How do you “execute” a will?

A will is not legally binding until it has been “executed”.  “Executing” means signing and dating the will in front of two witnesses.  It’s important that all of the following steps are carried out.  Failure to comply with any of the following means that the will would be invalid.

1. Prepare the will.

A physical copy of the will needs to be signed or it is not valid.  A digital or electronic copy will not be legally binding.  Either purchase a printed version of the will from us or print out your will.  Ensure that the pages of the will are all stapled together before you execute it.

2. Choose your witnesses.

A witness should be an adult who is not a beneficiary, is not related to a beneficiary nor is the partner of a beneficiary.  They should also be contactable if the will is challenged in the future.  See our note on who can be a witness.

3. Sign and date the will.

Date the top dotted line of the will.  Then sign the will on the dotted line next to the word “Testator”. Do this in front of the witnesses.  They both need to see you sign and date the will.

4. Witnesses sign and enter their details.

The witnesses need to sign the will under your signature and also enter their full names and addresses in the space provided.

5. Initial each page of the will.

This is not strictly necessary to make your will legal but it is a good way to avoid tampering or accusations that the will has been tampered with.  You and both witnesses should initial the will at the bottom of each page.  This shows that all of the pages initialled were in existence when the will was executed.

Once you have executed the will make sure that you do not unbind it by removing the staples.  Do not add anything to the will. Do not make any further marks on the will.  If you notice a typo or if you change your wishes you should make a new will and execute it again. Do not stick, glue, staple, paperclip or attach anything else to the will in any way.

Finally, make sure the will is safely stored.

Witnessing a will by video

Since the 2020 Pandemic it has been possible to execute wills over a conference call or video link. Treat this option with extreme caution and only use when it is absolutely 100% necessary.