Advice Admin & Legal Who can witness a will?

Who can witness a will?

After writing your will you need to sign it in front of two witnesses to make it legally binding. There are rules around who can and cannot witness a will which we will go over here.

What do your witnesses do?

Both witnesses are there to confirm that whoever has written the will is indeed the same person signing it. A will is not legally valid until it has been signed by both the person who it is for and two witnesses. Witnesses do not have to read the will or know what is in it when they sign.

The witnesses to your will are there to confirm:

  • The person who wrote the will is the one signing it
  • Signatures haven’t been forged
  • The testator hasn’t been coerced
  • The testator has mental capacity to sign and understands what they are signing

Remember that a will can be invalid on the grounds that correct legal procedure has not been followed. Failing to have two independent witnesses would cause this to be the case.

Who cannot witness your will?

More important than who can sign your will is who cannot. It is best practice to avoid asking someone whose could bring the validity of your will into question.

You will want to consider not asking anyone who stands to benefit from the will:

  • Family members
  • Your partner
  • Any beneficiaries
  • Anyone married or in a civil partnership with a beneficiary
  • Relatives of beneficiaries

Additionally a witness should not be:

  • Under the age of 18
  • Someone who may lack the mental capacity to understand what they are signing

Who can witness a will?

Both of your witnesses need to be over the age of 18, of sound mind and be able to visually confirm that you have signed the will. It is best to choose people who are:

  • Reliable and responsible
  • Independent from you

Colleagues, neighbours or friends are good options to consider. If you are unwell or on medication at the time of signing you may want to ask your GP to sign your will as they will be able to confirm your mental capacity.

What to do as a witness?

The actual process of witnessing a will is fairly straightforward. However it may be worth noting that if you’re uncomfortable about the circumstances you could refuse to witness. This may be because the person signing is being coerced, or that you know you are a beneficiary.