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How to Write a Will


If it’s your first time writing a will, you may be wondering where to begin: What information do you include? Do you need a lawyer? Is there any specific wording you have to use?

Before we dive in, let’s first discuss the purpose of a will and its legal importance. A will is an instructional document that ensures your wishes are carried out after your passing. These wishes can include anything from property inheritance to funeral plans. While a lawyer’s guidance is not legally necessary for your will to be approved, their insights on content and verbiage can help guarantee no miscommunication arises and your beneficiaries receive their expected items and property. There are a few different types of wills, and a lawyer’s guidance can be advantageous when outlining a more complex estate plan. For the purposes of this article, we’ll discuss how to create a simple will that works for 95% of people.

Ready to start writing? Follow these steps:

  1. Title your document as “Last Will and Testament.” Make sure to include your full legal name and address. The first paragraph of your will (ie. the declaration paragraph) should state:
    • You are of legal age (18 or older) and sound mind.
    • This document revokes all previously made wills.
    • You are not being coerced into making or modifying this will by a threatening party (known as “under duress”).
  2. Create a list of all your assets, including real estate, investments, and personal property.
  3. Designate an executor of the will. An executor is the person who will represent and manage your estate on your behalf. Include an alternate executor in the event your first choice is unavailable to carry out your will at the time of your passing.
  4. Decide who will inherit your assets and how they will be divided. Include a list of every single beneficiary (using their full legal names) that will be inheriting your property. You may want to seek legal advice to ensure your wishes are properly documented. List out each item and designate their recipients.
  5. For any dependent children, appoint a guardian that will care for them in the event of your death. You should choose an alternate guardian in case the first choice is unable to care for the child.
  6. Include any special instructions, such as funeral arrangements or charitable donations.
  7. Sign and date your will, and have it witnessed by two individuals who are not beneficiaries. The document cannot be lawfully used unless its signing is witnessed, so this step is particularly crucial.
  8. Keep the document in a safe place, and make sure your executor is aware of its location. Routinely update the contents of your will as needed. For example, you may need to revise your will after a major life event, such as marriage or divorce.

Regardless of your stage of life, creating a finite will is necessary at any age. Many people find it difficult to think about their passing from this world, but the reality is the end of life is inevitable and can happen at any time. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Get started on your will today, and ensure your loved ones are taken care of and that nothing is left unsaid.

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