As a Wills spe­cial­ist, one of the most fre­quent ques­tions I get asked is how do I make a will’? How­ev­er, by this, most peo­ple real­ly mean one of three things; 1) what word­ing do I need to use? 2) Can I type my will or does it have to be hand writ­ten? 3) How do I sign my will?

I’ll briefly go through all three ques­tions below.

Many peo­ple wor­ry about how to word their will. The major wor­ry is whether any spe­cial legal word­ing needs to be used to make the will valid. This dilem­ma was faced by Mr Dick­ens in 1904. Although he knew who he want­ed to leave his Estate to (mon­ey, house etc), he was unsure how to word the will to ensure his wish­es were car­ried out. After much delib­er­a­tion, Mr Dick­ens decid­ed to use the word­ing all for moth­er’. That’s it. They are the only words con­tained in his will apart from the sig­na­tures. It may sur­prise many peo­ple to know that this word­ing is valid. This is because the word­ing is clear and unam­bigu­ous. Every­thing is to go to moth­er’. Bizarrely, in this case Mr Dick­ens actu­al­ly meant his wife rather than his moth­er! How­ev­er, it was clear from evi­dence pro­vid­ed to the court that he referred to his wife as moth­er’. The most impor­tant point to remem­ber with the word­ing of a will, is to make it clear who you are leav­ing your Estate to. For exam­ple, All to my broth­er’ would also be valid if you only had one broth­er but not if you had more than one (unless it could be proved beyond doubt that you only meant a par­tic­u­lar one).

Once the word­ing has been decid­ed, the next ques­tion is how to record it. Does a will need to be hand­writ­ten or can it be typed? If so, is there a spe­cial font or font size that must be used? This is the type of sit­u­a­tion Mr Barnes found him­self in. Mr Barnes delib­er­at­ed for sev­er­al days as it was a very impor­tant deci­sion and he want­ed to ensure he made the cor­rect choice. After many days and count­less sleep­less nights, he had final­ly had enough, he knew he must make a deci­sion. To be safe and ensure his will would def­i­nite­ly be valid, he decid­ed the only sen­si­ble thing to do was write his will on…an emp­ty eggshell. Yes, you read that cor­rect­ly, he wrote his will on the shell of an egg. Under­stand­ably, Mr Barnes’ rel­a­tives were con­cerned about the valid­i­ty of this will’ and hatched a plan to declare the will’ invalid. How­ev­er, the Court decid­ed that a will can be writ­ten on any mate­r­i­al and will not declare a will invalid sim­ply due to it hav­ing been writ­ten on an unusu­al mate­r­i­al. To the court’s undoubt­ed relief, the rumours that Mr Barnes had writ­ten anoth­er will on a chick­en the same day turned out to be unfound­ed, there­fore spar­ing the court the ardu­ous task of decid­ing which one came first.

By now, you will have decid­ed how to word your will (clear­ly and unam­bigu­ous­ly) and how to record it (typed or hand­writ­ten on any type of mate­r­i­al). The final point to con­sid­er is: How do I sign my will?

Most peo­ple are aware that their will must be wit­nessed i.e. that some­one must watch them sign their will. How­ev­er, many peo­ple are unsure of the cor­rect way to do this. To ensure your will is valid, you must sign your will in front of two wit­ness­es that are present at the same time, who are of sound mind and who must not be named in your will or be mar­ried to a per­son named in the will. You must sign your will and your wit­ness­es must also sign below your name. How­ev­er, despite the list of require­ments, did you know that wit­ness­es do not need to be over 18? Pro­vid­ed a wit­ness has suf­fi­cient matu­ri­ty, they can act as a wit­ness. For exam­ple a 16 year old has suc­cess­ful­ly wit­nessed a will. Per­haps the most sur­pris­ing fact of all is that a wit­ness does not actu­al­ly need to watch you sign your will, pro­vid­ed you acknowl­edge that the sig­na­ture on the will is yours.

To suc­cess­ful­ly sign your will, you must:

1) Sign your will (prefer­ably at the bot­tom) in the pres­ence of
2) Two wit­ness­es that are both present at the same time
3) Who are of sound mind (i.e. not suf­fer­ing from any men­tal illnesses)
4) Who are of suf­fi­cient maturity
5) and are unre­lat­ed to any­one named in the will
6) Both wit­ness­es must then sign your will, below where you have signed.


1) Wit­ness­es should both be over 18 to avoid the need to prove maturity
2) Both wit­ness­es watch you sign your will
3) Both wit­ness­es should include their full address and occu­pa­tion (to help iden­ti­fy them)

So in sum­ma­ry, you may write your will on an eggshell, leave it all for your moth­er’ who is real­ly your wife and have your will wit­nessed by a 16 year old who is look­ing the oth­er way when you sign. How­ev­er, we do not rec­om­mend you fol­low the above method! Instead, we advise you to allow us to pre­pare your will for you so all you need to do is decide who you want to leave your Estate to. We’ll take care of the rest! Emp­ty eggshells optional.

To arrange a dis­cus­sion about Wills, please get in touch with Paul Clark on 01625 523988 or mail@​JBGass.​com