How to Execute a Last Will and Testament

By David Carnes

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.

Step 1

Type out your will. A handwritten will, known as a holographic will, is not accepted as valid in many states. In addition, ambiguities in your handwriting have the potential to trigger disputes.

Step 2

Confirm, in the text of your will, that you are at least 18 years old and mentally competent. Initial the blank space to the left or right of this paragraph in your own handwriting.

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Step 3

Select the executor of your will and name him in the text of your will. It is best to select an executor who is not named as an heir in your will. You might choose to select a backup executor should the first named executor is unable to perform the duties.

Step 4

Number each page of the will and initial the upper-right-hand corner of every page in your own handwriting. This makes it difficult for anyone to add, remove or replace pages.

Step 5

Select two or three people to witness the signing of your will (the exact number varies from state to state). None of the witnesses should be heirs or beneficiaries to your estate.

Step 6

Create a signature line with your full name typed underneath the line. Create similar signature lines for the people you have chosen to witness the signing of your will.

Step 7

Sign and date the will on the signature line, in your own handwriting, in the presence of your witnesses. Have the witnesses sign and date the will in the presence of a notary public and have the notary public stamp and sign the will. Everyone must present a government-issued photo ID to the notary public. Although notarization is not required in most states, it helps avoid disputes over the validity of signatures.

Step 8

Deliver your will (the original document, not a photocopy) to your executor for safekeeping or put it in a safe deposit box and authorize your executor to access the safe deposit box.

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How to Make Your Own Will Forms


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How to Add a Page to My Last Will & Testament

As you age, your priorities or circumstances often change and you decide to revise some provisions of your will. One way to add a page to your will would be to revoke the current will and write a completely new will. However, this can be inconvenient and costly, -- and it might not be necessary. You can often include additional property or beneficiaries in your will by adding an amendment called a codicil. Another option is to add a personal property memorandum, which is used to dispose of tangible personal property that is not specifically disposed of in the will.

Can You Make Someone an Executor in a Will Without Going Through a Lawyer?

When you write a will, you need to name an executor. An executor is the person responsible for carrying out your final directions and wishes regarding your property and belongings. The person you name as executor should be trustworthy and responsible, as she'll have to manage your entire estate. You don't need a lawyer to make a will or to name an executor. You also don't have to ask a person for permission before naming her as executor in your will, although it is in your best interest to do so. If your chosen executor decides she doesn't want the responsibility after you die, the court will have to find another person to manage your estate. The lack of an executor will delay probate, the court proceedings necessary to settle your last affairs. A probate delay may financially affect your loved ones if they're relying on money from your estate to pay bills.

How to Make a Will Legal for Executor of Will After Death

The executor pilots the last will and testament through probate. She takes charge of the estate of the deceased, files the will in probate court and administers the property through distribution. The probate court supervises the executor's actions -- from the time the will is filed in probate until final distribution of assets to heirs -- to assure honesty and accuracy. A valid will is a legal will. To provide a legal will for the executor after your death, draft and execute your will according to state requisites.

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