• Rose and Rose Solicitors

Can A Will Be Valid If You Can't Read It?

One of the requirements for a will to be accepted as valid is that the person who makes it must have 'knowledge and approval' of its contents...in other words, they must understand what the will says and what it means in practice.

It might seem, therefore, that a will in a language the testator could not read would be difficult to validate, but that was not the view of the High Court in a recent case.

The son of a couple who had executed 'mirror wills' contested his late mother's will. The will, written in 1998, gave her estate to his younger brother. He argued that she could not have understood the will, which was written in English, as her command of the language was insufficient to give her knowledge and approval of its contents.

However, the Court ruled that in the absence of any evidence to the contrary or any suspicious circumstances surrounding its execution, the will should stand.

The bar is set high for those who wish to challenge a will on the basis that the person making it lacked knowledge and approval, with the burden of proof resting on those seeking to invalidate it.

However, in a case like this, the provision of a signed and certified translation in the language of the person creating the will is a sensible precaution.

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