My ward manager says that I cannot witness a will for one of my patients. Is this true?
A will is a legal document stating what a person wishes to happen after their death. For a will to be valid, it must be signed by the person making it, and their signature has to be witnessed by two individuals who are not benefactors (beneficiaries) of the will.
As long as you are not a benefactor, there is no legal reason why you cannot witness the will of a patient.
There is no legal requirement for a witness to read the will, but they have to be present to witness the person signing their will. Both witnesses then have to sign it. All three people must be present until the final witness has signed, and the process has to occur in a single session.
To be legally valid, a will has to comply with several legal formalities, including the signing. If these formalities are not completed correctly, the will may be invalid and the person’s wishes may not be carried out.
The person acting as witness is effectively signing to say that the will was signed by the individual without any pressure from anyone else.
If there is any doubt about this after the person has died, the witness may be asked to give evidence in court. The will could be disputed if, for example, the person had a condition that may have affected their mental capacity.
It is likely that your manager is considering the legal significance of you witnessing a will and protecting you from this process. They may also want to ensure you are not absent from the ward for a prolonged period should it be disputed.