How to Write a Quick Will

By Alexis Lawrence - Updated June 17, 2017
Close shot of  human hand writing something on the paper

When it comes to writing a will, it is best to consult a professional. A will that is not handled through a lawyer can easily be challenged and will likely not hold up in court if it is challenged. There are times though when it may be a good idea to get your wishes down on paper without going through legal hoops or paying legal fees. For instance, some people like to write out a quick will before going on a long trip.

Write your will out by hand. Typing may be easier to read, but for a quick will, the most important piece of identification is your handwriting. Write as legibly as possible.

List your name, address, and some identifying information, such as your birth date and Social Security number. This will help people identify the will as yours if there is a question later.

State clearly that this will overrides all previous wills. Also state clearly that you are of sound mind. Stating that the will overrides previous wills makes it simpler for your executor if you have had previous wills drawn up that contradict the information in your new will. Stating that you are of sound mind will keep your mental health from being called into question.

Name an executor in the will. The executor will carry out your the instructions in your will and oversee your estate. Choose someone responsible that you know you can trust. State that the executor can pay your debts and expenses out of your estate, including selling any real estate that may need to be sold. You should also name an alternate executor, in case the first person is unable to carry out the required duties.

List what piece of your estate goes to each person, such as “To my son, John, I leave…”. Your estate can be divided in exact numbers, like $10,000, or by percentage. You can also list a provision that states to whom the percentage should pass if you outlive your beneficiary. If no alternate person is listed, the percentage will automatically return to the estate should your beneficiary not survive you.

Sign and date the will. For a simple will, witnesses are not required. It is not a bad idea to have someone witness your will though. The witness must be someone that is not the executor or a beneficiary. If your will runs more than one page, initial each page separately and sign and date at the end. Even though it is not a legal document, most courts will at least consider your wishes if it sees that they are written out in your own handwriting and signed and dated.

About the Author

Alexis Lawrence is a freelance writer, filmmaker and photographer with extensive experience in digital video, book publishing and graphic design. An avid traveler, Lawrence has visited at least 10 cities on each inhabitable continent. She has attended several universities and holds a Bachelor of Science in English.

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