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How to Write Your Own Will - and Make it Legal

List: Posted: 10/21/11

Many people assume that the only person who can write wills is a lawyer.  They think that they could never write such a legal document without the help of a professional attorney.  However, since attorneys are pricey, they may avoid choosing one to write their wills. 


If you want to make a will, but you do not want to hire an attorney, remember that you can write your own in a few easy steps.


Part 1: Identification and Declaration 


All wills should begin in a certain way and should include identification.  Before you write anything else, write your legal, full name, right along with your legal address and place of residence.  Should you later move, this may need to be changed for the document to remain legal.


You also need to declare that you know what you are doing.  This means you may need to state in the document that you are of strong mental capacity.  By including this statement, no family member will be able to argue that you did not know what you were doing when you wrote your will.


A third declaration should state that you are using this document only and any other documents before this one will no longer be legal. 


Finally, you need to declare an executor.  This will be a person who is responsible for making sure the details of the document are carried out.  Choose someone, preferably not a family member, who you feel will be fair.


Part 2: Remember Debts, Assets and Expenses


Wills are not just about giving away your assets.  The document should also include how your expenses and bills should be handled.  You need to state that the executor that you appointed may have the power to take the steps to pay all of these bills and to sell any real estate to cover the cost of expenses.


Then, you will be able to divvy up your assets.  If you have money and property, the first step will be to split it up by percentages.  If you would like it split between your two children, then you need to state that it should be split 50/50.  Depending on how many heirs you have, you will need to include the proper percentages.


If you have specific items that you want to go to specific people, this should be included in clear detail, no matter how minor the item may seem.  Make sure to include every single item that you want bequeathed to a certain person.  You may find it helps to include photographs.

Part 3: Remember the Signature


Finally, you need to sign the document.  You need to find out how many witnesses that your state requires, and then be sure to sign the document in front of those witnesses with a notary present.  Without this, you may not be able to make sure the document is valid.


You can write your own will, and you can do so without all of the legal jargon.  If you follow the above steps, you can create a legal and standing document without an attorney. 

Other Attorneys

    Certified Elder Law Attorney by the ABA Accredited National Elder Law Foundation, with locations in Northern and Central New Jersey

    • 1000 US Highway 9 N Ste 106
    • Woodbridge, NJ 07095
    • (732) 750-1040

      Certified Elder Law Attorney by the ABA Accredited National Elder Law Foundation, with locations in Northern and Central New Jersey

      • 1000 US Highway 9 N Ste 106
      • Woodbridge, NJ 07095
      • (732) 750-1040

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        • 2053 Woodbridge Ave
        • Edison, NJ 08817
        • (732) 572-0500
        • 5 Cooke Ave
        • Carteret, NJ 07008
        • (732) 541-4235


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