How do I know if a Will was witnessed correctly?

Discovering that a loved one has passed away brings a myriad of emotions, alongside the necessity to deal with the practical aspects of their estate. If you find yourself questioning the validity of a will, you are not alone. This is a critical concern, especially when the document’s contents significantly impact you or others close to the deceased. At C-PAID, we specialise in navigating the complexities of contentious probate and inheritance disputes, offering guidance to those who wish to ensure that a will genuinely reflects the testator’s intentions, with No Win No Fee legal action available for those people who require assistance from our specialist will dispute solicitors.

Understanding the Importance of a Properly Witnessed Will

In England and Wales, the law is clear: for a will to be legally valid, it must be signed by the testator (the person making the will) in the presence of two witnesses, who must then sign the will in the testator’s presence. This isn’t just a formality. It’s a vital safeguard designed to prevent undue influence, coercion, and fraud, ensuring the will reflects the true wishes of the deceased.

Verifying Witness Procedure Compliance

Should you have concerns regarding the validity of a will, one of the first steps is to verify whether the will was properly witnessed, adhering to the following criteria:

  • Presence of Witnesses: The testator and both witnesses must have been in each other’s presence at the time of signing. They should all see each other apply their signatures.
  • Independent Witnesses: Ensure the witnesses were independent—meaning they were not beneficiaries of the will nor closely related to any beneficiaries. Witnesses should be over 18 years old and of sound mind.
  • Sequential and Visible Signing: The witnesses must have signed the will after the testator, with each party visibly acknowledging each other’s act of signing. This sequential and visible signing is a cornerstone of ensuring a will’s validity.

Actions to Take if You Suspect Will Irregularities

  • Gather Evidence: Compile any evidence that may point to the will’s improper execution. This might include statements from the witnesses if they are reachable and have recollection of the signing event.
  • Witness Recollection: A crucial step you can take is to contact the witnesses to ascertain if they remember the act of witnessing the will. Ask if they recall seeing the testator sign the document and whether proper protocol was followed during this process.
  • Seek Expert Advice from C-PAID: Given the potential complexities surrounding wills and their witnessing, professional advice is invaluable. At C-PAID, our expertise in contentious probate and inheritance disputes allows us to provide the tailored advice and support needed to navigate these challenging waters.

Challenging the validity of a will is a sensitive and intricate process—one that requires a clear understanding of the law and a strategic approach. If your initial inquiries raise further concerns, it may be prudent to explore more formal routes of contestation, such as bringing a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975 for reasonable financial provision and taking legal action against the disputed will itself, through the assistance of our specialist will contesting solicitors – our solicitors act on a genuine No Win No Fee basis.

Why Turn to C-PAID for Support?

At C-PAID, we are committed to helping our clients understand their legal rights and options when it comes to contested wills and inheritance disputes, and assisting them with genuine No Win No Fee help through our team of specialist solicitors. With a deep understanding of the laws governing wills, trusts, and estates in England and Wales, our team is poised to offer comprehensive support and guidance through every step of the process. Whether you’re seeking preliminary advice on will validity or need robust legal representation to challenge a questionable will, we’re here to help.

If you have doubts about a will’s validity and how it may affect your rights or the legacy of a loved one, don’t hesitate to contact C-PAID. Our expert team will provide you with the clarity, support, and legal acumen needed to navigate these sensitive matters, striving to ensure that justice, and the true wishes of the deceased, are upheld.