Introduction: How to Tie a Will

Tying a Will is an old-school ceremonial process of estate planning wherein the Will is literally "tied" together with ribbon, just after the signing and notarization.

In addition to providing a special look and sense of formality, tying the Will is an extra security measure that prevents anyone from removing pages, or otherwise tampering with the finished Will.

Tying a Will is a simple, elegant way to show a nod of respect to this important step in a client's life.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials.

In order to tie a Will, you will need the following:

- a fully-executed Last Will and Testament

- a Will cover

- a Will envelope

- a three-hole punch

- a length of ribbon, measuring about 3' long, and 1/4" thick.

- scissors

- an exacto knife

- a seal

- adhesive foil stamps or sealing wax

Step 2: Punch the Holes.

Hole punch the Will.

Fold the top of the Will cover down about 1". Punch holes through both layers of the Will cover, being careful to align it with the Will's holes.

Step 3: Tie the Front Knot.

Take your length of ribbon and thread it through the left and right holes, so that both ends come out in the front. Tie the ends in a double knot over the middle hole. Make sure the ribbon in the back is flat, not twisted.

Step 4: Thread the Will

Take one of the ribbon ends and thread it through the middle hole so that it comes out down the back of the Will cover.

Take the other ribbon end and thread it through the middle hole as well, but pull this one through between the last page of the Will and the Will cover.

Take the end coming out of the back and thread it through the middle hole to join the other ribbon between the last page of the Will and the Will cover. Loop it over the ribbon running along the back, adjusting and flattening it if needed.

Now the Will should look like this.

Step 5: Slice and Seal the Will

When formatting these Wills, make sure to leave space for the cut and seal; at least 2" beneath the final signatures.

Make three slits with an exacto or sharp knife in this blank space. The slits should be approximately 1/2" long, 1/8" apart, and parallel to each other. Use a cutting surface just beneath the last page(s) in order to protect the Will cover and ribbon.

Take both ends of the ribbon and (starting with the top slit) thread them up through the page, back down, and then up again. Both ends should be coming down the bottom of the signing page now. Pull the ribbon so that it is flush with the pages.

Seal the Will. If you are using sealing wax, you would pour it over the slits and ribbon, and then stamp it. I used a seal and an adhesive gold stamp. I stamp the seal first, and then adhere it over the slits. Trim the edges of the ribbon, as they tend to get a little frayed in the tying process.

Step 6: Finishing Up

Now that the Will is tied, it's time to organize it with the client's other estate planning materials.

At the law office of Joan A. Watters, the Will is folded into an envelope, and then put inside the client's estate planning binder along with medical directives, Trust information, or anything else I have prepared. The binder is slipped into a unique tote designed specially as a finishing gift for completed estate plans, and then the package is complete!

If you have additional estate planning queries, please visit my website.