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Are Handwritten Wills Valid? by Cleo Cupido

CLEO CUPIDO

The importance of drawing up a Will that complies with the necessary formalities is brought home to us in difficult times.

One of the formalities of a valid Will is that it must be in writing, typed or handwritten.

A handwritten Will is valid, but it must be written by the testator /testatrix or another person on their behalf, but not by a beneficiary.

Other formalities include:

  • the signature of the testator must appear on every page of the Will, as well as at the end of the Will,
  • two independent and competent witnesses must sign the Will together with the testator, and
  • the witnesses must sign in the presence of the testator and of each other.

In these  times of social distancing, it could be difficult to sign the Will before two independent, competent witnesses. Testators will need to be creative. A Will can be taken along to be signed when shopping at a pharmacy or food store, where members of the management staff can be asked to attest to your signature. Another option is to ask your neighbours to watch you signing the Will, and then to exchange the document while still maintaining the necessary distance. They can then sign as witnesses, using their own pens.

In order to avoid any challenges to the validity of your Will, or the disqualification of any beneficiary under you Will, it is better to approach an Attorney with the necessary knowledge and expertise to draw up a Will, which will give effect to your wishes and will comply with the required formalities.

Should you have queries about your existing Will or wish to draw up or amend a Will which correctly reflects your wishes, or would like guidance on how to sign a Will during this period of social distancing, please contact our Estate and Trust Department for assistance.

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