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Writing a Will Without a Lawyer

Rujuta Borkar Oct 12, 2018
Writing a will without a lawyer might seem like a tough job but it need not be. Read to know how to go about doing this.
Many do not even think about writing their will unless they are old or are gripped with some disease that puts them at the risk of death, even though it is really an important thing to handle. It should not happen that a person should wait for his end to write his will.
Writing a will should happen much before that so that you are sure that you've taken care of your family. It is not necessary that you need a lawyer to write your will for you. Writing a will without a lawyer is possible and one can do it quite efficiently as well.
There are many who do not know how to write a will without a lawyer―by reading ahead, they will know how to go about writing a will yourself without hiring any professional help―like that of an attorney.

Steps Involved

There is bound to be some confusion in making a will without a lawyer, what with all the technical jargon and terms. I'll try to make it really simple so that there is no confusion in this direction.

Title and Declaration

It is advised that you type your will instead of writing it so that changes done from time to time are easier to incorporate. Start the document with a bold headline saying 'Last Will and Testament'. Include your complete permanent and local address, your full name, maiden name, all contact numbers and other important personal details.
Then there needs to be a declaration done which needs you to declare that you are of a legal age (18) and of sound mind and are not writing this will under pressure from anyone else. Also declare that any other wills that you have made before this one stand canceled.

Property List

The next step includes you taking stock of your entire property. Make a list of things and identify the different people that your assets and property will go to. Try to make sense of this list. Don't exclude a person because you've had a fight, or don't leave something to a person who might not need it. Try to be very objective when making this list.

Identify an Executor

An executor is a person who is responsible for distributing the contents of the will according to the list you've made of what goes to whom. Make sure that the executor is a person you can trust. Most people give their spouse this title.
This is an important role, so choose wisely. Nominate a second name for an executor just in case the original executor does not want to take up the responsibility due to some reason or the other.

Nominating Guardians

If you have minor children, nominating a guardian in your will is an important step to keep in mind. Even if you have appointed godparents, you need to make it official in your will to show that the relation hasn't changed and that they will continue to be the legal guardian. If this is not done, the state will appoint guardians after your death.

Debts and Taxes

State in your will that your executor is responsible for paying all your debts and fees, funeral expenses, or other installments from your property so that there are no further complications that need your beneficiaries to be payable. Make sure you include this pointer when you're writing your own will.

Other Property and Assets

In case of any foreign assets or joint accounts, you need to do some estate planning and mention the beneficiaries if it hasn't already been decided. Along with that, if the asset is a foreign one, then the policies of that country need to be kept in mind. There is a possibility that in such a case a separate will might have to be made for this one pointer.

Type of Will

Different states have different clauses for writing one's own will. Some states need you to have a computerized will and will not accept a holographic will (one which uses your own handwriting for signing the date and signature), while others might. You will have to look up what are the will requirements of your state and draw up a will accordingly.

Signature and Witnesses

After your will is complete, you need to sign it in the presence of two or three witnesses so that the credibility of the will is set. Make sure that you sign every page of the will. The witnesses cannot be any one of the beneficiaries.
All the witnesses are required to sign the will as well, along with details of their complete addresses and contact numbers. They also need to declare that they were witness to your signing, that they are of sound mind and of a legal age, along with declaring that you are of sound mind and were under no pressure to sign the will.
To make the process even more effective, get it duly authorized by a notary officer so that there is no confusion. In some states, this is a compulsory process and is actually highly advised.

Check and Update

Make sure that you read through your will and update it from time to time (usually once a year). This will ensure that nothing has changed, or if it has, you can make the changes fairly easily. This will save your beneficiaries from any confusion later. Plus, it does not take any effort or time to get new witnesses.
Writing a will without a lawyer is not really difficult if you know what needs to be included in it and how to go about it. And now that I've given you the walk through of it, I hope it'll be easier for you.