How To Make Your Will

Make sure that you do your research before you undertake to make your own will.
Make sure that you do your research before you undertake to make your own will. | Source

Wills and estates are tricky things and you should always seek the best legal advice you can get. However, there are many people who do not have any major assets, savings, properties, etc, yet still need to make a will. If you fall in this category, it is useful to know how to make your will.

When it is time to write your will, do the best research you can and proceed with caution. Below is a list of points to guide you in making your own will.

How To Make Your Will

To make a simple will, get a good reference guide (see below for some ideas), and work from there. Remember also, that laws differ from state to state and country to country.


Let's Get Started

Below is a template that you can use to make your will but remember, you can’t go wrong with good legal advice.

1. Fully Identify Yourself

In your will you must include your name, address, social security number (or similar, depending in which country you live in) and date of birth. Make it as easy to identify you as possible.

Example:

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF _John Smith, of 14526 Birch Road, Stevens Point, WI 54481, USA, Social Security Number: 123-45-6789

By being clear in your will it will prevent complications arising later that may require your family going to court.
By being clear in your will it will prevent complications arising later that may require your family going to court. | Source

2. Declare Your Mental Health

You need to state that you are of sound mental health and contractual capacity. If you do not state this clearly, it will be easier to contest your will in court.

Example:

Being of sound mind….

3. Revoke All Previous Wills and Codicils

State that you revoke all previous wills that you have made and all codicils attached to those wills.Add this even if you do not have any previous wills, just in case you forgot about one.

Example:

...hereby revoke all Wills and Codicils previously made by me and declare this to be my Last Will and Testament.

4. Appoint The Executor For Your Estate

The executor of your estate is the person who will distribute the money and assets of your estate. Appoint someone who is trustworthy (see the section on posting bond below) and who is good with money as they will have to settle your debts and outstanding taxes and sell and distribute your assets. You want to appoint the right person for this job as it can create big problems for your family if this person proves to be unreliable.

Example:

I nominate ___________________ to be the executor of my estate…

5. Empower Your Executor To Pay All Your Debts And Expenses

Give the executor express permission to pay all your outstanding debts, taxes and expenses.

Example:

… ;that my executor shall have authority, at the request of my beneficiaries, to borrow money for any purpose connected with the liquidation of my estate and, to that end, may encumber any of the assets of my estate.

6. Should Your Executor Post Bond?

To post bond simply means whether you wish to take out insurance in case your Executor decides to run off with your money and his secretary. You need to decide if posting bond is necessary for your estate (bond can be expensive) as this will only really apply if you have a large estate and lots of assets and then clearly declare this in your will.

Be clear in your will about who gets what.
Be clear in your will about who gets what. | Source

7. State How Your Assets Are To Be Divided Up

You need to declare which of your assets will go to whom. Be as clear as possible about this. Make it clear if you want to give the painting down the hall to one of your kids and your favorite chair to another.

Then, for example, if the rest of your goods are to be sold, declare the percentages of money that your dependants will get. Again, be a clear as possible.

Many people who have few assets choose to leave everything to their surviving spouse and once the spouse passes on the remainder of the estate will go to their child or children. If you choose to go with this option make sure you state this clearly in your will.

Example:

I bequeath the residue of my estate to my spouse.

Should my spouse not survive me for a period of 30 (thirty) days, then I bequeath the residue of my estate to my children.

8. A Residuary Clause

A residuary clause divides everything that is left over among your residuary beneficiaries. This is legalese for saying everything goes into a pot which is then split equally amongst your nominated beneficiaries.

9. Sign Your Will

How you sign your will is subject to state laws (in the United States) and country laws outside of the US.

In general you need to sign at the end of your will and initial each of the pages.In addition to this you will need to have two witnesses to witness the signing.

Example:

SIGNED AT ________________________________ THIS _______ DAY OF _____________________, ___________________

in the presence of the undersigned witnesses, all being present at the same time and signing in the presence of each other.

AS WITNESSES:

1. ________________________________

2. ________________________________

10. Add A Codicil If You Need One

If you need to make any amendments to your will you can do a codicil instead of writing a new will. It is simply an additional page (or more) that is added to your will.

11. Store Your Will

Making a will is of no use if it is lost. Store your will safely and give a copy (or second original) to your Executor. Remember that your will is only opened after your funeral so make your funeral arrangements separately.

12. Update Your Will

Make sure to update your will after any major event in your life (like marriages, divorces, deaths and the selling or buying of major assets). Do not write on your will after it has been signed; do a codicil for minor changes.

Conclusion

The outline in this article is best suited for people with few assets and no likelihood of complications arising. If you have a large estate and need more information you can see the related article: How To Make A Will: What You Need To Know

Alternatively, there are many useful books available that can further serve as guidelines.

Your will is one of the most important documents that you will ever write. Those who survive you (your spouse, children and other dependants’) safety and security depend on this, so it is always best to get professional assistance if you can and special care should always be taken when undertaking to make your own will.

I hope that this hub has been useful to you and that you now have a better idea on how to make your will.

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Comments 12 comments

Angela Brummer profile image

Angela Brummer 4 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

I need to do this so this is great advice and I will share this!


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

Thanks for sharing this info Trinity. I know lots of people searched for ideas and how to make last wills. Yours is very good.


lovedoctor926 4 years ago

Voted up useful.


Chris Hugh 4 years ago

Here are some random thoughts, don't take them as legal advice:

1) A holographic will (one written all in your own hand) might be better than a form (or maybe not, just something to think about)

2) It might be better to just die intestate i.e. without a will (or maybe not, just something to think about)

3) A will might have to go through probate while a trust might not (no guarantees on how that works, this is just something to think about)

4) If you don't have money to go to a lawyer, are you sure you even need a will? Or maybe you do, to dispose of personal property.

5) You might want to give gifts while you're alive rather than willing them. (Or maybe not, just something to think about.)

6) Have you considered the tax implications? I recommend the books by Ed Slott.

I am a lawyer, but I'm not giving legal advice. These are just some things off the top of my head to consider. This was never my area of law. Your mileage may vary. Void where prohited by law. The Internet is probably not the place to go for guidance through the difficult and important area of estate planning.


Trinity M profile image

Trinity M 4 years ago Author

Hi Angela! Glad I could help in a small way. Thank you for stopping by and for sharing, it’s really appreciated.

@unknown spy thank you so much for your very kind comments and for stopping by. :)

@lovedoctor926 thank you for dropping by and for voting up, I appreciate the support.

@Chris Hugh thank you for your extensive feedback. As I mentioned in my article (several times) I am only supplying an outline and in no way condoning not seeking legal advice.

Of course people have many different needs. Obviously someone with many assets and a lot of complicated financial issues will need a proper lawyer to draw up their will. On the other hand, someone who has no issues and no assets can surely make their own will, or even get away with not having a will at all as you mentioned.

Thank you for your professional advice, much appreciated.


ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

You have really helpful advice here. So many people say "I want to do this" and then don't get to it - very important subject!


Trinity M profile image

Trinity M 4 years ago Author

Hi Christy, yes I agree with you, making a will is very important and sometimes we don’t know how to go about it. I was looking around for advice myself and this is how this article was inspired. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your valuable comments.


Trinity M profile image

Trinity M 4 years ago Author

@naimishika this article simple serves as a guide. Each person is responsible for their own will. If you have many assets and complicated estate issues, yes there will be many steps to follow before you can make your will. However, if you do not have a lot of assets this outline will suffice. I have personally checked the above mentioned outline with a lawyer (in my country) and it is 100% fine and will hold up in court after my death. Thank you for stopping by.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

A great topic to write on Trinity M. Making a will should be on the priority list of people with assets which have to go to the legal heirs after the holder's death. To make things easier for the legal heirs as well as avoid them going to court, it is best to make a will. You will be ensuring a lot of peace if you have made a will beforehand.

You have explained the procedure in straightforward terms.

Voted up, interesting & useful.


Trinity M profile image

Trinity M 4 years ago Author

@rajan jolly I am glad to be of some help to others who want to make a will and I’m glad that I have manage to explain everything simply so that everyone can understand it. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your insightful comments and thank you for voting up, etc, it is greatly appreciated.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

Dear Trinity,

Great hub. I needed this advice for I am considering making my will so that there will be NO confusion at my demise. Oh, I voted up, and all but funny on this. I loved it, Trinity. And love your talent. Anyway, I have this child, 36, who in the last few years, has really proven just how LESS she thinks of me, so why am I obligated to leave her anything of my estate? I dont find a law telling me I am bound by blood to leave her nickel. Its a long, sad story. I have an attorney who will help me and as for my three grandkids, I think I will leave the majority of my holdings to them. Is this cool?

Keep up the great work--like this hub.

Kenneth


Trinity M profile image

Trinity M 4 years ago Author

Hi Kenneth, I’m so glad I could help. I’m sorry to hear about your daughter; I hope that you can both reconcile your relationship long before you decide to leave this earth. I’m pretty sure you can leave your estate to anyone you choose but I’m glad you have a lawyer who is sorting everything out for you. Thanks for stopping by and for your support and I hope to see you around for many, many more years to come. :)

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