How to Write a Last Will & Living Trust

By David Carnes

A last will and testament sets out how your property is to be distributed after your death. A living trust, also known as an inter vivos trust, allows you to dispose of your property while you are still alive, as well as after your death. Many people use living trusts to avoid the delays of probate court and to avoid estate taxes.

A last will and testament sets out how your property is to be distributed after your death. A living trust, also known as an inter vivos trust, allows you to dispose of your property while you are still alive, as well as after your death. Many people use living trusts to avoid the delays of probate court and to avoid estate taxes.

Will

Step 1

Create a written inventory of your property, including real estate, personal property, bank account funds, and intangible property such a stocks and bonds.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Step 2

Identify yourself clearly in the first section of your will, and use wording that makes it clear that the document intends to provide instructions for distributing your property after your death. Include your full legal name, your social security number and your current address.

Step 3

State that your will revokes previous wills and codicils, if this is not your first will.

Step 4

Appoint an executor for your estate, along with an alternate. The executor administers your estate while it is in probate. If you have minor children and your spouse is dead, appoint a guardian and an alternate.

Step 5

Instruct the probate court on how to distribute your property. Use your inventory to specifically state which property goes to which beneficiary.

Step 6

Sign and your will in the presence of two or three witnesses and a notary public, depending on state law. The witnesses should also sign and date the will. Present your ID and the witnesses' IDs to the notary public, and have the notary public sign and stamp the will.

Living Trust

Step 1

Draft an introductory paragraph. State your name, address and social security number, and state that you intend the document to create a trust.

Step 2

Identify the assets that you will fund the trust with. They should be assets that are clearly excluded from your will.

Step 3

Appoint yourself as administrator of the trust. You will remain in custody of the trust property and will determine which beneficiaries get what.

Step 4

Name a successor administrator of the trust to take office as soon as you die. Be sure to get permission from your appointee before you name him. If the administrator is an individual, name an alternate administrator as well. A trust can also be administered by an organization such as a bank.

Step 5

Provide instructions on how the successor administrator is to distribute the trust assets after you die. Name your beneficiaries, and specifically state which property goes to which beneficiaries.

Step 6

Sign and date the trust document in the presence of a notary public, and have the successor administrator sign it as well.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
How to Create Last Will & Testament

References

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 example, trusts are becoming increasingly popular as people’s estates become more complex. If you determine that a will is right for you, Nebraska requirements are fairly simple, but must be followed exactly or your wishes may not be observed after your passing.

The Pros & Cons of Making a Will

A will is a written legal document that describes how you would like to distribute your property after you die. However, there are both pros and cons to making a will and whether drafting a will is beneficial to you may depend on your particular circumstances. In addition, there are other estate planning tools that you can use to handle your property following your death, such as creating a living trust. If you do not have a will or other estate planning document in place upon death, your property will be distributed according to your state’s rules.

Last Wills & Trusts

Although few individuals enjoy contemplating death, planning for this unavoidable occurrence allows you to provide clear instructions regarding the distribution of your assets after your death. Estate planning is the area of law that encompasses the practice of creating wills and trusts. Since laws vary between states, it may be best to consult an attorney whose interest and practice focuses on estate planning, particularly if you have a complicated estate.

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

Related articles

How Are Wills Drawn Up?

A will can be drawn up by the testator, or person to whom the will belongs. It can also be drawn up by an attorney. In ...

How to Make Your Own Will Forms

A will is a document that tells a probate court how to distribute the assets of the person who wrote the will -- known ...

How to Write a Will That's Not Expensive

Unless your finances are complex, you may be able to write your own will without the assistance of a lawyer. ...

Do It Yourself Last Wills & Trusts

Last wills and trusts are two ways to distribute your property after you die. A will and a trust may be used together ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED