Who Can Witness a Will?

For a Will to be legally valid, you’ll have to sign it in front of two witnesses. But, unfortunately, you might not be able to choose who you’d like to.

That’s because there are strict rules around who is legally allowed to witness a Will and who isn’t.

So if you’re making a Will, it’s important to know who you can get to witness it.

Who can witness a Will?

The rules may be strict but they’re not particularly complicated. You need two people over the age of 18 to witness your Will – but they can’t be allowed to benefit from it. So you can’t have anyone witness your Will if they’ve been named as a beneficiary.

You can choose people you’re close with or just acquaintances – as long as they’d be reliable enough to be called on if your Will is ever contested.

It’s best if your witnesses are independent, so close relatives – even if they don’t benefit from your Will – aren’t the best options. But as long as you trust that your choice of witnesses will stand up if your Will is ever contested, you’re generally free to choose who you want.

Some common options are:

  • Colleagues
  • Friends
  • Neighbours

You can also get professionals to witness your Will, such as solicitors, GPs or accountants. In England and Wales, it is recommended that elderly or seriously ill people get medical professionals to witness their Wills.

Witnesses can be related, so it’s acceptable to choose a married couple, siblings or parent and child.

Why are witnesses needed?

You need witnesses who can confirm that you are the person who both wrote the Will and signed it. They can also confirm that your signature wasn’t forged and that you weren’t coerced into signing the Will or that you did so against your will.

If your witnesses don’t stand to gain anything from it, they are impartial. They will be able to clarify the situation around the making of your Will if they need to.

For your Will to be valid and for your wishes for your estate to be upheld after your death, you’ll have to make sure that two people witness you signing it.

If your Will ends up being challenged, your choice of witness could be a deciding factor in whether it is held up in court. An inappropriate witness will result in a higher chance that the directions set out in your Will won’t be carried out.

So make sure that you choose wisely – especially if you think there’s any chance that your Will might be contested.

Can an executor witness a Will?

The role of the executor can sometimes cause confusion. You might assume that because they are carrying out the necessary duties following your death, they then can’t witness the Will.

But there are times when they can. If your executor is not a beneficiary in your Will, they are allowed to witness it.

It’s also worth remembering that executors are also able to be named as beneficiaries in your Will. So think about whether you’d want your chosen executor to inherit anything after your death and then you’ll know whether they can act as a witness or not.

Who should not witness your Will

There are certain people who won’t be able to witness your Will. They include:

  • Anyone named as a beneficiary in the Will they’re witnessing
  • Anyone who lacks the mental capacity to fully understand what they’re witnessing
  • The spouse or civil partner of a named beneficiary

As your witnesses need to be able to see you signing your Will, you should also not appoint anyone who is blind or partially sighted.

It’s also advisable not to choose an elderly witness or one with a serious illness. It’s not a pleasant subject to think about but as your witnesses may need to be called upon after your death, it is best to choose witnesses that you think will survive you.

You might also want to avoid choosing someone who usually lives abroad as it may make it difficult to track them down in the event of a contested Will.

If you need help with writing your Will, get in touch today. First4Lawyers and our expert solicitors can help you through the process, ensuring you know what to do to produce a legally valid Will. Just give us a call, request a call back or enquire online.


It seems you are using an outdated browser.

This will impair your browsing experience around the web. Please visit one of the links below to update to a modern browser then re-open the site with the new browser.

Thank you


Can't find what you are looking for?

We are open as normal during the Coronavirus lockdown and are able to help with all your legal needs.

Call us free of charge

0800 567 7866

Request a Callback

Continue browsing