- The act of signing should take place in the presence of two or more witnesses.
- Each witness should then sign the Will, confirming their witnessing of the Testator’s signature, in the presence of the other witness and the Testator.
The role of executor does not require any signing at the time the Will is made.
The Executor’s duties begin after the death of the Testator when they are responsible for administering the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will. At this point, they may have a wide variety of documents to sign, such as:
- Probate application
- HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) forms
- Estate accounts
- Receipts and releases
- Letters or notifications to financial institutions and creditors
- Contracts and deeds if selling property
In England and Wales, a person can make and sign a Will if they:
- Are 18 years of age or older (with exceptions for members of the armed forces on active service and young mariners).
- Have the mental capacity to make a Will, meaning they understand the implications of the document they are creating, the extent of the property they are disposing of, and the claims of those who might expect to benefit from the Will.
In terms of who can sign as a witness to a Will, the witnesses must:
- Be 18 years of age or older.
- Be of sound mind, able to understand the nature of their act as a witness.
- Not be beneficiaries of the Will or married to or in a civil partnership with any of the beneficiaries. Their independence is crucial because if a beneficiary (or their spouse or civil partner) witnesses a Will, any gift to that beneficiary will be invalid.
- Be present with the testator when they sign the Will and sign it themselves in the presence of the testator and of each other to confirm they have witnessed the testator’s signature. This is to prevent fraud and undue influence.
- Ideally, be people who are likely to be alive and traceable when the Will goes to probate, although this is not a legal requirement.
It is advisable that a Will is made with the assistance of a legal professional to ensure all the legal requirements are fully met and the Will is less likely to be contested.