Validity of Wills—form of Will
Validity of Wills—form of Will

The following Wills & Probate guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Validity of Wills—form of Will
  • Format of a Will
  • Formalities
  • Date
  • In writing
  • Signed by the testator
  • Signature
  • Signature on testator's behalf
  • Signature position
  • Attestation
  • more

Coronavirus (COVID-19): As announced on 17 April 2020, the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has authorised District Probate registrars to allow statements of truth to be used in place of affidavits for non-contentious probate applications and processes during the coronavirus pandemic. The relevant rules which are affected by the guidance are: Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987, SI 1987/2024, rr 12(1), 16, 19, 25(2), 26, 32(2), 44(12), 46(2), 46(4), 47(4), 47(6), 48(2)(a), 50(2), 51, 52, 53, 54(3) and 55(2). The guidance is valid until 30 July 2020 but may be made permanent by statutory instrument in future. See: LNB News 17/04/2020 92. For updates on key developments and related practical guidance on the implications of coronavirus for practitioners, see: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Private Client—overview and Coronavirus (COVID-19) toolkit.

Format of a Will

There is no prescribed way in which a Will has to be drafted but convention over many years has developed a tried-and-tested format. While styles may differ between those preparing Wills, the general order of clauses is fairly constant. This helps in reading the Will and avoids errors of omission, as well as providing a consistent method of using technological means to produce Wills.

The usual order of clauses is:

  1. opening and revocation

  2. declarations (negating mutual Wills, confirming funeral wishes, etc)

  3. appointment of executors and trustees

  4. appointment