What is an “attestation” clause in a will

A customer asked why we need such a long signature clause at the end of the will. In a will the signature clause is known as the “attestation clause”.

An attestation clause isn’t a formal requirement for a will to be legally valid. It does make everyone’s life a whole lot easier. We ensure that there is an attestation clause in every will we make.

The attestation clause sets out what has happened when the will was signed and exactly what happened. There are two sections.

The first has the date and your signature. It’ll say something like “signed by me on [the date of the will] [signature]”. The second will set out what happened with the witnesses just above where they sign it. It’ll say: “Signed by [your name] in our joint presence and then by us in theirs”.

It might not sound like a lot – but having a valid attestation clause means the courts assume that the will was signed properly (i.e. “executed”). Without the clause one or both of the witnesses would have to provide a sworn statement before the will is accepted to probate.

Because our wills have a well drafted attestation clause it’s all assumed to be done correctly. The will can still be challenged but the onus will be on the person challenging to say that you did not sign it in front of the witnesses in the proper way.

The formalities for executing a will are set out in s9 of the Wills Act 1837. The rules around the attestation clause are set out in Rule 12 of the Non Contentious Probate Rules 1987.

Read more about how to properly execute your will.