We are often asked if a handwritten Statement of wishes would be sufficient to pass as a valid Will.
Handwritten Wills, also known as Holographic Wills, are Wills where the person to whom the document relates, writes the Will themselves and signs it, in the same way that you may write a letter confirming your instructions and wishes.
For a holographic Will to be a lawful and valid document in England and Wales it must be executed in accordance with Section 9 of the Wills Act 1837. That is, that it must be signed by the person making the Will, with intention of it giving effect to their Will, in the presence of two adult independent witnesses. Both witnesses must be present when the person making the Will signs it and the witnesses must also remain present with each other when they complete the signing. Furthermore, the witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the Will.
Whether a person makes a homemade Will or a holographic Will, it will only be valid if it meets with the above requirements.
If a home-made Will is left unwitnessed, it will not be valid unless it qualifies as a Privileged Will. A person in acting military service can make a Privileged Will as this may need to be made quickly and can be in written or spoken form in front of a credible witness.
Do I need to see a lawyer if I am making a handwritten Will?
Some people ask if it is necessary to see a legal executive or solicitor to prepare a Will, when you could just write one yourself. However, using this option does not guarantee a valid Will on your death, it could cause complex problems during Probate and it could also increase the risk of fraud, error and potential Inheritance Tax liabilities which may otherwise have been able to have been avoided.
It is important to seek professional advice from a qualified legal professional when making a Will to avoid complications and expenses after your death.s