My wife’s uncle has recently died. He intended to leave a Will and had left a piece of paper in his writing desk with details of what he wanted to happen to his Estate, but while the draft was dated it was not signed. He was childless and his parents and siblings are deceased. Would this draft act as his Will?
No. For a Will to be valid it must be signed by the deceased, who must sign in the presence of two independent witnesses, who themselves must also sign in the presence of the Testator (person making the Will) and both witnesses must state his or her name, address and occupation. The Will must then be dated with the date of signature of all parties.
A Will must also appoint individuals to administer the Estate, called Executors. The piece of paper in this case may represent an expression of wishes and, while dated, it was not signed and therefore has no validity whatsoever.
In the absence of a valid Will, the person making the Will will be deemed to have died Intestate and the order in which beneficiaries are entitled to share his Estate would be in accordance with the Intestacy Rules. On the basis that the deceased was widowed and his parents and siblings had predeceased him, and he had no children, this would result in nephews and nieces being entitled to the Estate.
Accordingly, your wife, as a niece of the deceased, may well be entitled to a share in her late uncle’s Estate.
* Emyr Pierce is Managing Partner of Emyr Pierce Solicitors in Rhiwbina, Cardiff, Western Mail Conveyancer of the Year, specialising in Domestic and Commercial Property. Contact www.emyrpierce.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org