It is important to make sure your will is properly signed. With differences in the requirements in Scotland and England, not to mention the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, it can be difficult to get it right. So, how should you sign a will in Scotland?
The legal requirements
In Scotland, a will needs to be signed by the granter at the bottom of every page. The granter’s signature should also be witnessed by one independent adult witness. You should not have someone named in your will acting as a witness.
Ideally the witness will watch the person sign and then sign themselves. In addition the witness should provide their full name and address, along with the place (town/city) and the date of signing. Although the granter signs at the bottom of every page, the witness should only sign the final page of the will.
The court may accept a will that has only been signed by the granter on the last page or a will that hasn’t been witnessed properly. However, this would require evidence regarding the granter’s signature being submitted to the court, and it will add time and delay to the process of dealing with the estate. It is therefore important to ensure that the will is signed following the correct procedure.
Most people will appoint a solicitor to draft their will, however, this is not absolutely necessary. If you have drafted your own will, you should still follow the above instructions to ensure that it is accepted by the court. If the place or date of signing is missing, enquiries can be made to find that information retrospectively in order to satisfy the court, but it makes everything more straightforward if you can follow the guidance.
The position in England is different
One important thing to note is that the law in England and Scotland differs in this area.
A will requires two witnesses in England but there is no need to provide the place the document was signed. As explained above, in Scotland only one witness is required but the place of signing should be included.
Signing a will during the pandemic
The Law Society of Scotland temporarily amended their guidance on witnessing to allow solicitors to act as witness via video call, providing that the solicitor is not an executor. We can send the documents out to you in the post once we have arranged a video meeting. During the video call, you would first show your solicitor that the document is unsigned, and then sign it while still on the video call. You then return the signed documents to us. On receipt of the documents your solicitor will sign as the witness and add the witness details. This means that you will not need to ask an independent witness to visit you to watch you sign the will, which would potentially put you and your witness at risk during the pandemic.
If you do not have access to video call facilities, we will agree with you the best arrangements for signing your will.
Contact us to discuss your will
If you are interested in making a will, or changing an existing will, we can help. Please contact one of our personal law solicitors and we will be happy to discuss it with you.