Can I Write My Own Last Will & Testament?

By April Kohl

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.


When writing your will, it is important to consider who will act as executor. This is a position of great responsibility as the probate court will often appoint this person to distribute your assets according to your instructions. You should therefore appoint someone you trust to do the job with accuracy and also with fidelity.


Each state has its own requirements regarding who can make a will and how it should be presented. Some states allow handwritten wills with signatures and witnesses, while others have allowed them even without a signature. The number of witnesses required also varies from state to state, as does the age at which a person can make a will.

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Wills that do not fulfill all the requirements of the state you were resident in at the time the will was created run the risk of being declared invalid by the courts. Similarly, wills that attempt to dispose of assets not under the control of the deceased, and therefore not under the control of your estate after your death, may be ruled wholly or partially invalid.


Because there are so many pitfalls when it comes time to write your own last will and testament, consulting an attorney in your state can be beneficial. However, if this is not possible or desirable, familiarizing yourself with state regulations and laws on wills will help you avoid any potential problems that could otherwise prevent your will from being accepted in probate court.

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Holographic Wills in Colorado


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How to Break a Will or Probate

Probate is court-supervised administration of a testator's last will and testament. Upon the death of the person making the will, the executor files the will in probate court and begins to gather and inventory estate assets. Although the executor is usually selected by the testator and named in the will, the court reviews the procedure to assure honesty, accuracy and fairness. The court only approves a valid will, so anyone wishing to "break" a will or probate must allege and prove facts making the will invalid.

Illinois Laws on Wills

A valid will can nominate someone to manage your estate and detail how your property should be distributed when you die. In Illinois, wills must comply with the Illinois Compiled Statutes, which address requirements such as the age and mental condition of the person making the will. If your will doesn't meet these requirements, it may be declared invalid, and your estate will be distributed according to state law.

How to Create a Will in Idaho

Wills do not need to contain magic language to be a valid legal document. As long as your will complies with Idaho laws regarding will creation, your will is likely valid. For this reason, a testator -- the person who is drafting a will -- may create his own estate plan without the aid of an attorney. An attorney is, however, useful in making sure you comply with all of Idaho's formalities. Idaho also allows holographic wills -- wills that are written in the testator's own handwriting and signed at the bottom -- which have fewer formal requirements.

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