Brooklyn Law Office Blawg

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Brooklyn Law Office Blawg, New York City

Tying a will with red tape

December 21st, 2007 · 1 Comment

One of the most important document fraud protection devices is using “red tape” to tie and seal a legal document. Once the document has been tied and sealed it is virtually impossible to alter the document without destroying it and making such destruction known to anyone who comes into possession of the document.

This method was used since ancient times and is the origin of personal and governmental wax seals, as the seal imprint (made by the seal matrix) indicated that the creator of the document was present at the time the document was tied and seals. The term “red tape” has its origin in the practice of the British government sealing all documents that were sent abroad as part of the administrative superstructure of the British Empire and it is still used today as a term referring to overly bureaucratic procedures.

In order to tie a legal document it is best to have the document, a document cover (with a fold over lip), a length of 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch red ribbon twice the length of one of the pages and twice the width of one of the pages, a wax seal system (modern practitioners of this art use an electric glue gun and faux wax which is a mix of plastic and wax) or standard notarial gummed seals (which can be sealed with an embossed seal). A hole punch and razor blade or artist’s “exacto” knife are also necessary. There are also variations of this method. In the former Soviet Union most notaries use a needle and thread to tie a document along with postage or legal stamps. The ribbon can also be placed on the side of the document, a variation using two holes is possible and it can also be done with one hole and a grommet.

First, decide where you are going to position the seal and ribbon (which will appear from underneath the seal). Make three slits with a razor blade or sharp knife in this blank space. The slits should be diagonal (from the direction the ribbon will be coming from behind the page), about 1/2 ” long, 1/8 ” apart and parallel to each other.

Second, Staple all the will or other pages together approximately 1/8″ from the top of the page (without the cover) with two staples so the top of the page is divided into three sections (one hole will go in each section).

Third, Fold over a half inch to one inch flap on the cover and insert the will pages underneath the flap.

Fourth, Punch three holes across the top through all pages and cover, on in the middle and the second and third holes about one inch from the edge of the papers.

Fifth, Take the piece of ribbon with the ends of the ribbon cut on a diagonal. Insert each end of the ribbon from the back through the two outside holes and tie a double knot directly over the center hole.

Sixth, Pull one strand of the ribbon through the center hole to the back of the document. Run that strand around the ribbon going across the back of the document and then take that strand back through the center hole and pass it to the back of the previously cut signature page. Pass the other strand through the center hole to meet the first strand between the signature page and the cover. Now both strands should be behind the signature page.

Seventh, Holding the both strands of the ribbon at their ends (you can also wrap them in a small piece of scotch tape), pass them through the top slit on the signature page, then back through the center slit and, finally, forward through the bottom slit so that both strands appear on the surface of the signature page.

Eighth, Spread the two ribbon strands apart slightly to form an inverted “V”, and while holding them down affix your seal using a notarial seal or melt sealing wax over the three silts and then imprint a seal using the matrix over the wax before it begins to harden, wait until the wax is dry and then remove the matrix. Using a pair of scisssors you can trim the ends of the ribbon to a proper length.

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Tags: Business law · Estates and Probate · Evidence · Ruminations

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Should you consider avoiding probate? - // Jan 2, 2008 at 11:44 am

    [...] never have old Wills circulating that have not been destroyed and make sure that they are properly tied (with a ribbon and seal). Never allow your lawyer to keep a “copy” of the Will unless this is mentioned in the [...]