0370 1500 100
Wills Guide

Witnessing A Will

For a Will to be legally binding, the signature of the person making the Will must be witnessed by two independent people. Here you can find more information on the process, who to choose, and what’s involved.

If you have any questions about how to make sure a Will is witnessed properly, our team will be happy to help. Call us today on 0370 1500 100 – or fill out our online form and we’ll call you back.

What Does A Witness Do?

The witness is there to confirm that the testator – the person who has written the Will – is the same person who is signing it. A Will is not valid unless it is signed by both the testator and two witnesses.

The testator must either sign in the presence of two witnesses or acknowledge to the witnesses that it is their signature on the Will. Each witness must then sign the Will themselves. They’ll also need to give their name, address, and occupation. However, they don’t have to read the Will or know what’s in it.

Back to top

Why Do You Need A Witness?

The witnesses confirm that:

  • The person who wrote the Will is the one signing it
  • The signature isn’t forged
  • The testator hasn’t been coerced into signing
  • They have the mental capacity to sign and understand what they are signing.

Having two independent witnesses who have no stake in the Will is important to ensure impartiality – people who stand to inherit from your Will are not allowed to be witnesses.

A Will can be rendered invalid on the grounds of ‘lack of due execution’ – this means the correct legal procedure has not been followed. Failing to have two independent witnesses would count as lack of due execution and the Will would be invalid.

Back to top

What’s The Process?

The process is straightforward. The testator and the two witnesses need to sign and date the Will, and watch each other sign it. The witnesses should also provide their full name, address and occupation.

Write clearly and in ink, and don’t fasten anything to the Will, as this could make it invalid.

If you have any questions on the signing process our team is happy to help. Call us today on 0370 1500 100 – or fill out our online form and we’ll call you back.

Back to top

What Legal Responsibilities Does A Witness Have?

A witness doesn’t have any ongoing legal responsibilities once they’ve signed the Will. The only time they might be called upon again is if there is a challenge to the validity of the Will after the testator has died.

If someone claims that the signature is forged, or that the testator was either pressured into signing or didn’t have the mental capacity to sign, the witness’ testimony could be vital. They may be asked to sign an affidavit to confirm the circumstances in which the Will was signed.

Back to top

Who Can Be A Witness?

A witness must be an independent adult who isn’t related to the testator and has no personal interest in the Will. A neighbour or family friend is ideal.

Someone cannot be a witness if they are:

  • The spouse or civil partner of the testator
  • A beneficiary of the Will
  • The spouse or civil partner of a beneficiary.

Executors can witness the Will, however.

If you’re confused about any aspect of the Will signing process, or not sure who to ask as a witness, our team is happy to help. Call us today on 0370 1500 100 – or fill out our online form and we’ll call you back.

Back to top

Should You Ever Refuse To Witness A Will?

You should refuse to witness a Will if:

  • The person signing is not the testator
  • You don’t think the testator has mental capacity
  • You think the testator is being coerced into signing the Will
  • You know that you are a beneficiary under the Will or you’re the spouse or civil partner of a beneficiary.

This is not an exhaustive list, and if you’re uncomfortable in any way about the circumstances you should refuse.

Back to top

Can A Beneficiary Be A Witness?

No – if a beneficiary, or their spouse or civil partner, witnesses a Will, they forfeit their right to their share of the estate.

Back to top

Can An Executor Be A Witness?

Yes, an executor can witness a Will – as long as they are not also a beneficiary.

Back to top

Is The Will Invalid If A Witness Dies?

No – a person might make a Will many years before it comes into effect, so it’s entirely possible that one, or both, of the witnesses die before the testator. This doesn’t invalidate it in any way.

Back to top


If you have any questions about witnessing a Will our team will be happy to help. Call today on 0370 1500 100 or fill out our online form and we’ll call you back.

Contact us today

And let us know how we can help

Prefer not to call?

Use our form

This data will only be used by Irwin Mitchell for processing your query and for no other purpose.

Start Your Claim Today

To begin your claim for compensation, or ask any questions regarding personal injury claims, contact us today for a free consultation.

This data will only be used by Irwin Mitchell for processing your query and for no other purpose.

© 2019 Irwin Mitchell LLP is Authorised & Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Our Regulatory Information.