What Makes A Will Invalid?

Published / Last Updated on 31/05/2023

If you do not have a will, you die intestate and your estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  This may mean your assets may not be left to right people or in the proportions that you desire.

See:  No Will Married, Children and No Will & Not Married

Same Rules if Your Will is or Becomes Invalid

Invalid wills also mean you die intestate, so the same intestacy rules apply and present problems for the estate in that executors cannot ‘prove’ the estate and so no grant of probate will be granted.  You will need to complete additional forms with the Probate Registry to be accepted as an administrator of the estate.  The Legal Services Consumer Panel estimates that one in five wills are invalid.

What Causes a Will to Fail and be Invalid?

  • Clauses in the will fail, e.g., you leave your estate to a loved one, but they have already died, and you did not include reserve beneficiaries e.g., other loved ones or charities.
  • Not signed correctly by all three parties i.e., you the testator (the person who’s will it is) and two witnesses. 
  • Invalid witness e.g., a under 18 witnessed your will or any person named in the will as a beneficiary cannot be a witness.
  • Handwritten changes to your will e.g., you cannot write on or add/delete clauses to your will using a pen, this automatically makes the will invalid.  You can make changes with an official ‘codicil’ attached to your will.
  • Will documents have been tampered with e.g., torn, page missing, removed from bindings will all invalidate your will.
  • You made a will under duress or pressure from others.
  • You are incapacitated i.e., your do not have the mental capacity to understand making a will and signing one.
  • If an attorney makes a new will or replaces your existing will when a lasting power of attorney is in place, the new will is invalid unless the attorney has applying to the Office of the Public Guardian and then making a Statutory Will that has been sealed by the Court of Protection.
  • Getting married or entering a civil partnership automatically invalidates an existing will unless your existing will already mentions your impending marriage/civil partnership, to whom and the date.

You should always seek professional help when making a will or changing one to ensure that it does not fail.

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