A last Will and Testament is one of the most important documents you will prepare in your lifetime. It’s vital that you record your intentions as to the distribution of your estate and who is in charge of the same (i.e. your executor/s).
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People have been known to ‘not think they need a Will’ until it’s too late and hence we have death bed Wills and Wills created on belief of imminent death (i.e. plane crashes); the circumstances can be wide and varied. Wills created in these circumstances have been written on various mediums (such as napkins, menus and coasters), but are these ‘Wills’ valid?
When a Will is not written in a form set out by legislation, it becomes known as “an informal Will”, being a Will that doesn’t comply with the formalities of law. The Wills Act 1936 states that if it can be shown that a document expresses the deceased’s testamentary intentions, and it was intended by the deceased to be their ‘Last Will and Testament’ then the Court may accept it as such. However, the process to admit an informal Will can be quite lengthy and expensive (if disputed). Accordingly, before reaching for a napkin and a pen, we always recommend preparation of your last Will and Testament pursuant to legislation and preferably prepared by a lawyer, so as to avoid unnecessary costs to your executors in the event of your death.