Do I need to make a new Will if one of my witnesses dies before me?
There is often some confusion and misunderstanding about what happens if one of the witness to your Will dies before you, so here we will explain the effect the death of a witness has on the validity of a Will.
Who can witness a Will?
Any adult who has “mental capacity” can witness your Will, as long as they are not a beneficiary, or married to a beneficiary. Legally, the only qualification for your witnesses is that both are over 18 years of age. Since both must see you signing your will, an implied qualification is that neither is blind. By law, your Will needs to be witnessed by two witnesses for it to be valid. It is all about preventing fraud. There is a need for two witnesses to be present at the same time, so that each one can confirm that they watched you sign your Will on a particular day and at a particular place.
What happens if a witness dies before me?
If a witness dies before you, or ‘pre-deceases’ you in legal language, it won’t invalidate your Will. That in a nutshell is the answer to the question do I need to make a new Will if one of my witnesses dies before me? However, very occasionally it may be the case that when applying for probate, the executor could be asked to provide proof that a witness has died and that their signature is valid. In practise, this is very rare.
When making a Will, it is essential that it is witnessed correctly. That is why for every Will we create, we include a complimentary “Will Signing Guide” to explain the process.