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Components Of A Will - Clarity Is Everything

By Stacy Taylor Written on:


In setting out your wishes the guiding principle is clarity. This point cannot be stressed enough.

Punctuation, if used at all, needs careful attention.

In professionally drawn wills in the past, punctuation was never used. Today some professional wills do include punctuation but much depends on the style of the draftsman. In a home-made will any punctuation should be used very carefully.

It is 2015 so I am dealing with a home-made will where no executor was appointed.

The question of who is entitled to a Grant of Letters of Administration with the Will Annexed turns on the construction of the testamentary gifts and the answer is by no means clear. The gifts include gifts of assets that no longer exist and the last paragraph of the will is ambiguous. There are two faint marks in the text which appear to be full stops but might be accidental blots of ink.

The outcome of the case will depend on the interpretation placed upon those marks.

The important thing to bear in mind is that the will must work when viewed in isolation, that is to say, without the benefit of inside knowledge of the testator's affairs or evidence of such from a witness. Once you have finished your will, leave it for 24 hours then return to it, read it and ask yourself, "would a complete stranger reading this understand what I mean?'"

Be absolutely honest with yourself and only proceed further when you are satisfied that the answer is 'Yes.

Even better, get a trusted friend to read it and tell you what he thinks it means. Compare what he says to what you intended and amend your writing accordingly.

What next -Other pages of interest

Free Will Sample download

see: Making a will - The Law Society. Please note that will making differs in Scotland and this website currently deals with English laFree Will download


Perhaps you might consider taking legal advice from a solicitor about making a will if any of the following apply to your circumstances:


  1. A number of people could make a claim on your estate when you pass away because they depend on yourself financially
  2. You want to include a trust in your will (perhaps to provide for children, to save tax, or simply protect your assets in some way after you become deceased)
  3. Your physical and permanent home is not in the UK and / or you are not a British citizen
  4. You live here in the UK but you have additional property abroad
  5. You own all or part of a UK business.

see: Making a will - The Law Society. Please note that will making differs in Scotland and this website currently deals with English law.

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