An invalid Will could potentially cause chaos for your loved ones at a time when they really don’t need the additional upset, not only that, it could also mean that any wishes you had upon your death may not be fulfilled. If your Will is determined to be invalid then your estate will need to be passed through the laws of intestacy and will often not be distributed in the best way to provide for your family.
So, what could invalidate your Will? There are many traps that people can fall into that could potentially make their Will invalid. Without employing a professional to help construct your Will, you run the risk of making these mistakes.
There are, however, a few general guidelines to follow to ensure your Will is valid. The first being that the Will once written, must be signed and witnessed by two people. These witnesses must physically see you sign the Will, and you must watch them both sign too. Going further, these witnesses must not be blind, must have mental capacity and must be over the age of 18. This may seem obvious but what some people don’t realise is that nothing can be left to the witnesses or their spouses. If this is the case then there are rules that invalidate the parts of the Will that involve their gifts.
Importantly, you must not be under any undue pressure to make the Will, and this can include being tricked into making one through lies. Sometimes, family members (especially those more vulnerable to emotional manipulation) can be persuaded to leave certain assets to individuals that they wouldn’t have done if they were without this pressure. If this is the case, you should talk to your Will writer, and if needs be they can amend the Will or invalidate the existing one and start again.
You must have testamentary capacity. This means that you should be of a sound mind and understanding when making the Will. If you are not aware of the consequences when creating your Will then it can be rendered invalid.
You can also make a Will invalid by revoking it, and this can happen in several ways. You can simply make a new one which expresses your wishes to have the previous one revoked or make a written declaration of your intention to revoke the Will. You could even physically destroy the Will whilst expressing your wish for it to become revoked and therefore invalid. Also marriage can affect the validity of a Will unless the Will factored this in. It’s likely that you would want to amend your Will anyway after marriage to factor in leaving some of your estate to your spouse and to ensure estate planning is efficient, e.g. through transferrable Resident’s Nil Rate Bands between spouses.
We wholeheartedly recommend seeking the help of a Will writing professional when creating a Will as the consequences of having an invalid Will can be devastating to your heirs, it gives you peace of mind that you are ensuring that you can provide for them in the best way possible.