privileged wills

privileged wills

wills of soldiers on actual military service and of mariners at sea may be valid even although they do not satisfy the requirements of the Wills Act 1837 by virtue of the provisions of that Act and the Wills (Soldiers and Sailors) Act 1918. (Neither of these applies in Scotland.) A will in these circumstances can be nuncupative (oral). The special circumstances must apply at the time the will is made. Actual military service does not require a war to be in progress. ‘Mariner at sea’ has been held to include a civilian employee of a merchant ship employed as a typist. The words must still be of testamentary intent. The person need not be 18 years of age. In Scotland, any oral legacy is valid up to the amount £8.33. The Roman law doctrine of testamentum militare (see below) has not been accepted into Scots law but neither has it been authoritatively rejected.

It was the Roman law doctrine of testamentum militare, ‘military wills’, that has been influential in this respect in legal history. The privilege attached to soldiers or seamen was eventually limited to actual service with the colours. If allowed, it covered wills made before the service and the will remained valid for a year after the service ended. Some evidence other than that of the claimant was needed.

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