Informal Wills and How to Avoid Them

When it comes to writing a Will, there are a handful of strict rules which must be adhered to. Although mistakes are a normal part of life, and enable us to learn and grow as individuals, there are some mistakes you just don’t want to make. This is especially true when making a Will as it could mean the difference between creating a legally binding Will and an informal Will.

An Informal Will is a document designed to act as the deceased’s testamentary wishes, but fails to comply with the legal requirements of Will making and in doing so, invalidates the Will.

A number of strict requirements must be met when writing a Will in order for the Will to be legally valid. These include:

  • The Will is in writing and signed by the Will-maker (the testator) or by someone in the presence of and at the direction of the testator
  • The signature is made with the testator’s intention of executing a Will
  • The signature is made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of at least 2 witnesses present at the same time
  • At least 2 witnesses attest and sign the Will in the presence of the testator, but not necessarily in the presence of each other
  • The Will must be dated

If any of the above requirements are not met, the Will may be considered informal or invalid and not accepted by the courts. This in turn means that A Grant of Probate may not be granted.

Some examples of informal Wills include:

  • A handwritten note outlining the testator’s testamentary wishes
  • A Will drawn up by a solicitor, but unsigned by the testator before their passing
  • A tape or video recording of the Will-maker’s wishes
  • A note to the solicitor requesting changes be made to the Will, but not acted on before the Will maker's death.

In spite of clearly outlining the formal requirements of Will making, the courts have in some cases, accepted an Informal Will and thereby allowed the executor to receive a Grant of Probate and ultimately finalise and distribute the estate. 

In order for the executor to be successful in receiving a Grant of Probate for an Informal Will, a number of requirements must be met.

  • There must be a document
  • The document must record the deceased, Will-maker’s intentions
  • The document must have been intended by the deceased to be their final Will and testament 

To prove all of the above are true and proper, a considerable amount of investigation is required to illustrate to the courts that the documents provided are likely to be the intentions of the deceased and were intended by the deceased to be their final Will and testament. It’s a case by case situation and the more evidence provided, the greater the chance of being granted Probate. Evidence can take the form of witness statements, text messages, email correspondence, or communication between the deceased and a solicitor prior to their death.

To avoid the risk of writing an Informal Will and unintentionally creating unwanted and expensive legal work for your loved ones, you can write your legally valid online Will with Willed today.