How do you legally sign a Will in Australia?
For a Will to be valid in law you need to sign and date each page of your own Will in front of two independent witnesses. Witnesses must not be beneficiaries or family members as this could lead to them being excluded from inheriting under your Will. A couple of friends or neighbours would be perfectly appropriate.
Once you have signed your Will in front of your two witnesses, the witnesses must also sign each page of your Will. Please ensure that the witnesses’ full names and addresses are also added at the end of the Will. Before a Will is signed and witnessed correctly, it is just paper and of no use to anyone! See our step by step guide below for how to sign and have your Will witnessed correctly.
Important – please note:
Sign all pages - If certain pages are not signed it may call into question whether signed pages had been swapped out for replacement unsigned pages that contradict the Will owners intended wishes.
Pen ink counts - It is preferable that Will Owners and witnesses use the same black pen and not multiple pens with different coloured ink! If different pens are used it could call into question whether the Wills were signed and witnessed at the same time.
Do not staple or clip anything to your signed original Will - If staple or clip marks are visible, the court will need to be satisfied that your original Will did not have a Codicil attached that has been removed, which will add a considerable cost to your estate and delay Probate which is granted by the Probate Registry of the Supreme Court. A Codicil is signed and witnessed amendment or addition to your Will.
Destroy or revoke any previous Will! It is also important that you destroy any previous Will you may have to ensure that your executor does not seek a grant of probate with the wrong Will. Alternatively, you can note the revocation of a previous Will by writing on the previous Will something to the effect of ‘Replaced by Will dated <insert date>’.
Step by step guide to signing your Will correctly
In summary, the signing steps for COUPLES are: 1. You and your spouse or partner each sign and date every page of your own Will. Your witnesses must see you sign. You do not sign your spouse or partner’s Will.
2. You each then hand your signed Will to one of your two witnesses.
3. Each witness then signs each page of the Will that has been given to them (at the bottom of the page where indicated in Wills from Will Wizard), making sure to include their full names and addresses on the final page of the Will.
4. Your witnesses then swap Wills with each other and repeat step three by again signing each page of the Will at the bottom where indicated, making sure to include their full names and addresses on the final page of the Will.
5. Pop open a bottle and toast your friends! 🥂
In summary, the signing steps for SINGLES are:
1. Sign and date every page of your Will. Hand your signed Will to either one of your two witnesses. Your witnesses must see you sign.
2. Your witness then signs your Will (at the bottom of the page where indicated in Wills from Will Wizard), making sure to include their full name and address on the final page of the Will.
3. Your witness then hands your Will to your second Witness who repeats step 3 by again signing your Will at the bottom of each page, making sure to also include their full name and address on the final page of your Will.
4. Pop open a bottle and toast your friends! 🥂
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As always, if you have questions about the suitability of any Will for your needs and circumstances, seek independent legal advice.