If you do not have a will, you are leaving the state to decide on the distribution of all your posessions. If you have any posessions of value or any sentimental posessions you wish to go to specific individuals, you should have a legal will.
Control where your possessions go. If you have extensive property and your wishes regarding the disposition of it are complex, you are probably well-advised to have your will written up by a lawyer. If on the other hand you have limited property and you can state your wishes clearly and concisely, a hand-written will could be quite adequate. Plus, you could be saving yourself hundreds of dollars. Correctly hand-written wills, known as holographic wills, are legal in only half of the states in the United States and only about half the provinces in Canada. There are also slight variations, between states, as to what constitutes a legal hand-written will. Do some research to find out what is legal in your state. If a hand-written law is legal it must be done, with slight variations, in the following way.
Understand all requirements. To write a legal hand-written will, YOU MUST BE OF SOUND MIND at the time of writing. Your doctor, dentist and many others who are part of your life would know this so it is not usually a concern unless you are in a position where the state of your mind is already in question.
Read More: What Does a Legal Will Look Like?
Write your will by hand. The will MUST BE WRITTEN FROM START TO FINISH in YOUR handwriting. None of the will can be typed and none of it can be printed or written by other than yourself. If even one word of the will is typed or written by anyone other than you, the will can not be legal.
Check your state requirements. The will must STATE SPECIFICALLY THE NAMES OF THOSE WHO WILL BE YOUR HEIRS. To be absolutely clear, state the full names and relationships of the heirs to you.
STATE CLEARLY WHAT YOU WISH TO LEAVE TO EACH OF YOUR HEIRS. Be very specified and do not ramble. If your will contains confusing statements, family members or friends may contest the validity of your will and the settlement could end up in the courts.
Cover all bases. You must STATE WHO YOU WISH AS EXECUTOR. It is wise to ask this person ahead of time if they are willing to undertake this. Being an executor is not difficult but make sure you have a willing one.
Get witnesses. When you have completed your will, YOU MUST HAVE TWO PEOPLE WITNESS YOUR SIGNING THE WILL. Both these people must be present at the same time so choose someone like your Dr. and his secretary, druggest, real estate agents etc. The witnesses do not have to know you as a friend but they must know you are who you say you are. Let them see some valid I.D. Witnesses cannot be anyone who is mentioned in the will and they cannot be a spouse of the person who writes the will. They must be of legal age. Check this as legal age varies between states.
Get your will properly signed. The WITNESSES MUST SIGN at the bottom of the will. They should write their names and then print them and put a phone number where they can be reached. Enter the date of signing.
Keep your will in a safe place. Make a copy to keep it handy. Do check on the specifics of hand-written wills in your area. Some lawyers will give free advice but not many.
This article was written by Legal Beagle staff. If you have any questions, please reach out to us on our contact us page.