How to Sign your Will?

To properly sign your will, you must first select a minimum of two witnesses. Three witnesses must see you sign your will if you live in Vermont and Louisiana. While only two witnesses are required in all other states, it's best to use three, if possible. If for some reason a witness has to be located after you die, there are better odds of finding one if you started with three, rather than two. Your witnesses watch you sign your will, and then sign their names below your signature. You must do this correctly. Unless your will is properly witnessed, it won't be valid.

The witnesses must be competent adults (over age 18) who are not beneficiaries under the Will. This is important because if you leave property to a witness, that person may be disqualified as a witness or even disqualified from inheriting that property. For these reasons, do not select your spouse or any of your children as witnesses. If possible, the witnesses should be people who will be easy to locate upon your death. This usually means the witnesses are people who don't move around a lot and are younger than you.

During the execution of the Will, you, all witnesses, the notary public, and the Will must at all times be present. No one should leave the room, or be out of the sight or hearing of the others. The Will should never be out of the sight of anyone. The proceedings should reflect the gravity of making a will. When you're ready to sign your will, call your witnesses together in one place. They need not read your will and you need not read it to them. However, they must all be aware that you intend the document to be your will. A simple statement to that effect will suffice, i.e. "[T]his is my will and I want you to witness it."

When signing, sign in ink in the same form of your name you used in your will. For example, if you start your will with the name of John H. Smith, sign your will the same way, not in another form, such as "JH Smith" or "John Henry Smith." Once you've signed your will, ask your witnesses to date and sign it in ink with their normal signatures and fill in their names and addresses in the spaces indicated.

You and the witnesses should read the Affidavit which follows the Will and execute and swear to it before the notary public. Inspect the Will and confirm that the date, signatures, and other blanks are properly inserted and legible.

After signing the Will:

Decide where the original Will is to be kept and inform the executor of the location. and deliver it (getting a receipt). Beware of storage in a bank safety deposit box as some states require that they be sealed upon death and retrieval of the Will documents could be difficult. Generally, storage in a fireproof box or some other safe location should be sufficient.

Be sure to let the executor and any alternates know the location of the Will. Remember that, should you desire to change your Will in the future, a formal Codicil or new Will will have to be executed. You should not write on or otherwise attempt to revise the Will.

Remember: Periodically review changes in your life and consider whether you should change your Will.