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International Wills
I now have peace of mind that I have something in place in the event of my death. This has been something I have been thinking of doing for a while but never got around to it. Seeing your deal spurred me on to do it. Although on my first attempt I was unable to access the system, this was swiftly sorted out and the whole process went very smoothly and all assistance extended was clear and precise. Receipt of the Will was received in a timely way without any problems.
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Home / Making a Will / Legality of a Will / International Wills

What is an international will?

In 1973 the UK, together with a number of other nations, signed up to the “Convention providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will” (also known as the “Convention of International Wills” or the “Washington Convention”). The purpose of the convention was to harmonise the laws of the countries who were party to the convention in relation to the format of international wills.

The provisions of the convention were introduced into the UK by the passing of the Administration of Justice Act 1982. However, the relevant provisions of that Act have yet to come into force. When such provisions do come into force an international will will be valid as to its form, regardless of where it is made, or the location of the “testator’s” (the person whose will it is) assets or the nationality, domicile or residence of the testator if certain criteria are met.

What criteria will need to be met?

For the format of an international will to be valid the following criteria will need to be met:

  • The will will need to be in writing, although it will not matter what language it is written in.

  • The testator will need to declare in the presence of 2 witnesses and a person authorised to act in connection with international wills (a solicitor or a notary public) that the document is his or her will, and that he or she knows what the contents of the document are.

  • The testator will normally need to sign the will in the presence of the 2 witnesses and the authorised person or, if he or she has previously signed it, he or she will need to acknowledge his or her signature in the presence of the 2 witnesses and the authorised person.

If the testator is unable to sign the will, he or she will have to explain to the authorised person why he or she cannot sign it. In such circumstances the authorised person will have to make a note of this on the will. If the testator cannot sign the will himself/ herself the testator will be able to direct someone to sign the will on his or her behalf. If the testator does not direct another person to sign the will on his or her behalf the will will need to be signed by the authorised person.

The testator’s signature or that of the person signing on his or her behalf will need to be placed at the end of the will and if the will consists of more than one page the testator or person signing on his or her behalf will need to sign each page.

  • The 2 witnesses and the authorised person will then need to “attest” (confirm that they believe that the signature is that of the testator) by signing the will in the presence of the testator at the end of the will.

  • If the will consists of more than one page, each page will need to be numbered.

  • The authorised person will need to note the date of his or her signature at the end of the will. The date noted will be treated as being the date of the will.

  • Currently there is no requirement in England and Wales that a will be stored in a particular place. This being the case the authorised person will need to ask the testator whether he or she wishes to make a declaration as to the safe-keeping of the will.

  • The authorised person will need to attach to the will a certificate confirming that the requirements set out above have been met. If the testator makes a declaration as to the safe-keeping of the will, the place where he or she intends to store the will should be recorded in the certificate.

The authorised person will be required to keep a copy of the certificate and to give a copy to the testator.

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