Who can make a will?

Anyone can make a will

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.

Testamentary capacity

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:

  • that you are making a will;
  • the effect of making a will;
  • approximately what makes up your estate; and
  • who you should consider as a beneficiary, and whether you are including them or excluding them from your will.

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.

What if you are blind or unable to read?

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.

What if there is an overseas connection?

Finally, if there is a foreign element to your will you may need specialist advice when you make your will. Typical foreign elements include:

  • you are not domiciled in the UK;
  • you own foreign assets or property;
  • executors or witnesses are based overseas; or
  • beneficiaries are based overseas.

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.)