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Sometimes people choose to draw up their own will or they feel the need to put a will in place in a hurry and don’t have time to get professional assistance. If you are in this position, it is important to ensure that your DIY will meet all the requirements set out in the Wills Act for a valid will. If your will does not meet the required formalities, your will may be declared invalid.
The required formalities for a valid will are as follows:
- The testator must be older than 16 and mentally capable of understanding the consequences of his/her actions.
- The testator must sign their full signature at the end of the document. It is advised that the signature is placed close to the end of the text. If there is a big gap before the signature, there is more chance of questions being raised about text being added after the testator signed the will.
- The document must also be signed by two competent witnesses at the same time. Witnesses can be anyone above the age of 14 who has the contractual capacity and are mentally capable of understanding the consequences of their actions.
- The witnesses must sign in the presence of the testator and of each other at the same time. It is advisable that a beneficiary or executor should not sign a will as a witness. The witnesses do not have to read the will, they are only witnessing that the testator is signing the will.
- If the document is more than one page, every page must be signed by the testator. Although not stipulated in the Wills Act, to be safe we suggest the witnesses also sign every page.
- The testator can ask someone to sign the will on his behalf or sign by making a mark if he cannot write. If this happens, a commissioner of oaths must be present when the document is signed and the commissioner of oaths must certify that she/he has satisfied himself/herself as to the identity of the testator, and that the document is the will of the testator and every page of the document is signed. The commissioner must sign every page of the will and place her certificate and signature on the will as soon as possible after the will has been signed.
- It is highly recommended to date your will to avoid any confusion in case more than one will is found after your death. It is also important to revoke previous wills made if your intention is to replace your previous will entirely.
We always recommend seeking professional advice when drawing up a will, as, besides the above formalities which need to be complied with, there are many other factors which need to be kept in mind when planning your estate or drafting your will.
To ensure that your will complies with all the required formalities, please contact our office for assistance.