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» How to Write Your Own Will

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Update your will periodically to be sure things are in good order .... just in case!
Update your will periodically to be sure things are in good order .... just in case!

Writing a last will and testament can be very difficult, particularly if you have a lot of property to dispose of.

However, if you plan to bequeath all of your possessions to one person and if you don’t have children to care for, it is possible to write your own will without the assistance of a lawyer. Dying with out a will means you are "intestate" at your death, which can make things complicated for your heirs.

Taking at least a few minutes to write out a will could save your loved ones untold weeks or months of pain and grief should the worst case scenario happen! Simply follow these steps to make sure that your last will and testament is legally binding. You can also purchase last will and testament forms that you simply fill in.

But if you want a free last will and testament, follow these steps.

  1. At the top of the will, you’ll need to identify yourself. You want to put enough information so that there’s no question about who you are. List your full name and maiden name, your social security number, birth date, and current address. This way, there can be no question that this is your will and not someone else’s.
  2. In the first paragraph, you need to:
    • State that this is your last will and testament.
    • State that you are revoking any other wills or codicils that were previously made. Even if you didn’t make any, make sure to include this statement. Otherwise, there may be delays in processing your will while the lawyers look for an older one.
    • State that you’re of sound mind and under no duress when writing your will.
  3. In the second paragraph, list your spouse and children. If your children are under 18 and you have no spouse, you will need to designate someone to take care of them. It’s a good idea to ask your designated person first!
  4. In the third paragraph, appoint an Executor for your estate. This person will handle your estate, including paying off your debts and funeral costs and disposing of any property that you don’t otherwise bequeath. The funds will be divided among your beneficiaries. States have varying requirements for who is qualified to be an Executor. In most cases, he or she needs to be a resident of the state and age 18 or older, but it’s a good idea to check your state’s laws to make sure that your choice is legal. You can also designate a payment to be made to the Executor if you wish.
  5. List the people you want to give to and the percentage of the money they should receive. Make sure to fully identify the person; there are a lot of Mary Smiths in the world. Make sure that the percentages add up to 100%.
  6. Designate a person to receive any other assets remaining in the estate. This way, you insure that everything has a home.
  7. The laws on last will and testament signatures vary depending on the state, so check on that too. Generally, you’ll have to sign in the presence of two witnesses and a notary republic. These people can’t be related to you, and they can’t be listed in the will. They should also be at least age 18.
  8. Carefully store the will, and give a copy to your Executor to make it as easy as possible for them to do their job.

By following these steps carefully, you should have a valid last will and testament. However, these recommendations are not to be taken as legal advice, and you may want to consult a lawyer if you have special circumstances not covered in the above tips.

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