Home made will? Think again!
Posted: 29th May 2018
Will forms that are filled in without legal advice are an invitation for dispute between your loved ones after you are gone. The point was powerfully made by a Court of Appeal case in which two home-made wills, signed by a retired postman, created an open sore that drove his family apart.
In 1998, shortly after marrying his much younger second wife, the man made a will by which he left her the entirety of his estate, which was worth about £600,000. In 2012, a few months before his death, aged 74, he made a second will by which he left legacies of £15,000 each to his wife and a grandchild and the remainder to his oldest son by his first marriage.
Neither will was professionally drafted and a judge found that both of them were invalid and the man had thus died intestate.
The judge was unable to find that the 2012 will had been properly witnessed or that the man knew and approved its contents. The 1998 will, which had been completed on a will form, included the details of two witnesses, but their names had been written in block capitals.
In upholding the widow’s appeal against that ruling, the Court noted that the will form did not provide a specific space in which the witnesses could sign their names. However, on the evidence, it was clear that they had attended the man’s home in order to witness his will and were present when he signed it. They had appended their names as witnesses, with the intention of attesting the will, and it did not matter that they had done so in capitals, rather than ‘signing’ the document in the usual modern sense of that word. The 1998 will was therefore valid.
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