How Can I Make My Own Will Legal?

By Teo Spengler

A valid will assures you that, upon your death, your property passes as you direct -- not according to government statutes. In most states, your choice of heir is unrestricted, although a few jurisdictions require provision for minor children. While most states do not mandate specific language to validate a will, they do vary on exact procedural requirements for last testaments. The general requirements include an of-age testator (18 or older), clear testamentary intent and two inscribing witnesses. Refer to the specific laws of your state and consider consulting a lawyer to ensure your will meets the jurisdictional requirements for legality.

Step 1

Verify that you are old enough to make a will in the jurisdiction and that you have met all other qualifications. Generally, testators must be residents of the state and of sound mind.

Step 2

Review your will. Assure yourself that it lists all of your assets and designates beneficiaries for each. Check to see that you named a guardian for your minor children, if any, and appointed an executor, charged with gathering and distributing your property. Note whether you named a residual beneficiary -- the person who will inherit anything not specifically bequeathed in the will. Check for will language stating that this will supersedes all prior wills.

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Step 3

Research the witness requirements for a last will and testament in your state. (Most states require the will be signed before two impartial witnesses.) You can usually find this information on your state's website.

Step 4

Affirm your testamentary intent and sign and date your will before the correct number of witnesses. The witnesses must be of-age, of sound mind and impartial -- not heirs under the will they are witnessing. Will signatures generally do not need to be notarized.

Step 5

Check with a lawyer if you have questions or doubts about the validity of your will or special estate issues.

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