ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Do Your Own Will For Free

Updated on February 22, 2012

The last thing that most of us want to think about is what will happen to all of our possessions when we pass away. Sadly though, thousands of people die each year without the benefit of a legal will. This issue can add enormous stress to an already grieving family who must then tangle with state probate courts over assets and possessions which should rightfully remain with the deceased’s survivors. These legal battles are often costly, time consuming, and many times ruled in favor of the state over the family.

Despite what most people believe, preparing your own last will and testament is not very difficult and can be accomplished rather quickly. In fact, unless you are a business owner or have special tax considerations, you really should consider making your own will versus paying expensive legal fees. Lawyers generally start out by using a generic will template that can be obtained by anyone. State laws and Last Will and Testament form templates are freely available on many Internet sites making the task easy with just a little research. I have listed a few resource links below to help you get started. The most important thing is to check your individual state laws and guidelines for preparing a will. With just a little preparation you will know how to make your own will for free.

State Laws and Legal Wills

Each state within the United States has its own specific laws and criteria for what constitutes a legal and binding will. All states stipulate that the person making the will be of legal age (18 and over) and be in a sound state of mind. This means that if you are being treated for any type of mental (and sometimes psychological) illness, you should contact an attorney before making your will. These facts must be attested to when drawing up the will. Also, it is a requirement to have witnesses present to sign the document once it is completed. Here again, states differ on witness requirements. Most states want at least two witnesses, whereas a few allow for only one. Also, depending on the state, the witnesses may need to be individuals with no vested interest.

States can be very specific when it comes to how the will is produced. For instance, Florida and Colorado require that all wills be typed or printed from a computer to be considered valid. States such as Louisiana and Kentucky allow for handwritten wills as long as they contain the information required by state law. The majority of states do not recognize oral type wills, but a few will under certain circumstances. Primarily, oral wills are reserved for deployed military members and merchant mariners. In any event, wills do not have to contain a lot of legal jargon, but rather simply state what your desires are for your possessions, as well as the custodial wishes for any minor children under your care. You can use just about any generic will template to make your own will for free, just adapt it to your specific needs.

What Should Be In a Will?

What you decide to put in your will is strictly up to you. However, there are a few things which you want to make sure you designate. There have been countless numbers of families that have been needlessly ripped apart by the death of a loved one and the squabbles that ensue from inheritance issues. These problems can largely be avoided when you take the time to prepare your own will.

Here are a few items you want to make sure you spell out in your will:

  • Identifying information is a crucial part of any will. There should be no doubt as to who the will is for. You should include your full name to include any suffixes, your social security number, date of birth and current physical address.
  • Designate someone you trust to be the executor of your will. This person will be responsible for making sure your final instructions regarding your estate are carried out like you intended, so they need to be competent.
  • If you have any minor children, make sure you appoint a guardian to take care of them in the event of your death. You should make sure you revise your will as your children reach legal age.
  • If you own a home or other real estate property, be sure to stipulate whether you want the property to go to a specific person or organization, or be liquidated (sold) with the proceeds divided among your designees.
  • It is also important to designate, by name, any person or organization you want to receive any high dollar value items or heirlooms.
  • Monetary assets should be designated by percentages to the recipients. If you want your spouse to get all the money in your bank account, then list them at 100%. If you want to split it between two children, then show it as “child 1 - 50%, child 2 - 50%” and so forth.

When to Have a Lawyer Prepare Your Will

As easy as it is to complete a simple will on your own, there are instances where this type of will won’t be adequate. If you happen to be a business owner with a lot of assets in addition to your personal estate, then more in-depth legal concerns call for the advice from an attorney. Also, if you are leaving behind a sizable inheritance, then there may be estate taxes or inheritance taxes that will need to be considered. Basically, if you see any type of special financial concerns for your beneficiaries, then you need to seek the expertise of a lawyer who specializes in your situation.

Summing It Up

I am not an attorney, nor am I attempting to give any specific legal advice. This article is intended to offer information on how easy it is to actually make your own will for free. By all means, if you feel more comfortable having a lawyer prepare your will, then do so. The bottom line is everyone needs to have a will. You owe it to yourself and your family to ensure that everything you have worked so hard for in this life is properly handled and designated once you pass away.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • tipstoretireearly profile image

      tipstoretireearly 

      7 years ago from New York

      Good advice for many people who have put off this important but sobering task.

    • GAbaptist profile imageAUTHOR

      GAbaptist 

      7 years ago from Alaska

      Thanks for reading Joshuad. It is amazing how many people put off making a will until it is too late. It can really cause a lot of needless problems for a family.

    • Joshuad profile image

      Joshuad 

      7 years ago from The World Of Making The Assumed Impossibilities Possible.

      This so informative, I can't believe how easy it is make such a Will. I need to start making a decision about it.

      Thanks for sharing.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)