How to Make Out a Simple Will

By Tom Streissguth

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.

Step 1

Begin your will with a heading. The traditional phrase is “Last Will and Testament.” Center the heading and make it prominent. Number the paragraphs to follow, and initial or sign each page at the bottom.

Step 2

Write a declaration of your name and address, and state that you are of sound mind and of legal age -- 18 in most states -- to make out a will. Add any titles or other names by which you may be known and identified. State that you are making out the will on your own initiative and are not under duress.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Step 3

Name your executor -- the person responsible for carrying out the will after your demise. Name an alternate who will take on this function if your executor is unable or unwilling to carry out this task. Name a legal guardian for your minor children, if you have any. Failure to name an executor and guardian could mean delay and expense for your heirs.

Step 4

Name your beneficiaries -- the individuals or groups that will inherit your assets by the terms of the will. You are free to name any beneficiaries you wish, but the laws of the state may determine if your spouse and children can inherit if you do not name them in the will; in addition, a contest of the will in probate will mean considerable delay, public wrangling and expense.

Step 5

List all assets that are not specifically assigned to named beneficiaries. This means your money, investments, property, businesses and any other personal belongings. Omit such things as life insurance policies that already have assigned beneficiaries.

Step 6

Name all specific bequests -- the property that you want passed on to beneficiaries you name. After your bequests, you may state that the remainder of the estate should pass to named beneficiaries, to be divided equally or in any proportion you wish.

Step 7

Detail your desired funeral arrangements if you haven't taken care of this already and wish to explain your wishes in the will.

Step 8

Sign the will in the presence of at least two witnesses and include their printed full names and addresses underneath their signatures. The witnesses might not be able to be beneficiaries of the will, depending on your state's laws. Their signatures must be dated.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
How to Make Your Own Will Forms


Related articles

How to Make My Own Will Free of Charge

Writing your own will is a process that does not need to cost money. If you have limited assets and straightforward child custody plans or no minor children, making your own will free of charge may be an option for you. If you have a complex financial portfolio or your children will require special care or financial arrangements, however, you may wish to speak to an experienced attorney in your state about the details of your will.

How to Avoid Probate With a Hand Written Will

Wills come in several different packages, but they all have the same purpose -- to identify who will inherit your property when you die. Handwritten wills, termed holographic wills, are valid in some states, but only if executed according to state law. While the type of will you choose will not help you avoid probate, methods exist to accomplish that end.

How to Write a Will and Assign a Legal Guardian in California

California wills are governed by the California Probate Code. California law imposes restrictions on the format of a valid will, and a probate court will discard it if these requirements are not met. Although you may nominate a guardian for your minor children, the probate court may refuse to appoint your nominee if it determines that the appointment would not be in the best interests of the child.

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 ...

Estate Law on Heirs

The term "heir apparent" is sometimes used to signify the person chosen to succeed the boss in a business, but this ...

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 ...

How do I Create a Basic Will in Maine?

If you are a resident of Maine, unless you create a will, your assets will be distributed after your death according to ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED