You Decide

Signing a Will

At PartingWishes.com we have removed the obstacles to writing a Last Will and Testament.  It is convenient, low cost, and simple.  The MyWill™ service steps you through a series of questions in a "wizard" format.  All questions are written in plain language, so you don't have to be a legal expert to create your own Will.  You simply answer the questions, complete the details, and we automatically and instantly format a document that forms the basis of a legal Will, custom-made for your local jurisdiction.

"I used your service to write a Will for my dear wife Christine who passed away this year. The Will was easy to fill out and very straightforward. I never had one problem arise because of the Will."--- Keith Sutton, Surrey, B.C.   Read more testimonials

Below is more information about your Will, including instructions explaining how to sign your Will and make into a legal document as well as information regarding how and when you should update your Will.

 

Structure Of The Will

The Will has the following structure:

  • It identifies the person making the Will (you), otherwise known as the "testator".
  • It revokes (cancels) all previous Wills, to make it clear that this Will replaces any earlier Wills you may have made.
  • It names the personal representative, called the "executor", for your Will.  This is the person who will be responsible for distributing your estate (property) according to the wishes outlined in your Will.
  • It leaves all of your property to your executor in trust. The executor, as the trustee of the estate, is given ownership of all of the property in your estate after you die, but must distribute the property according to the instructions in your Will.
  • It instructs the executor to pay all valid debts, expenses, claims and taxes on your estate.
  • It tells the executor to give your beneficiaries whatever is left in the estate after the debts, expenses, claims and taxes have been paid.
  • It gives the executor certain legal and financial powers to manage your estate, including power to keep or sell property in the estate, to invest cash, and to borrow money.
  • It names one or more people who should take custody of any minor children.

Printing The Will

Before you print your Will, be sure that you turn off the text that your web browser prints by default at the top and bottom of each page.  But leave the printing of page numbers on, or turn it on, because your Will must at least contain page numbers on each page for it to be a legal document.

For example, if you use Microsoft Internet Explorer select "File" / "Page Setup..." and delete all of the codes that appear in the Headers and Footers sections.  Then enter "&p" into the Footer section to print the current page number at the bottom of each page.

If you use Netscape, select "File" / "Page Setup...", click on the "Margins & Header/Footer" tab, and set all of the Headers & Footers options to "--blank--".  Then change the bottom "Center:" option to "Page #" to print the current page number at the bottom of each page.  If you don't see these options, then you are probably using an older version of the Netscape browser, in which case you should remove all of the checkmarks in the Headers and Footers section except for "Page Number".

Other web browsers will have similar options.  If you require more information, check the help documentation for your web browser.

You print your Will by clicking "View or Print your Will" from the main menu of the MyWill™ service and selecting "File" / "Print..." from the window which appears.

 

Signing The Will

In order to make the Will a legal document, you should first print it and read it thoroughly. Make sure that it accurately reflects your wishes and that you understand everything that is contained in the document. Once you are happy that it reflects your wishes, you must sign your Will in the presence of at least two witnesses (three in some jurisdictions), and these witnesses must also sign the Will, in the presence of the "testator" (yourself) and in the presence of each other. You and the witnesses should also initial each page, so that it is not possible to alter any pages after the Will has been signed. A witness cannot be a beneficiary of the Will, they cannot be the spouse of a beneficiary (at the time of signing), they cannot be a minor, and, like the "testator" (you), they must be of sound mind.

For the signing procedure, gather the witnesses together in a room. You should make a formal statement that you have gathered them to witness the signing of your Will. They do not have to read the Will or know its contents. They are only required to witness your signature.

You should initial each page in turn, and then sign your name in full on the last page, in full view of the witnesses. Each witness then in turn initials each page and signs the last page. Everybody must stay present until all of the signing is complete. Each witness should write their address alongside their signature, print their name below, and then add the date.

There should only be one original of the Will for everyone to sign. Copies can be created by photocopy. It is therefore a good idea to sign the original in blue ink, so that it is easily distinguishable from the photocopies. Do not sign the photocopies, as this will create duplicate originals which can be difficult to administer.

Store your printed document in a safe place, and keep it stored here at PartingWishes.com so that you can make updates easily in the future.

If you live outside of the United States, Canada, England and Wales (or are a resident of Louisiana in the United States, or of Quebec in Canada), you should use this document in preparation for a meeting with an attorney who can draft a legal Will. This legal Will must be signed and witnessed according to the laws in your local jurisdiction. If you are in Quebec, you can consider downloading a Quebec Will Kit from QuebecWillKit.ca.

 

Affidavit

After you have passed away, the executor of your Will must prove that your Will was signed properly. In order to do this, at least one of the witnesses must confirm under oath that the Will was signed and witnessed correctly, including confirmation that they were personally present, that the person who executed the Will is known to that witness, that the Will was executed at the place and on the date specified, and that all witnesses and the testator were of legal age.

If none of the witnesses can be located, or if they are no longer living at the time of probate, the validity of the Will can still be proven by a witness who can testify that the handwriting and signature of the testator are genuine.

Another more convenient approach, however, is to have the witnesses sign under oath (in the presence of a Notary Public) an "affidavit of execution" which can then be appended to the Will. This is an optional step, but it eliminates the need for the witnesses to testify in court at the probating of the Will. If you wish to do this, you should contact a Notary Public in your area and have one of your witnesses accompany you with your Will to swear under oath that the signing of the Will was conducted correctly.  Notary Publics can be found in your local telephone directory or "yellow pages".

If you live outside of the United States, Canada, England and Wales (or are a resident of Louisiana in the United States, or of Quebec in Canada), you should obtain legal advice to ensure that you Will is signed and witnessed according to the laws in your local jurisdiction.

 

After The Will Is Signed

After the Will is signed you must keep the original and all copies in a safe place, and let your executor know where the original is stored. This can be done through the PartingWishes.com MyMessages™ service if you want to ensure that your executor or particular family members remember where your Will is located, or if you are reluctant to disclose the location of your Will prior to your death.  The MyFuneral™ service also allows you to document the location of your Will.

Although the unsigned version of your Will stored online at PartingWishes.com is not a legal document, if you wish you can allow one or more of your designated "Keyholders®" to have access to the Will that you have created here at PartingWishes.com.

 

Assigning Keyholders®

You should use the MyKeyholders™ service to assign one or more personal "Keyholders®" to your MyWill™ service.  A "Keyholder®" is someone that you decide to trust with the power to unlock your wishes when the time is right.  Each Keyholder® is assigned a private, secure, randomly-generated "Keyholder® ID" which they will use to login and access your wishes when it is eventually required.

You can designate up to 20 different Keyholders® and you can even specify, for each Keyholder®, what specific information they can unlock.  In particular, you should give at least one of your Keyholders® the power to unlock and access your Will after you have passed away.  In addition to close friends or family members, it is a good idea to ensure that your executor is a Keyholder® for your MyWill™ service. This could be particularly important if your legally signed copy cannot be located (for example, if it burned in a house fire). In this situation, your PartingWishes.com Will can still provide some guidance to a loving family, as they can understand how you wanted your property to be distributed.

With a valid Keyholder® ID, your Keyholder® can access information such as your Will, health care directives or funeral wishes from anywhere in the world after you have passed away.  Security mechanisms to prevent unauthorized premature access to your wishes are also available and are fully configurable by you.  These are described in more detail in the help text associated with the MyKeyholders™ service.

You must also let your designated Keyholders® know that you are asking them to take on the important responsibility of unlocking your Will when the time is right.  At the very least, they need to know their Keyholder® ID and the web address of the PartingWishes.com web site.  You can choose to do this yourself.  However, to make this very easy for you, we recommend that you let us notify your Keyholder® for you.  There are 2 options:

  1. We can send them an email, customizable by you, which contains all of the information they need to know.  This is a free service.
  2. We can send them a custom-made wallet card by postal mail which contains all of their important information.  There is a small charge for this service, but it has the advantage of providing a permanent physical record which can be kept by your Keyholder® with their own important documents for easy retrieval.  This option is also handy if your Keyholder® doesn't have a known email address or if you have decided to share a single Keyholder® ID with more than one person.

More information on creating and notifying your Keyholders® can be found in the MyKeyholders™ service.

 

Updating Your Will

Your Will comes into effect only after your death and is strictly confidential until that time. Throughout your life, your are free to update your Will as often as you like, either by making an amendment, or by drafting a new Will. An amendment to an existing will is called a "codicil" and must follow the same form and structure of a full Will (i.e. it must be properly signed and witnessed). Consequently, writing a codicil is not usually much of a shortcut. In fact, it can lead to significant confusion.

It is strongly recommended that if you wish to make changes to your Will, that you create a new Will and revoke all previous Wills. Each time you modify your existing Will stored here at PartingWishes.com, the MyWill™ service does just that --- it produces a new Will that revokes all of your previous Wills.

Not updating a Will can be as bad as not having a Will at all.  Even if you feel that there have not been many changes in your life, your Will should be reviewed every year on a routine basis.

Beyond the routine reviews of your Will, you should consider updating your Will in the following circumstances:

  • If somebody named in your Will dies
  • If a major asset is purchased or sold
  • If you remarry, separate, divorce or cohabit
  • If you move to a new province/state or country
  • If your executor or alternate executor no longer wish to serve
  • If any new children are born, adopted, or pass away
  • If any person named in your Will becomes seriously ill
  • If your children reach the age of majority
  • If you wish to change some beneficiaries
  • If you wish to redistribute your property in a different way

 

After You Die

After you die and your Will has been located, your executor will apply for "probate" in your local jurisdiction. This process confirms that the Will being presented to the court is the most recent, official copy of your Will, and your executor will be appointed by the court to administer your estate.

When your executor applies for probate, at least one of the witnesses will be required to confirm that he or she was actually a witness to the signing of your Will and that the correct legal formalities were followed. This evidence is usually in the form of an "affidavit", where the witness swears under oath that everybody was present at the signing. This affidavit can be signed at the same time the Will is signed, or when the Will is probated. If, at the time of probate, none of the witnesses are living, or none of the witnesses can be located, then the veracity of the signing procedures can be confirmed by authentication of the signatures.

There is plenty of official literature available to your executor to describe the process they need to follow after your death. If your executor is also a PartingWishes.com "Keyholder®" for your MyWill™ service, then they will also have access to specific step-by-step instructions which are made available to them at this web site when they login to retrieve your Will.