One of the basic rules for creating a valid will is that it must be signed by the testator and the signature must be witnessed by two people. Failure to follow this or a number of other simple rules can lead to a will being successfully challenged in court.
Recently, the daughters of a Sikh man who left the large majority of his estate of nearly £900,000 to his sons won their legal battle to have their father’s will declared invalid.
The man had three sons and three daughters. The daughters contested his will, which awarded all but £40,000 of his estate to his sons.
The daughters disputed that their father’s signature had been witnessed correctly. They produced as a witness his neighbour, who gave evidence that although he had signed the will as a witness when the testator signed it, the other witness was not present at the time.
Although the legacies were in keeping with Sikh tradition, the court agreed that as the witnesses were not both present to attest to the man’s signature when the will was signed, it was not valid and the man’s estate should therefore be distributed according to the laws of intestacy.
Instead of the man’s estate being divided as he intended, it will now be split equally amongst his children.
Click here for guidance on the laws of intestacy.