A Last Will and Testament is the proper way to ensure that your funds, property and personal effects will be distributed after your death according to your wishes. A Last Will and Testament is a document that designates the transfer of your property and assets after you die. A Last Will and Testament can be drafted and signed by any person over the age of 18 who is mentally competent. Having a Last Will and Testament is especially important if you have young children because it gives you the opportunity to designate a guardian for them in the event of your death. Without a completed Last Will and Testament, the court will appoint a guardian for your children.
Type an introductory paragraph to your Last Will and Testament which should read as follows:
"I, (your name), a resident of the City of (name of city), State of (name of state), hereby revoke my former Wills and declare this to be my Last Will and Testament."
Next begin typing your Will. The first paragraph to your Last Will and Testament is known as ARTICLE ONE. This paragraph should state that all of your legal debts, funeral expenses, and the expenses of settling and administering your estate shall first be paid by your personal representative out of your estate as soon after your death as practicable without sacrificing the assets of your estate.
Continue typing your Will with the next paragraph titled ARTICLE TWO. In this paragraph, describe your distributions to your heirs, or designate the individual who will receive all your property. You may add additional ARTICLES if you are making specific gifts to people or charities.
Include an ARTICLE appointing a guardian if you have minor children. The guardian is usually your spouse. If your spouse fails to act for any reason, you should name an alternate.
Nominate your personal representative in a final ARTICLE. Make sure you state that if your first choice fails to act for any reason, you have made a backup appointment.
Draw out a signature line for yourself and your name printed or typed under the line. Also, provide the date the document is signed by you.
Under your signature, there should be short paragraph stating that this document, consisting of (number) pages, was signed by (your name) as (his/her) Last Will and Testament in the presence of us, at (his/her) request, in (his/her) presence and in the presence of each other, have signed our names as witnesses. We each certify that at the time (he/she) signed this Last Will and Testament, (Your Name) was mentally competent and acting voluntarily.
Then draw out two lines for witnesses who will sign the document.
- This document MUST be witnessed by 2 individuals who are not named in your Last Will and Testament and who are not related to you.
- Should you desire to change your Last Will and Testament and draft a new Will, make sure you destroy the old Will and any copies.
- Remember, a Last Will and Testament is a legal and binding document. IT DOES NOT NEED TO BE DRAFTED BY AN ATTORNEY. A Last Will and Testament will ensure that your estate gets divided how you desire. Failure to have a Last Will and Testament at the time of your death leaves your estate wide open to conflicts, problems, disputes over property, etc.
- When drafting your Last Will and Testament, only items of personal importance or of high value should be included in the Will. It is not necessary to name each and every item of personal property you own and who it should go to, unless there is a specific item you want to go to someone. You also can specify to give some of your assets to a charity.