How to Write a Will

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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How Do I Write A Will?

If you have a significant amount of assets, as well as people who depend on you, it’s likely that you have some concerns about what will be done with your assets after your death. This is an issue that nobody likes to think about – contemplating our own mortality is some heavy stuff.

However, it’s also the one thing we can be certain of. So, there’s no sense in putting off planning for it. Usually, the central element in a person’s estate plan is a will. A will is simply a document that identifies all of the testator’s (the person writing the will) assets, and says what is to be done with them when the testator dies.

Typically, a will leaves all of the testator’s property to his or her immediate family members – often their spouse and/or children. However, when thinking about how to write a will, you can leave your property to whomever you want.

Should I Write My Own Will?

While it is possible for a person to write their own will, most states have some very specific requirements for a will to be legally valid. For that reason, it’s a very good idea to have an attorney write your will, or at the very least review the will you have written, to look for any problems.

If you are wondering how to write a will, here are a few tips. First, you should write a simple introduction that identifies you by name, provides your address, and states that you are of sound mind. Then, you should do an accounting of all of your assets (money, property, etc.). Finally, your will should state what you want done with your assets after your death.

Once your will is drafted, you should sign and date it. Most states require a will to be signed by at least 2 witnesses. By signing the will, the witnesses are stating that they saw you voluntarily sign it, and that you appeared to be of sound mind, and acting voluntarily. The witnesses must be people who have no interest in the will. So, close relatives and anyone mentioned in the will cannot serve as witnesses. Any other mentally competent adult can serve as a witness, however.

What Can a Will Do?

It should be noted that a will can only transfer legal ownership of a piece of property to another person. You cannot use your will to compel a person to do something that they would not otherwise be required to do. You can, however, place certain conditions on gifts in your will. For example, you could leave a sum of money to one of your children, on the condition that they graduate college before they reach the age of 25. In this case, you aren’t forcing them to go to college if they don’t want to, but you are giving them a strong incentive to do so.

How Can a Lawyer Help?

It should go without saying that this is far from a comprehensive guide on how to write a will. If you want to know how to write a will in more detail, it’s essential that you speak with a qualified estate planning attorney.

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Last Modified: 06-23-2014 02:37 PM PDT

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