What are the legal requirements of a Will?

Written by Terry Johansson | 27th September 2013

A Will must usually satisfy the following requirements in order to be considered valid:

  1. The Will writer, or “testator”, must be aged over 18;
  2. The testator must have made the Will voluntarily and without pressure from another person;
  3. The testator must have been of sound mind. This means that the testator must have been completely aware of the nature of the document being signed and was aware of the contents of the document;
  4. The Will must be in writing;
  5. The testator must sign or acknowledge his / her signature in the presence of two (2) or more witnesses present at the same time;
  6. Each witness must attest and sign the Will, or acknowledge their signature, in the testator’s presence but not necessarily in the presence of the other witness.

A witness, or the spouse or civil partner of a witness, cannot also be a beneficiary of a Will. If a beneficiary, or the spouse / civil partner of a beneficiary, witnesses the testator’s signature, then although the Will remains valid, the beneficiary will not be entitled to receive their inheritance from the Will.

Once executed and witnessed, a Will is a legal document. It is not a requirement for a Will to be dated, however it is advisable that a Will includes the date on which it was signed.

A Will could be considered invalid by a court if it does not meet the legal requirements. This means that the testator may be considered to have died intestate, and his / her Estate will be divided in accordance with the Intestacy Rules rather than the terms of the Will.

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