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So You Want to Write Your Own Will

Legal fees are expensive and you might not want to invest hundreds of dollars to have your will created by a professional. Depending on your situation, it might be appropriate to write your own will. In the event you own property, have a large family, or possess considerable wealth, you'll definitely want to contact a lawyer to help compose your will.

If you choose to write your own will, include the following sections:

  1. Declarations page. The declarations page includes your name, birth date, and legal address. Feel free to be specific and descriptive about yourself on this page so that readers know that "it's really you" who wrote the document.
  • Also on this page, it's necessary to state you're over the age of 18 and "of sound mind."
  • You'll want to add that no one is forcing you in any way to make your will and that you're doing it of your own free will.
  • It's wise to say that you're "revoking" any prior wills and codicils (such as attachments to wills) and that the current will is your "last."
  1. Executor page. Next, you'll want to designate who you want to manage your affairs in the event of your death. Married people usually designate their partners to be their executors.
  • The key in selecting the executor is that it be someone who is knowledgeable about your affairs.
  • Speak to whomever you plan to name as your executor in advance. The person selected will hopefully be comfortable with your naming him.
  • Also, it's wise to appoint an "alternate" executor. State that in the event your executor is unable or unwilling to serve in the role, you want the alternate to step in and assume the position.
  1. Guardian page. If you have children younger than age 18 or dependents with special needs who are unable to care for themselves even though they're over 18, it will be necessary to appoint a guardian to take care of them in the event of your death. As you might suspect, it's integral you discuss this issue at length with the person you have in mind.
  2. Beneficiaries page. This section of the will is where you list all of your beneficiaries by full name, relationship to you and their legal addresses at the time of the will's composition, in addition to what you want to will to each person. Be specific about what you plan to leave to each beneficiary.
  3. Burial and funeral page. Specify here whether you prefer to be buried (and where) or cremated. Also, you might include your preferences for your funeral, such as open or closed casket, no public funeral, private service only, and the like.
  4. Signatures page. Although you're nearly done with your will, this page is quite important as it verifies and validates your document.
  • Not only does it include your signature, full name and address at the time of the will's composition, it denotes that same information for those witnessing your signature. In most states, two witnesses' signatures are all you need. However, ensure you check your state's requirements when it comes to witnesses before completing this part of your will.
  • The page needs to state that the witnesses actually witnessed your signing of the document. Include the date and where they were at the time of their signing.

If you've included provisions that your family should see right away when you die, like your wishes for your funeral, keep a copy of it in your home and let your loved ones know where to find it. A will locked away in a safety deposit box will be of no immediate help to your loved ones, since they would be unable to access the box's contents immediately upon your death.

Depending on the laws in your state, parts of your will could be overruled based on what you included in your document, so it's important to become familiar with and comply with the laws in your state regarding passing on your estate.

If you have questions about writing your will or possess considerable wealth or property, contact an attorney to obtain legal advice so that your wishes can be legally documented in the proper form for your state.

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