Anyone can make a will as long as they are at least 18 and have testamentary capacity. There are some exceptions to the minimum legal age to make a will in special circumstances, but the usual position is that the power to make a will – like the power to own property – begins when a person reaches the age of majority: 18.
While most people will not need to be concerned about mental capacity, it may affect you if you are suffering from a physical or mental illness that would prevent you understanding:
If you are suffering from a condition that has a different effect on your mental capacity over time (such as Alzheimer’s) all that matters is that you had the necessary understanding on the day that you made your will. For more information about how to prove this, please see our Testamentary capacity page. Alternatively, if you are concerned about your ability to make decisions, you may want to consider using a LPA (lasting power of attorney) to appoint someone who can make decision for you if you become unable to do so yourself.
There are several situations where you may need to help someone else to make a will. If someone no longer has the mental capacity to make a will themselves, it is still possible for them to make a will through the Court of Protection. However, often someone will need to apply to the court on their behalf, details of which are in our Court of Protection page.
If the testator is blind or illiterate, they can ask someone to read them the contents of the will before they sign it or make a mark instead of a signature. However, it is important to take care as there is a risk that the will could be challenged on the basis of undue influence. Undue influence is difficult to prove, but if successful the will may be declared invalid. Our page on Drafting your will includes information about avoiding undue influence, and the special precautions that are needed for people who are blind or illiterate.
Finally, if there is a foreign element to your will you may need specialist advice when you make your will. Typical foreign elements include:
None of these foreign elements prevent you from making a valid UK will. But there may be specific rules in the other countries concerned that need to be taken into account. Issues to consider are fully explained on our Domicile and wills with a foreign element page.
(If a term is in bold, that means it's in our Glossary.)
You must be 18 or over for your will to be legally valid unless you are on active military service
Testamentary capacity, the mental capacity to make a will, is crucial to making a valid will
If someone loses mental capacity, the Court of Protection can make a will on their behalf
A lasting power of attorney appoints someone to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so
If you are domiciled overseas, or there is some overseas connection, you may need professional advice to make your will
As a will can be drafted in several different ways it is important to make the right choice