How to Make a No-Frills Will

By Ciele Edwards

By creating a will, you have the power to dictate what happens to your assets after your death. Although contemplating your own demise is never a pleasant experience, proper planning ensures your family and assets are protected when you are no longer around to do the job. If you need to include tax planning information in your will, own a small business or have considerable assets, a simple, no-frills will may not be the most economical choice. If, however, your financial situation is not complex, a simple will is an option. Creating a basic will on your own or with the help of an online legal document provider can also save you hundreds of dollars in attorney fees.

By creating a will, you have the power to dictate what happens to your assets after your death. Although contemplating your own demise is never a pleasant experience, proper planning ensures your family and assets are protected when you are no longer around to do the job. If you need to include tax planning information in your will, own a small business or have considerable assets, a simple, no-frills will may not be the most economical choice. If, however, your financial situation is not complex, a simple will is an option. Creating a basic will on your own or with the help of an online legal document provider can also save you hundreds of dollars in attorney fees.

Step 1

Make a list of your major assets, such as real estate, investments, bank accounts and retirement accounts. Add up the value of all of your assets. The total value of your assets determines whether your estate is tax exempt. The federal estate exemption amount changes regularly. As of 2012, the amount is $5.12M. If the total value of your assets does not exceed the exemption amount, proceed with crafting your will. If your assets exceed this amount, a no-frills will may not be adequate to reduce your estate's tax liability.

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

Step 2

Obtain a will template. Because state laws regarding the information that must be included in a will vary, it's imperative you obtain a will template that follows your state's guidelines. Some states provide these documents to residents free of charge. In California, for example, you can download and print will templates directly from the State Bar of California's website. You can also buy a will template for your state through an online legal document preparation service.

Step 3

Name an executor for your estate. After you die, your executor is responsible for filing an estate proceeding with the probate court, notifying creditors and distributing assets.

Step 4

List each of your assets and indicate who should receive the asset in the event of your death. While most people name immediate family members as the beneficiaries of their estates, consider naming an alternate beneficiary as well. When you die, the executor will distribute your assets to the family members you name. Should your family die together, the executor will distribute the funds to the alternate beneficiary.

Step 5

Name a guardian for your minor children. If you die, the surviving biological parent will generally receive custody of the children. If the surviving biological parent also has died or is unfit, the court must appoint a guardian to raise your children in your stead. If you named a preferred guardian in your will, the court will generally adhere to your wishes.

Step 6

Sign your will. Ask two friends or family members to serve as witnesses. All states dictate that at least two witnesses must be present when you sign the document. Notarize the will if required by your state's law.

Step 7

Put the will in a safe place and tell your executor where to find it. Your will cannot protect your wishes if your executor cannot locate the document after your death.

Step 8

Modify your will as the circumstances in your life change to ensure it remains up-to-date and reflects your current wishes.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now
Legal & Binding Wills

References

Resources

Related articles

Wills in Probate Courts in Michigan

When you create a will, you give directions to the people you leave behind indicating who should manage your estate and who should inherit from you. But the terms of your will are not automatically effective; the court must accept your will before anyone can act under its terms. In Michigan, probate courts oversee the administration of your estate.

Standard Will Vs. Living Will

Planning your estate may involve creating several documents to address your end-of-life care before you die and your property after you die. Two of these documents may be a will and living will. A will directs the distribution of your assets after you die and a living will directs your health care while you are alive.

How Can I Do My Own Will?

Less than half of American adults have wills. One reason for this low figure might be the common perception that wills are complicated and expensive to prepare. Although large and complex estates may require estate-planning services and legal advice, many people with smaller holdings use simple testaments. All jurisdictions accept self-drafted testaments that meet probate requirements. Some states -- such as California -- make it easy for people to draft their own wills by providing a valid form will in the statutes and allowing handwritten wills.

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

Related articles

Last Wills & Trusts

Although few individuals enjoy contemplating death, planning for this unavoidable occurrence allows you to provide ...

Do I Have the Right to Choose Who I Want to Handle My Estate After I Die Even If I'm Not Married?

Whether or not you are married has nothing to do with the ability to choose who will handle your estate when you die. ...

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 ...

How to Write a Will in Nebraska

A will is simply a vehicle for transferring your assets after death. Wills are not appropriate for everyone. For ...

Browse by category