Easy Way to Create a Will

By Teo Spengler
Last Will, Testament document, a pen

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Some people put off making wills because of the time, trouble and money that might be involved. However, if your estate is modest and your beneficiaries few, you can create a will easily by using a fill-in-the-blank form. Just be certain you choose a form that is valid in your state.

Will Basics

Writing a will is a little like flossing your teeth twice a day; most people know it's a good idea but many find reasons not to do it. A will is a legal document in which you set out what you want to happen to your property when you die. Creating this document allows you to name beneficiaries to receive your money and other property and also name an executor to shepherd the will through probate court. If you do not leave a valid will, your property passes to your close relatives under your state's intestacy statutes.

Form Wills

A form will gives you the scaffolding for creating a valid will, but it is up to you to complete the project. This type of will provides spaces for you to identify yourself, your property, your beneficiaries and your chosen executor. Most states require that a printed will be signed by the maker in front of witnesses, so the forms usually leave spaces for these signatures as well. All you have to do to create a will is fill in the blanks, sign it in front of witnesses and have them sign it too.

Problems With Form Wills

Each state has laws about how wills must be created, and your will is only valid if you follow the laws of your state. A form will may not accurately follow your state's laws. If you happen to use a form will that does not comply with the requirements, it will be invalid. Differences between states in the number of required witnesses is a particular area of concern; you may not know your state requires three witnesses if your form only provides spaces for two witness signatures. You can handle these issues by learning your state's requirements for making wills, using a reliable will form and hiring an attorney to review your will.

Statutory and Other Reliable Will Forms

Although the wills at your local office supply store might be handy, it's wiser to obtain a form will from your state's bar association, the probate court or some other reliable source. The best form will is termed a statutory will and should be your form will of choice if it's available in your state. A statutory will is essentially a form will that has been reviewed and approved by the state legislature so you can be sure it complies with all requisite state laws. You can find statutory wills in your state probate statutes, if not from the local bar association or law library.

About the Author

Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.

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