A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing a Last Will and Testament

The American Bar Association suggests that there is no fixed formula when it comes to writing a will. However, there are some words and phrases that can notify the probate court that you have included particular required elements in your will. It is crucial that you know how to word a last will and testament so that you will remember to include all the important information in your will. This article will give a step-by-step guide for you to word your last will.


Identify the Document As Your Last Will

Start with a statement that establishes the document as your last will and testament. The typical format is this: “This is the last will and testament of (your name).” This is followed by your full address. Also, you may want to include the date by starting with "Today's date is (the date/month/year).”


Name Your Executor

The next step is to name your executor. You can start a paragraph with “I name (your executor’s name) to be my executor.” If you want to also name an alternate executor, follow this sentence with another which states that you wish your alternate executor to step up when your executor is unable to. As your executor is the one who will be distributing your assets and paying your debts after you pass, make sure that you pick someone you can completely trust.


Give Your Executor Power

Grant your executor the power to clear your debts and distribute your assets by writing a statement. This can be fairly simple. For example, the will of Leonard Calvert, first governor of Maryland, instructed his executor to “take all and pay all.”


Name the Beneficiaries

One of the most important parts of your will is the name of your beneficiaries or the people you wish to leave part or all of your assets with. Make sure that you name each person as specifically as possible by using the full name, address, and relationship to you so that there won’t be any confusion. This is particularly important if some of your beneficiaries share the same first name.


Write a Residuary Clause

Be sure to include a residuary clause, which ensures that any property that you have not specifically mentioned will be covered by your will and can be distributed to the individual you want to have it. According to USLegal.com, a residuary clause may read: "I will, devise, bequeath and give all the rest and remainder of my property and estate of every kind and character, including, but not limited to, real and personal property in which I may have an interest at the date of my death and which is not otherwise effectively disposed of, to (the name of the person to receive any residuary assets)."


Sign and Date Your Will

The final step is to sign and date your will in the presence of at least two witnesses. They should watch you sign your name and write the date, including the day, month, and year. Then, each witness can sign and date the will underneath your signature. Each witness must type in or write a sentence declaring that they know who you are and that they have watched you sign your will. In some states, it may be required for a will to be notarized. Therefore, it is recommended that you speak with an experienced attorney to see whether or not you need a notary present when you and your witnesses sign the will.

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Disclaimer: The author, the publisher and the vendor of these forms makes no representations or warranties regarding the outcome or the use to which these forms are put and are not assuming any liability for any claims, losses, or damages arising out of the use of these forms. The user should not rely on the author or the publisher of these forms for any professional advice. Always consult with a lawyer regarding the rules and regulations governing your residing state/province. The information provided is for illustrative purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issues and concerns related to the drafting of wills and other legal documents. Remember that individual situations and estate planning needs differ, and this Kit may not be suitable for your specific circumstances. Kit may vary upon receipt.
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