How to Write a Will Yourself

By April Kohl

A will is a necessary part of life if you want to ensure that the people you care about are provided for after your death. If you have cherished possessions and want to make sure they go to a certain someone, mentioning this in your will is the best way of making sure that this happens. Because an attorney can be expensive, knowing how to write a will yourself can be a cost-effective way to prepare for the future.

A will is a necessary part of life if you want to ensure that the people you care about are provided for after your death. If you have cherished possessions and want to make sure they go to a certain someone, mentioning this in your will is the best way of making sure that this happens. Because an attorney can be expensive, knowing how to write a will yourself can be a cost-effective way to prepare for the future.

Step 1

Investigate the requirements for wills in your state. Although some states have subscribed to the Uniform Probate Code, which harmonizes the laws on wills across participating states, as of November 2010, most states have not. Determine the number of witnesses you need, the age requirements for writing a will, and whether there are any requirements as to content. State laws on wills can often be found on the state's court service website.

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Step 2

Write a list of all the assets you wish to leave to your beneficiaries. List assets such as your house, money and any prized possessions. Note down which person is to receive each asset -- or a share in each asset -- by writing his name beside the item in question. This makes it easier to write the will and ensures you do not accidentally leave anything out. Review the list and make any changes as necessary.

Step 3

Choose who will act as your executor and name her on your list. The executor is the person responsible for carrying out your wishes as laid down in your will, so she must be reliable. She is free to refuse the job, or may be unable to carry out her duties when the time comes, so it is a good idea to also choose an alternate executor you know will be comfortable undertaking the role. Check that the person or persons you chose are legally allowed to act as executor under your state's laws.

Step 4

Write the will. Ensure that the structure and presentation of your will reflects all state requirements as to content or format. Some states require typed wills and will not accept handwritten wills, also known as holographic wills. Sign the will before as many witnesses as your state requires. Have your witnesses also sign the will.

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DIY for a Will and Testament

References

Related articles

Do You Have to Be a Lawyer to Write a Will?

You may write your own will in any U.S. state as long as you meet the state's requirements for those who write wills. You do not have to be a lawyer to write a will. However, consulting an attorney before writing your will or having an attorney write your will for you may be helpful, especially if you have a large estate, minor children or any questions about the process.

How to Make Your Own Will

Many people procrastinate making wills because of discomfort with the idea of death, but a well-conceived will brings peace of mind. With a will, you decide who gets your property; the state does not divide your estate according to the general intestate laws. Good testamentary planning can also produce tax benefits for your estate but may require legal advice. Precise procedural requirements for last testaments vary between jurisdictions, but most states accept a written will signed before two impartial witnesses.

Can I Write My Own Last Will & Testament?

At its most basic, a last will and testament is simply a document indicating what you want done with your property, any children or dependents you have, and your remains. Although many people choose to employ an attorney to draft, or at least advise on drafting, their will, this is not required by law. You are free to write your own last will and testament, but there can be problems in doing so.

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