According to WillAid, nearly 80% of people in Northern Ireland have failed to make a will. However, making a will is one of the most important things that you can do to ensure that your money, estate and assets end up in the hands of your loved ones rather than elsewhere when you are no longer here.
When writing a Will, it is important to have two witnesses so that they can testify to the circumstances around the execution of the Will if it’s ever questioned after you die. Essentially, witnesses are individuals who see something happen and vouch for it happening.
In 1837, the Wills Act was passed in the UK, stating that two independent adults must be present when somebody signs their own will. They must then add their own signatures to the document to testify to being a witness. The two witnesses must be:
- Over eighteen years old
- Must not be potential beneficiaries of the will or their spouses
- Must not be members of your own family
Witnesses must be independent to ensure that there is no conflict of interests. A friend can be a witness so long as they aren’t a beneficiary of the will. The same goes for a work colleague, a neighbour or the parent of your child’s best friend. Make sure that they are comfortable signing your will as a witness and ensure that you sign your will in front of them to make it valid.
There is no potential comeback or commitment to be made by your witness adding their signature to testify as a witness. This is simply an assurance to ensure that your will can pass through probate without any issues. Your will can be deemed valid and your wishes can then be carried out.
In the event of death, you may be appointed as an Executor or Administrator of a friend or family member. Naturally, you may seek support in administering tax issues, gathering inventories and distributing possessio. In this case, H McPartland & Sons Solicitors can assist you in dealing with HMRC, obtaining Grants of Representation and distributing assets.