A do it yourself will is pretty easy to make. Save yourself hundreds of dollars in lawyer fees and still have a legal will. Once you decide that you need a will, you can choose an on-line will, download some will maker software, or buy some will forms.
No matter which method you use, just make sure you follow these steps.
One – Your will must be in writing
All wills have to be in writing. You cannot make a video will, and you cannot make an audio will. If you are making a holographic will, then the entire document must be in your own handwriting.
Other wills should be entirely printed (or typed). The only handwriting should be the signature of the testator (that is you), the names of the witnesses, the date, and the signature of the notary.
Many states consider hand written notes on a typewritten will to be a defacement. A defacement will often make a will invalid. So, do not make notes on the will. If you want to make a change to the will, do not try crossing things out and writing in the corrections. Just make a new version of your will.
Two – Identify yourself and state your intention to make a will
Write out your full, legal name, and maybe the town you live in.
Write something like “It is my intention to make this my last will and testament, to dispose of all my property upon my death.”
Three – Identify the people who would normally get your stuff
You must show that you are aware of the people “who would be the natural objects of your affections and recipients of your bounty.” These people would be your husband or wife, your children, parents, siblings, nieces or nephews, and other close relatives.
This is especially important if you are trying to disinherit your spouse or give significant amounts of money to charity.
Be sure to state that you are single (or married), that you have three (or no children). If you are not married and have no children, then mention your parents if they are alive, or your siblings.
If you are not giving your property to one of these categories of people, then be sure to state why. For instance, “I am not providing for my son Joe, because he never calls me or visits us for holidays. Furthermore, my daughter has a special needs kid and needs the money more than he does.”
Four – Identify who gets what
Use language that disposes of all of your property.
You can make general bequests, such as “half of my property to my husband Fred, and half of my property to my children Heather and Jake.”
You can also make specific bequests. These could be “my house on Kapok street to my son Lonnie, all my cars to my daughter Mary, and my Nikon camera to my good friend Oscar Petersen.”
Specific bequests should be followed by a general one that includes all the rest of your property. Something like “all the rest of my property to my grandchildren Peter and Quinn.”
Five – Execute the will properly
This is probably the most important part. You could have done the other steps right, but if you do not execute properly, your will is probably invalid.
Sign and date your will
This might seem obvious, but do not forget to sign your will, and indicate the date that you signed it.
Have two witness
Your signature on the will must be witnessed by two people! This means that you must sign while two people are watching you do it, as you do it. Then they must sign your will, indicating that they watched you sign the will, and you told them that you were signing your will.
Bonus – Have a Notary Public witness the signing
Have a Notary witness you and the witnesses sign the will, and have them write that all three of you signed in front of the Notary. This will give you what is called a self executing will. This will make probating your will much easier for your executor.
So there you have it. By following the steps outlined above, you can make yourself a simple, do it yourself will.
By Steve Harton
Steve is an estate planning attorney in Rock Springs, Wyoming. If you would like some help writing a will in Wyoming, please give him a call, at 307-382-5545.