The date, or lack of a date on a deceased’s Will, can have significant consequences for executors, beneficiaries, and other parties interested in an estate. Although adding a date to a Will is not a legal requirement, it is advisable. Below we have outlined some frequently asked questions to help understand why the date on a Will is so important.
Is a Will valid without a date?
A Will remains valid even if there is no date applied to it. Without a date, however, there is likely to be difficulty in proving that the undated Will is the most recent Will made by the deceased. This can create uncertainty as to who the ultimate executors and beneficiaries are.
What if the Will has an incorrect date or two different dates?
A Will that contains an incorrect date or two different dates does not become invalid automatically. The Probate Registry will, more than likely, demand evidence to confirm the date for when the Will was signed. They will also require evidence that the document is the final Will of the deceased when a probate application is made.
Can a Will be challenged based on the date of the Will?
An incorrect date, or lack of a date, on a deceased’s Will, is not enough to challenge a Will’s validity. It can, however, give rise to disagreements over which Will is the deceased’s final Will, particularly if there are two Wills that were made very close together. This can impact and sometimes negatively affect the ultimate beneficiaries or executors of the Will.
The date on a Will, if incorrect, can indicate other issues, for example:
- Fraud: if the date was added or had been changed by someone else at a later date.
- Lack of testamentary capacity: if the deceased did not have the capacity at the time that the Will was signed.
- Undue influence: if the deceased was being pressured into signing the Will at that date.
- Knowledge and approval: if the deceased had signed and dated the Will before the contents were properly explained to them.
How long is a Will valid for?
Once it has been written, a Will lasts forever, and they do not have any time restrictions, which means you do not have to write a new one every year. Ideally, you should regularly review and update your Will. Circumstances and family dynamics are not always static, and they regularly change, as do personal affections. These can have a significant effect on how a person would want to leave their estate. The lack of reviewing a Will regularly may result in unwanted results.
Can a spouse overrule a Will?
It should be noted that marriage will automatically revoke a Will. Once married, the existing Will is no longer valid. If a new Will was not drafted, then the intestacy rules would apply, and the new spouse would become the substantial beneficiary.
As it stands, the Intestacy Rules mean the spouse would attain the initial £270,000 of the estate alongside all personal possessions, whatever their value. The spouse would also receive 50% of whatever remains, and the other 50% is split between the surviving children (or their children if they have already died).
If an individual has a Will prior to being married, they should evaluate their Will in contemplation of the marriage. It is ideal to review the Will just before the marriage instead of leaving it until after.
What if the Will is not correctly signed, dated, and witnessed?
For a Will to be valid, it must be in writing and signed by the person who is making the Will (or by another person at the direction of the Will maker if they cannot sign). There must be two independent witnesses to oversee the signature on the Will, and they must be present in the same room and at the same time. The witnesses should not be beneficiaries (which are the individuals who will receive money, assets, or anything else from the estate) or members of family. The witnesses must also sign in the sight and presence of the Will maker.
What if there is concern regarding the validity of a Will?
Should you have any concerns regarding a Will’s validity as an executor, beneficiary, or as another interested party, or if you have concerns surrounding the effects of the Intestacy Rules, you can seek advice from a specialist contentious probate solicitor. They will be able to talk you through the issues and provide advice regarding the best available options.
Why is it important to have an up to date Will?
Research that was carried out by Canada Life reported that fifty-nine per cent of people in the UK do not have a Will that is in place to protect their family and assets. Should an individual die without having a Will, their estate will be distributed in line with the Intestacy Rules. This can lead to undesirable consequences and disappointment. This can result in very distant and estranged family members deriving benefits instead of those closest to the deceased such as cohabitees, stepchildren, and close friends. Intestacy Rules could also result in an estranged spouse being the substantial beneficiary.
If you have any more questions surrounding the dating of a Will or would like to know more regarding the Intestacy Rules, you can get in touch with the Will Disputes Team at Myerson Solicitors.
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