Writing one’s own will is a fairly simple procedure if your property and bequests are uncomplicated. As long as you stay within the regulations of your state of residence, your last will and testament will almost certainly stand up in court and be carried out in accordance with your wishes.
If your affairs are complicated, you should engage a full-service law firm to be sure the work is complete and done well. If you’re not sure, check out the website of such a firm like Romano & Sumner.
You can write one up by yourself on a computer or, easier still, use an online program. Online programs are inexpensive and have the advantage that they can be selected for your special desires and to meet the requirements of your state.
Here are the basics:
First of all, write the introduction. Label the document clearly at the top “Last Will and Testament.” Just below that, write your full name and address. State that you are over 18 years of age, of sound mind, and that you are not creating the will under duress. Write that this is your last will and testament and that this document revokes any previous will you may have written. An online program will generate this introduction for you in proper legal language.
For clarity, you might want to include your date of birth and social security number.
Select the executor
Second, choose an executor. This is the individual who will carry out your wishes as per your will. Many married couples designate the surviving spouse as executor. Others name a close friend or one of their children. Be sure to discuss this with whomever you choose first before naming that person as executor. You should also select an alternate just in case your first choice is unwilling or becomes unable to perform the required duties.
Identify your heirs
Your spouse, life partner and children are normally the primary beneficiaries, but you may include others as well if you wish. Be certain you clearly and unambiguously identify each one. You may want to exclude certain individuals as well. In most states, the spouse has the legal right to inheritance, so seek out professional advice if you intend to cut someone out of your will.
Name a guardian
If you have any minor or dependent children who have no other natural parent to take care of them, you should choose a person to take care of them until they reach 18. If you do not choose a person, the court will appoint one for you.
Assess and divide your property
List all of your assets such as real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, bonds and tangible assets. Assign each of your heirs a percentage of your total assets.
Sign the will. Some states require that your signature be notarized. Every state requires at least two witnesses to sign in addition to yourself. The witnesses usually must not be named beneficiaries in the will.