Executing (Signing) & Attesting (Witnessing) a Will

  1. Assemble the Testator, the Will, and all Witnesses (at least two disinterested, competent adults; preferably three or more) in one room, preferably with no one else in it, and close all doors to the room; don’t let anyone leave or enter the room until the process is complete.
  2. Have the Testator pick up the Will and say to the Witnesses, “This is my Will, and I ask you to witness my signing it.”
  3. Have the Testator sign it and then say to the Witnesses, “Please sign your names as witnesses to my Will”, and then hand the Will to the first Witness.
  4. Have all the Witnesses sign and complete the Attestation & Declaration under Penalty of Perjury.
  5. When all the Witnesses have signed and completed the Attestation & Declaration, have the Testator check the Will, to ensure that it bears:
    • The proper date of execution,
    • The proper place of execution,
    • The Testator’s signature,
    • All the Witnesses’ signatures on the Declaration, and
    • All the Witnesses’ printed names and addresses on the Declaration.
  6. When all the foregoing has been verified, have the Testator say to the Witnesses, “Thank you for acting as witnesses to the signing of my Will.”  The Will execution and attestation process is now complete.  If the Testator has other documents to sign (eg, Living Trust, Health Care Directive, Durable Powers of Attorney), this is the time to do it.  Otherwise, the witnesses may now leave and others may enter the room.
  Numbering & Initialing Pages:  Some Testators like to number and initial each page of their Will in their own hand before signing it, reducing the possibility that some evil-doer will get away with substituting a different page into the Will later, changing the Will’s terms, and possibly providing for a major gift to the evil-doer him/herself.  Such numbering and initialing is not legally required and should have no effect on the validity of the Will itself as long as it is kept off to the side of the pages and clearly not intended to add to or change any of the Will’s terms and provisions.
Copies of the Will:

  • Sign only one original of the Will.  Signing multiple original Wills can cause havoc, especially if the Testator later obliterates or destroys one but not all of them and doesn’t sign a later Will revoking all prior Wills.  Was the Testator intending only to dispose of one of the originals and leave the others as valid?  Or was the Testator intending to revoke all of the originals on the presumption that his/her prior Will would be revived or that he/she would have no Will at all?
  • Make as many copies of the one original signed Will as you believe to be appropriate.


  Disposition of the Original Signed Will:

  • A safe deposit box?
  • A secure file?
  • It would be prudent to ensure that the named Personal Representative knows of his/her nomination, consents to serving, and understands where the original signed Will may be found.

Introduction & Initial Decisions

Implementing a Change of Mind Following Will Execution