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Wills: What Happens If An Executor Or Witness Dies Before You? 27 November 2020

Making a Will enables you to protect loved ones long after you've died, and to do so in the way you wish this to happen, including who your executors are - so, what happens if an executor or witness dies before you?

It's important to review your Will on a regular basis, especially when something happens or your circumstances change.

What If An Executor Dies Before You?

If an executor dies, this does not invalidate your Will and if you have another named executor - you can appoint up to 4 executors - they should still be able to apply for probate.

It is only if your sole executor or all named executors die that the court would then decide between the various beneficiaries named in the Will, who should then act as the executor. If this is the case, you may want to make a new Will to ensure the executor is someone you want rather than someone chosen by the court.

What If A Witness Dies Before You?

A witness may be called upon to validate your Will by confirming you were of sound mind when you signed it. Anyone over the age of 18 can be a witness, provided they are not blind, not a beneficiary or married to a beneficiary, and have mental capacity.

If a witness dies before you, your Will remains legally valid. However, at the point of applying for probate the executor may be required to provide proof from the witness that the Will was validly signed.

As this can cause issues, you may want to take action today - either by asking your surviving witness to swear an affidavit confirming they were both present when the Will was signed, or by making a new Will.

Helping You With Your Will

A Will should reflect all your wishes for your estate when you die, including who your beneficiaries and executors are. If one or more of your executors dies or your witness dies before you, we'd recommend speaking to your solicitor for advice on the best options available to you.

Our Wills and Probate solicitors would be happy to discuss any life event or change to your personal situation with you, to understand if this new happening has a bearing on your Will. If required, we will help you review your existing Will, possibly adding in a supplement called a codicil to detail the change, or drafting a new Will.

With our help, you will ensure your Will remains true to your wishes and legally watertight, regardless of any changes of circumstance you experience over time.

To speak to one of our specialist solicitors about an executor or witness dying before you and the impact this has on your Will, please contact us at our Chorlton office on 0161 860 7123 or email chorlton@hlfberry.com or at our Failsworth office on 0161 681 4005 or email failsworth@hlfberry.com