You did it! You wrote your will. Now you just need to make sure you have a clean final copy. It’s important that your will has no errors or spelling mistakes because any corrections written on the will you sign could invalidate it completely, or require an expensive court hearing for a judge to determine your intent. Here is a list of important things to remember when finishing your will.
1. No cross-outs or corrections written on the will. If it’s necessary, you will need to re-type or re-write a corrected version. If you cross something out it could invalidate it completely.
2. You must print a hard copy. A will that is stored in a computer has no legal significance. If you do not print a hard copy of your will to sign and date, it will not be valid.
3. When you have a clean copy of your final will, you need to sign it to make it legal. This is called executing your will. You should date and sign your will in ink.
4. When signing your will, you must use the name you used at the beginning of your will. If you are James Harold Smith at the beginning of the will, you must sign the will that way, not as James H. Smith or J.H. Smith.
5. In Colorado, you can choose to sign your will in front of two witnesses (self-proving) or you may complete the “Testator Acknowledgment”, where you alone may sign in the presence of a notary. Complete only one of the two acknowledgments in the Last Will and Testament—Forms 39A, 39C and 39T.
To make a will self-proving, you and your witnesses must identify yourselves and sign the will before a notary using a special statutory attestation clause called a self-proving affidavit. The notary will then notarize everyone’s signatures on the self-proving affidavit. Bradford forms include this affidavit. Making the will self-proving greatly decreases the possibility that your will may be contested.
6. Do not make multiple original, executed copies of your will. If you ever wanted to change your will or add a codicil, you would have to find all the originals and modify or destroy them. It could cause a huge legal mess if you have some versions of your will with codicils, some without, and some more recent than others. Make sure you only have one original of your will (whether or not you have modified it with codicils) in existence at a time.
Though it is a good idea to do so, note that you are not required to give a photocopy of your will to anyone, even your personal representative. If you do give a photocopy of your will to anyone you should realize that a photocopy of your will is not a valid will because you or your witnesses did not directly sign it.
For more information and access to usable forms for wills and other estate planning documents, check out our “Colorado Will & Estate Planner ”.