Emil Ford Lawyers

Informal Wills

Normally, for a Will to be valid, it must be a formal document signed by the person making the Will and by two witnesses.  However, in some circumstances, the courts can declare that a document which does not meet the formal requirements is nevertheless an effective Will.  The Court has to be satisfied that the person intended the document to be his or her Will.

Picture of person signing Will



"For a Will to be valid it  must be signed by the person making the Will and by two witnesses"

We assisted with such a case this year.  The deceased person had some assistance preparing her Will (although not from a lawyer).   She then took the document to a local shopkeeper who was also a Justice of the Peace.  She signed the Will and the JP signed as a witness.  There was no second witness as the law requires.

We were able to satisfy the Supreme Court of NSW that the deceased did intend the “informal Will” to be her Will.  However, this involved obtaining statements from the JP, the solicitor who prepared the deceased’s previous Will and from one of the deceased’s children.  It also involved obtaining written consents from all the beneficiaries named in the deceased’s previous Will.  In other words, while the outcome was satisfactory, there was both delay and uncertainty.  Also, a great deal of time and cost was spent solving a problem that would not have existed if the Will had been signed properly in the first place.

This all underlines the importance of getting your solicitor to prepare your Will and to arrange for it to be signed correctly.

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