How To Write A Will

Here is a short guide on how to write a Will that is legally binding. While different countries or state have some minor variations, at the most basic level a Will must contain certain sections and this applies whether you choose to use an online Will writing service, use Will forms or use an attorney.

A Title

Your document should contain a title or heading that says Last Will and Testament. While the exact title is not crucial, the best is still to use the full sentence above. It is common to have the cover page with the title “Last Will and Testament of John Doe Sr” for example.

Declaration

The declaration is a very important part in your Will. It usually states your full details including your full name, address, date of birth etc. This is to identify you as clearly as possible.

Within the declaration, there is also a clause to state that this is your last will and testament, revoking all previously made wills and codicils. Even if this is your first Will, this declaration is included.

Appointing Executors

After the declaration, next is to appoint an Executor. Typically a spouse is the first choice as executor but it can be anyone. A close friend, a relative, a sibling. It is a good idea to have an alternate person in case the executor dies before you do or dies together.

Again, the full names, addresses are required when you appoint your executor.

Name a Guardian

If you have minor children, the next step is to appoint a legal guardian should you and your spouse dies before they reach the age of majority.

Distribution of Assets

Usually people pay the most attention at this section but as you can see, if you made any mistake on the sections above, your Will might not be legally binding.

Depending on your family situation and beneficiaries, the common ways to distribute assets are:-

  • give everything to one person eg. to surviving spouse
  • itemize individual asset to individual person eg. I give my car to my son
  • to give assets in percentage or fraction to several beneficiaries eg. 60% of my house to my son and 40% to my daughter
  • to sell everything and distribute proceeds
  • a mix of the above

Residual Clause

It is common to put this in your Will to account for assets you accumulate but either you forgot to or did not include in your Will for any reason.

Funeral Arrangements

While funeral arrangements may be included in a Will, it may not be practical. While they are people who start looking for the Will before the body get’s cold, I reckon the norm is to wait until after the funeral have taken place, before the Will is located and read.

However, this is entirely your choice to include such instructions. That’s the great thing about Wills. You can write anything you want.

Signature of testator and witness

Then finally, the last section is where you sign your Will in the presence of witnesses. The signing of the Will must be carried out at the same time. By the way, a witness cannot be a beneficiary.

Most countries and states need 2 witness who are above the age of majority while there are some that require 3 witnesses.

That is all there is on how to write a Will. In the state of Louisiana, your Will must be notarized. This means the signing process must be carried out in the presence of a notary public or commissioner of oath.

A good writing software, whether one you download and install on your computer or online, will guide you at each step on how to write a Will. This ensures that nothing important is overlooked.

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