How to Make Out a Simple Will

By Tom Streissguth

If you have property, you should have a will. This document specifies how your assets should be divided on your death, and helps your heirs avoid a costly and difficult court procedure. Drawing up a will is a fairly simply procedure; you set down a few sections to specify your beneficiaries and bequests, and witness signatures make the document legal.

If you have property, you should have a will. This document specifies how your assets should be divided on your death, and helps your heirs avoid a costly and difficult court procedure. Drawing up a will is a fairly simply procedure; you set down a few sections to specify your beneficiaries and bequests, and witness signatures make the document legal.

Step 1

Begin your will with a heading. The traditional phrase is “Last Will and Testament.” Center the heading and make it prominent. Number the paragraphs to follow, and initial or sign each page at the bottom.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Step 2

Write a declaration of your name and address, and state that you are of sound mind and of legal age -- 18 in most states -- to make out a will. Add any titles or other names by which you may be known and identified. State that you are making out the will on your own initiative and are not under duress.

Step 3

Name your executor -- the person responsible for carrying out the will after your demise. Name an alternate who will take on this function if your executor is unable or unwilling to carry out this task. Name a legal guardian for your minor children, if you have any. Failure to name an executor and guardian could mean delay and expense for your heirs.

Step 4

Name your beneficiaries -- the individuals or groups that will inherit your assets by the terms of the will. You are free to name any beneficiaries you wish, but the laws of the state may determine if your spouse and children can inherit if you do not name them in the will; in addition, a contest of the will in probate will mean considerable delay, public wrangling and expense.

Step 5

List all assets that are not specifically assigned to named beneficiaries. This means your money, investments, property, businesses and any other personal belongings. Omit such things as life insurance policies that already have assigned beneficiaries.

Step 6

Name all specific bequests -- the property that you want passed on to beneficiaries you name. After your bequests, you may state that the remainder of the estate should pass to named beneficiaries, to be divided equally or in any proportion you wish.

Step 7

Detail your desired funeral arrangements if you haven't taken care of this already and wish to explain your wishes in the will.

Step 8

Sign the will in the presence of at least two witnesses and include their printed full names and addresses underneath their signatures. The witnesses might not be able to be beneficiaries of the will, depending on your state's laws. Their signatures must be dated.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
How to Make Your Own Will Forms

References

Related articles

How to Create a Will in Kansas

The process of creating a will is largely one of making decisions as to what you want to happen to your property after your death. However, each state has certain guidelines regarding what makes a will legal. In Kansas, there is no minimum age to make a will, but you must possess “rights of majority” if you are younger than 18 years of age, such as if you are married or legally emancipated from your parents.

How to Create Last Will & Testament

A last will and testament is an important legal document that governs the distribution of your property after you die. Because of their importance and the possibility of fraud, state laws have certain requirements regarding how wills are written and what they must include so that they may be enforced. A well written will can prevent an expensive legal battle over your estate.

How to Execute a Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament is a document used to distribute the property after the property owner dies. The person who creates the will, known as the testator, must not only clearly state his intended distribution of property, he must also execute the will in legally valid form. Although exact procedures vary from state to state, common features are found in every state. Check the law of your state for exact procedures and have an attorney look over your will before you sign it.

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

Related articles

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 ...

How to Make My Own Will Free of Charge

Writing your own will is a process that does not need to cost money. If you have limited assets and straightforward ...

How to Write a Will in Wyoming

A will is a legal document that transfers your assets upon death. A person who makes a will is called a testator; the ...

What to Include in a Last Will & Testament

While you will enjoy unlimited freedom to revise your last will and testament during the course of your lifetime, any ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED