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Beneficiary witnesses and void gifts in a Will – new rules needed to include cohabiting couples

Posted on 20th December 2021 in Probate & Wills

Posted by

Sue Halfyard

Partner & Chartered Legal Executive
Beneficiary witnesses and void gifts in a Will – new rules needed to include cohabiting couples

In this article relating to the witnessing of Wills and their validity, the Law Commission is looking at beneficiary law and making various suggestions one of which is that a gift of a cohabitee of a witness should be void.

There are strict rules in place for witnessing Wills.  One of these rules is that if the spouse or civil partner of a beneficiary witnesses the Will then the gift to the beneficiary in the Will is void.  The Law Commission is now looking at extending this to include the cohabitee of the beneficiary.  It is, therefore,  important to ensure that the witnesses do not invalidate any gifts in a Will and for the relationship of any witnesses to be considered.  For the avoidance of doubt the best course of action is always to provide two independent witnesses. 

No doubt this change is being considered as more adults now cohabit without marrying and the possibility that a witness’s cohabitant might benefit from a Will has significantly increased.

 

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