How do I Create a Valid Will?

By Teo Spengler

Will requirements are neither tricky nor confusing. If you follow the procedures mandated in your state of residence, you can create a valid will. Lawyers term wills "creatures of statute" because will requirements depend on state law. Absent a valid will, your property will pass according to intestate rules upon your death, generally to children and spouse or, in their absence, to siblings and parents. Your valid not only selects estate heirs but signals your choice for guardian of minor children as well as will executor.

Will requirements are neither tricky nor confusing. If you follow the procedures mandated in your state of residence, you can create a valid will. Lawyers term wills "creatures of statute" because will requirements depend on state law. Absent a valid will, your property will pass according to intestate rules upon your death, generally to children and spouse or, in their absence, to siblings and parents. Your valid not only selects estate heirs but signals your choice for guardian of minor children as well as will executor.

Step 1

List your assets on scratch paper. Start with real estate holdings, move to bank and investment accounts, vehicles, other investments. List small property items generally as "personal property"; note separately personal property of special monetary or sentimental value.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now

Step 2

List your heirs. Include family, friends and even associations. Select a guardian for any minor children or pets, since they cannot hold money directly. Choose a person to handle your estate during probate, gathering assets and distributing them among your heirs; designate this person your executor on your rough draft.

Step 3

Educate yourself about the basic will requirements in your state. Visit the probate court or the law library to obtain copies of relevant probate statutes. Alternatively, conduct an Internet search. Generally states do not mandate precise or formal will language; most requirements pertain to validating the signature with attesting witnesses.

Step 4

Obtain a statutory form will if your state statutes include one. Alternatively, get a form will from an attorney's office, the Internet or the probate court. Fill in your identifying information (name, address, etc.), then add assets and heirs. Mention the name and address of any guardians and specify your choice for executor.

Step 5

Type out your own will in the absence of a will form. Specify in the first paragraph that you are of legal age and sound mind, together with any other information your state requires. Provide the same information about identification, heirs, assets, guardians and executor. State that this will supersedes all previous wills.

Step 6

Acknowledge, sign and date the will before witnesses in the manner required by your state statutes. Most states require two disinterested witnesses of legal age and sound mind. "Disinterested" means that the witnesses are not among the heirs under your will. The witnesses sign the will below your signature.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now
How to Make Your Own Will

References

Related articles

How to Write a Will in Arizona

Detailing your last wishes and the distribution of your belongings to loved ones in your will helps avoid confusion after your death. The will must be clear to avoid misinterpretation of your directions by the Arizona probate court. Arizona law contains standards that must be met for your will to be admitted to probate, the legal proceedings used to give authority to the executor you named in your will. The executor is the person who will carry out your will's directions, transfer assets and items to your heirs and settle your financial affairs.

How to Go About Making a Will

More than half of Americans don't have a will, according to the American Bar Association. Whether due to fear of death or lawyers' bills, many people procrastinate drafting a last testament. Yet a simple will is the task of a few hours, and proper execution is a matter of minutes -- if you understand the few procedural requirements. Those with large holdings or complicated estates may do better with tax and legal advice.

How to Make a Will with Beneficiaries

A will is a legal document and special vocabulary applies to virtually every step of the drafting process. The document itself is often termed "last will and testament;" the person drafting the will is known as the testator. In a will, the testator makes "devises" or "bequests" her property to selected persons or entities, termed "heirs" or "beneficiaries." Since a central purpose of a will is to name heirs, the process of "making a will with beneficiaries" is neither more nor less than that of making a will.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

How to Prepare a Last Will

A valid will lets you control the disposition of your assets after you die; otherwise, state law distributes your ...

How to Create a Will at Home

So many people procrastinate drafting wills that less than half of American adults have last testaments, according to ...

How to Write a Last Will & Testament

A testamentary will -- redundantly termed a "last will and testament" by lawyers -- is a document stating ...

How to Make a Will Legal for Executor of Will After Death

The executor pilots the last will and testament through probate. She takes charge of the estate of the deceased, files ...

Browse by category