Q. My brother recently died, and I know that he had wanted to make a Will. I have spoken to the solicitors who he was dealing with and they have told me that a Will was not completed as he had not signed it. As I know what my brother wanted to happen and it is clear from the unsigned Will, does it matter that the Will had not been signed?
A. Unfortunately, unless a Will meets with the legal formalities required then it will not be an effective testamentary document. One of the fundamental requirements is that the Will has been signed by the person making it in the presence of two witnesses, who then also sign it, all in each other’s presence. Unless this can be shown then the Will will have no legal effect.
If your brother had an earlier Will, that one would take effect, or failing that the Laws of Intestacy will dictate how his estate is to be dealt with. However, if everyone likely to benefit is over 18, has full mental capacity and is in agreement, then it is possible for a Deed of Variation to be entered into to reflect what you all believe your brother would have wanted, and in effect, either re-write the earlier Will, or the Laws of Intestacy.
This can be complicated, so you should consider getting appropriate legal advice.
Jo Wild, Solicitor
This article was previously published in the Stamford Mercury.