What is a legal will, and are online wills legal or not?

If you’re wondering ‘what is a legal will’ or even if online wills are legal, then you’ve come to the right place, as we’re here to explain everything to you in clear and simple terms.

It’s essential for your will to be fully legal otherwise, frankly, it won’t be worth the paper it’s written on – and all that planning to ensure that your assets are distributed to the people you love most will have gone to waste.

So exactly what is a legal will? What steps do you need to take to ensure it will hold up and be honoured after your death?

How to ensure your will is legal and valid

As a legal document, you need to ensure that your will meets all of the necessary criteria. Firstly, you can only make a legal will if you’re aged 18 years or over, which stands to reason as you’re not legally classed as an adult in the UK until your 18th birthday.

The will must be committed, in writing, to paper and you must also:

  • Be making the will completely voluntarily
  • Be of ‘sound mind’ e.g. be aware of and understand what you’re doing when you write your will

While clear intention and the mental capacity to make the decision to distribute assets as laid out in the will are essential for legality, the absolutely crucial step is for the document to be signed and witnessed…

Witnessing a will for legal validity

Every will should be signed by the testator – the person making the will. However, this can’t be done independently, as the signing of the will MUST be witnessed by two people, both over the age of 18, at with them present at the same time.

As well as witnessing your signature, the witnesses must also both sign the will in your presence too, in order to verify that the will was signed by the testator and not someone else trying to create a fraudulent document.

One thing to be aware of is that the two witnesses MUST NOT be named as beneficiaries in the will. If you’re bequeathing something to them, then you’ll need to find different witnesses if you want your will to be legal.

Are online wills legal?

Thinking of saving a little money by shunning the solicitors and making a will on the internet, but wondering are online wills legal or not? Don’t worry, because essentially the same rules apply.

Providing you have written your will using an online will writing kit, printed it out and organised for your two witnesses to be present at the same time, so you can ALL sign it in each other’s presence, then your online will is completely legally binding.

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