Signing a will
Signing a will
Preparing the contents of a will is a key step to providing a level of certainty and direction about your estate when you pass away. Correctly undertaking the final part of will preparation – the signing of the will – is equally as important.
Both the testator (the person who is making the will) and the witnesses to the will must take certain steps when signing a will to ensure that the will is a valid document. If your will is not correctly signed, it may cause problems for your family in dealing with your estate after you pass away.
The following steps should be taken to have a validly signed will:
Read the will
Once your will is prepared you should read the will carefully, ensuring that each page is there and that you understand and approve of everything written in the will. If you see anything that you would like to change, discuss this with your lawyer and arrange for the will to be amended and re-printed. It is recommended that you do not make any corrections or markings on the final draft of the will. Otherwise it could be assumed that the alterations were made after the will was signed, and therefore not valid.
A will should be witnessed by two people who are both over the age of 18 years. They should not be named or related to any person named in your will. If a witness is either directly or indirectly linked to your will this may cause disputes about the validity of the will.
Sign and witness the will
The same pen should be used by both the testator and the witnesses when signing the will.
The testator should sign at the bottom of each page of the will, and then put a signature and date at the end of the will.
Once you have signed your will, each witness should also sign at the bottom of each page, and then sign at the end of the will, adding their name, occupation, and address.
Both you and your witnesses should be present for the entire process of signing the will, and each person must watch each signature being signed. You are not required to tell the witnesses what is in your will.
There may be some issues with signing the will, such as the testator’s ability to read, write, or understand the English language. If the testator cannot read, the will should be read in full to the testator by one of the witnesses in the presence of the other witness. The witnesses should then state in the will that they heard the will read, and that they were satisfied the testator understood and approved of the will.
If the testator cannot write, they may mark a cross in the places where the testator’s signature would normally go. The witnesses should then state in the will that the mark was made by the testator.
If the testator does not understand English, one of the witnesses should read the will to the testator in the testator’s own language in the presence of the other witness. The witnesses should state in the will that the testator understood and approved of the will.
After the will is signed
Do not attach anything to the will once it has been completed and signed. Even attaching something by paperclip may create issues about the validity of the will.
The will should be kept in a safe place (if a lawyers has assisted in making the will, they can keep the will in safe custody for you). You may make copies of the will for your records.
Signing a will requires extra care and attention. To get advice from expert estate planning lawyers, please call Certus Legal Group on 07 3106 3016 or contact us using the form on this page.
This article does not give legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended to provide general and summary information on legal topics, current at the time of first publication. You should seek professional legal advice before acting or relying on any of the content contained herein.