced into signing the Will in question
  • You have the mental capacity to understand what you’re signing

If your Will ends up being disputed, your choice of witnesses could be a deciding factor in whether the challenge is held up in court. This is why it’s so important that you appoint reliable witnesses who can vouch for the validity of your Will if it is ever questioned.

Can an executor witness a Will?

The role of an executor can sometimes cause confusion. You might assume that because they are responsible for carrying out the necessary duties following your death, they can’t witness your Will.

But this will only apply if your executor is also listed as a beneficiary. If they are not, you will be free to select them as a legally recognised witness to your Will signing.

We would suggest letting your executor know where you plan to store your Will after it’s signed, so that they know where to look for it when the time comes to carry out your wishes.

Who cannot witness a Will?

There are certain people who won’t be able to witness your Will, including:

  • Anyone named as a beneficiary in the Will
  • Anyone who lacks the mental capacity to fully understand what they’re witnessing
  • The spouse or civil partner of a named beneficiary

As your witnesses will need to be able to see you signing your Will, you should also avoid appointing anyone who is blind or partially sighted.

Try to consider the age and general health of the individuals you choose as witnesses, too. While it’s not nice to think about, these people may need to be called upon after your death. So it is best to select witnesses who you think will survive you.

What happens if a witness to a Will dies?

If a witness to your Will dies before you, the document will remain valid. But it could lead to some complications arising.

For instance, when your chosen executor applies for probate, they might be asked to provide proof of two witnesses having signed the Will in question. If one or both of these witnesses have passed away, this process can be more difficult.

To avoid this situation, you might decide to write a new Will after one of your witnesses passes away. Or, you could ask your surviving witness to sign an affidavit that confirms both witnesses were present for the signing of your Will.

An experienced Wills, estates and probate solicitor can advise you on which option will be best for you.

If you’re thinking about making a Will for the first time, updating an existing one or drafting a new Will after a significant life change, we could help you. To find out more about our services, give us a call on the number at the top of the screen or start your enquiry online.

Note: First4Lawyers offers this information as guidance, not advice. Before taking any action, you should seek professional assistance tailored to your personal circumstances.


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