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.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

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.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
How Can I Do My Own Will?

References

Related articles

Can a Person Write Their Own Will & Then Have It Notarized?

In this age of technology, writing out a will by hand may not be the norm, but it is a perfectly acceptable alternative to typed or printed wills. The key to making an effective handwritten will is knowing your state laws regarding whether witnesses are required and, if so, how many.

How to Go About Making a Will

More than half of Americans don't have a will, according to the American Bar Association. Whether due to fear of death or lawyers' bills, many people procrastinate drafting a last testament. Yet a simple will is the task of a few hours, and proper execution is a matter of minutes -- if you understand the few procedural requirements. Those with large holdings or complicated estates may do better with tax and legal advice.

Is a Hand-Written Notarized Will Legal?

Your will can direct the distribution of your property after your death, name someone you trust to manage your estate and even nominate a guardian for your minor children. But your will can't do any of that if it isn't valid in your state. Generally, a handwritten will is just as legally valid as a typed or printed will as long as it meets your state's standards.

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

Related articles

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 ...

How to Write a Last Will

Fewer than half of American adults have a last will and testament, according to the American Bar Association. One ...

How to Make Your Own Legal Will

It is not that hard to cook up a legal will. Take one testator, over the age of 18 and of sound mind. Add a good dose ...

How do I Create a Valid Will?

Will requirements are neither tricky nor confusing. If you follow the procedures mandated in your state of residence, ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED