Your Will has been drafted and you’re finally happy with it. What now? There’re three things to consider.
- Signing requirements for your Will
Once you’ve read through your Will and completely satisfied that it accurately reflects your wishes, the next step is to sign it. So how do you sign your Will? Before you pick up the closest pen and scrawl your mark, be aware of the following requirements.
- You must sign your Will in the presence of two witnesses. You can’t sign it, then later ask your witnesses to sign it. The whole purpose of being a witness is, well, to witness. They need to witness that you did, indeed, sign your Will, your signature wasn’t fraudulent, you knew what you were doing and were not intoxicated at the time of signing, and you weren’t under any duress or in any way pressurised by someone to sign it against your wishes.
- The following people must not sign your Will as a witness:
- Anyone who is under the age of 14 years
- Anyone who is not of sound mind or incompetent to give evidence in court
- Anyone named as a beneficiary in your Will
- Anyone named as an heir in your Will
- Anyone who is married to a person named as an heir or beneficiary in your Will
- You must sign every page of the Will, not just the last page. While your witnesses are legally required to sign only the last page, it is recommended that they sign every page nonetheless.
- Make sure that you sign the last page just under the end of the wording itself, without leaving too much of a space between the wording of the Will and your signature.
- Storing your Will for safe-keeping
Now that your Will is signed, what do you do with it? There are institutions that offer a safe-keeping service, often for a fee. But you’re not obliged to use them. The main thing is that your original Will should be stored in a safe place and be easily accessible by your loved ones. It is also advisable to:
- Tell your loved ones that you have signed a Will
- Inform your loved ones (especially your executors) where your original Will has been stored so that they can find it when it is eventually needed
- You could consider scanning a copy of your Will into your computer and/or making certified copies, and giving copies to people you trust. While copies of Wills are not generally valid, they have been known to be accepted on very good cause shown.
Of course that isn’t where it ends. Because Life happens, and your circumstances may change. Marriages, divorces, births and deaths are generally the major events that cause people to re-evaluate their Wills. But it’s generally advisable to review the contents of your Will from time to time and make sure that it still reflects exactly what you want. You can either make changes to your Will with a codicil (which amends your existing Will) or you can replace your entire Will with a new one. A new Will is often a “cleaner” option, as a codicil could add unintended ambiguities.
Please note that this information is supplied for general information and does not constitute legal advice. It is advisable for you to contact a legal practitioner for guidance in respect of your unique requirements.