How to Create Last Will & Testament

By David Carnes

A last will and testament is an important legal document that governs the distribution of your property after you die. Because of their importance and the possibility of fraud, state laws have certain requirements regarding how wills are written and what they must include so that they may be enforced. A well written will can prevent an expensive legal battle over your estate.

Step 1

Title the document "Last Will and Testament." A will must clearly indicate that it is intended to be a will in order to be enforced.

Step 2

State your full name and address and declare that you are at least 18 years old, are of sound mind and memory, that this is your last will and testament and it revokes any previous wills or codicils, and that you are not subject to duress or undue influence with respect to the making of the will. All of these declarations anticipate possible challenges to the enforceability of your will.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Step 3

Name an executor and an alternate executor. The executor is the person who will administer your estate while your assets are being distributed. Choose someone you trust, who is also familiar with your property.

Step 4

Name a guardian and an alternate guardian for your minor children and any other dependent children, if you are the sole surviving parent. Although the court will not be obligated to appoint your nominee, your nomination will be persuasive.

Step 5

Name your beneficiaries and clearly state what property goes to whom. If your estate is extensive, you may need to spend some time compiling an exhaustive list of your assets. Write in such as way as to remove all ambiguity from your language.

Step 6

Name a beneficiary for the residue of your estate. The residue of your estate is any property that you did not mention in the previous step, including any property that you may acquire between the time you draft your will and the time you die.

Step 7

Sign and date your will in the presence of two or three witnesses, depending on state law. The witnesses must sign the will, as well, and must do so in each other's presence.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
How do I Create a Basic Will in Maine?


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 creates the will, known as the testator, must not only clearly state his intended distribution of property, he must also execute the will in legally valid form. Although exact procedures vary from state to state, common features are found in every state. Check the law of your state for exact procedures and have an attorney look over your will before you sign it.

If You Get Divorced, Can You Change Your Name to Something Different From Your Maiden Name?

Changing back to your maiden name after a divorce is a simple process in most states -- simply petition the court to modify the divorce decree. If you wish to change your name to another name, however, you may not rely on your divorce as legal grounds for your name change. Instead, you must commence a separate legal action. Although procedures vary by state, they include certain common features.

How to Make Out a Simple Will

If you have property, you should have a will. This document specifies how your assets should be divided on your death, and helps your heirs avoid a costly and difficult court procedure. Drawing up a will is a fairly simply procedure; you set down a few sections to specify your beneficiaries and bequests, and witness signatures make the document legal.

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

Related articles

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 Make Your Will Legal in Indiana

Your will is a document that explains how to distribute some or all of your property when you die. Wills written in ...

How to Write a Last Will & Living Trust

A last will and testament sets out how your property is to be distributed after your death. A living trust, also known ...

How to Obtain Power of Attorney in Pennsylvania

A power of attorney is a document in which one person, known as the principal, authorizes another person, known as the ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED