How To Write Your Own Will

Full Video Transcript

TRANSCRIPT: Almost everyone should have a will, but most of us don’t, and today, writing your will is easier than ever. You can even fill out your will online. If you’re like most Americans, writing your will is pretty simple. If you have significant assets, however, or a blended family, you may need more assistance in writing your will, since there may be a variety of legal issues to factor in. That said, here are some general guidelines for writing your will. First, take some time to gather information about all your assets. Make a list of everything you own that you’d like to leave to someone after you die. Now, this includes any interest in real estate, personal property, special family heirlooms, cars, bank accounts, and other investments, just to name a few. You might be surprised and find you have more to leave to someone than you thought. And this list will be very helpful to you when it comes to actually writing your will. Second, when drafting your will, you certainly can use a document preparation service, but make sure your will is complete. Handwriting something on a separate page may leave room for a challenge to the will. There could be a claim that someone other than you wrote that part in later. And third, try to be as specific as possible in your will so that your intent is perfectly clear to all parties involved, and especially to the court. For example, you can certainly leave your car to someone, but if you mean a special car, you might indicate your 1956 Thunderbird. Fourth, it is usually best that all pages of the will be signed and dated. And finally, each state requires that you have witnesses sign your will to prove its validity, usually at least two witnesses. Now, ideally, the witnesses should have no interest in any property passing under your will. Now even though it can be easy to write your own will, it is highly recommended that you consult an attorney, either early in the will drafting process or at least to review it once it’s done, so you can be assured your will is valid under state law and meets your true objectives. Contact a wills and trusts attorney or an estate planning attorney for more information.

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