Create a Last Will with our simple Will template to be in charge of how your family and possessions are cared for after you pass on. Outline beneficiaries, assets, and important information.
Last Update May 3rd, 2022
- What is a Last Will and Testament
- Why Is a Last Will Important
- How to Write a Last Will and Testament
- Last Will Laws by State
- What Makes a Will Invalid
- How to Amend a Will
- Last Will and Testament vs Living Will
- Last Will and Testament Sample
- FAQs About Last Will and Testaments
What is a Last Will and Testament
A Last Will and testament is an important legal document that many people write. The purpose of a Last Will and testament is to allow an individual, also known as a testator, to decide who receives their personal property after they pass away
This means, with a Last Will, you are legally in charge of the distribution of your property after your passing.
Some alternative names for a Last Will and testament are:
Will and testament
Having a look at a free Will template from LawDistrict gives you a good idea of how to make your own Will.
A Will helps people have peace of mind in their final days. There will be much less confusion and disagreement over your belongings when the time eventually comes.
Why Is a Last Will Important
A Will is an essential legal document for a few different reasons. While what happens to your estate and possessions after your death may not seem important now, not signing a Will has some serious consequences.
So Why Should you Make a Will
A Final Will has key uses that make it essential for anyone interested in passing on and protecting their belongings.
It gives you and your loved one's peace of mind and security, knowing you have made the decisions for where your belongings go. This leads to fewer arguments over the ownership of your assets and property when you pass on.
Underage children are also protected when parents sign a Last Will and Testament, as you can assign them a legal guardian.
Who Needs a Will
A Last Will and Testament is an extremely helpful legal document that just about any adult should make.
People who fall into these categories are especially in need of a Will:
Parent, with a newborn or adopted child
Recently married or divorced
Home or property owner
A good question to ask yourself, is what happens if I don’t write a Will?
Not writing a Will before you die means a court-appointed administrator decides who receives your possessions.
How to Write a Last Will and Testament
Knowing how to properly fill out a Last Will and Testament form is important. There are essential details and information that must be included.
Follow these steps to write a Last Will and testament that meets the legal criteria.
Personal Data of the Testator or Testatrix
A testator, is the person who writes the Will. If it is your Will, then fill in your first name, last name, and the county and state that you live in. This also revokes any Wills and amendments made previously.
Include which people or organizations receive your possessions once your debts are settled. Your loved ones or charities are good examples of beneficiaries.
Also, include the name of your beneficiaries and fill in their information.
Children: Include their names
Charitable organizations: Include the name, contact information, and tax information
Other beneficiaries: Include name, relationship, and the city and state where they live
Plan Your Funeral
Remember to add funeral arrangements, these arrangements can include:
Where the service will be held
Cremation or burial and where to store or dispose of ashes
Include the name of an agent, if you signed an Advance Health Care Directive, to arrange what happens to your remains.
You can then add which specific items are given to which beneficiaries.
Gifts at Death: Include the name of the beneficiary and what tangible property they receive
Gifts of Real Estate: Include the beneficiary and what the property is.
Gifts of Account and Cash: List account information, the name of the beneficiary and the amount of money that is to be given.
Gift to Charity: List an amount of money to be given to charity, if you choose one.
Residue: Assign your first, second, and third beneficiaries, if they do not survive longer than you, the possessions you have assigned go to their descendants.
Appoint an Executor
Next, include the executor. Executors make court appearances, distribute assets, and perform other duties. Many people choose a spouse or one of their children to be their executor.
Make sure to fill in your relationship with him or her and nominate an alternate Executor and second alternate Executor.
Designate Executory Powers
This part lists which power and authority he or she has with respect to your estate. The Executor must still distribute all property and assets to the beneficiaries.
These powers include:
Retention of property: The property remains in the discretion of the Executor.
Dealing in estate assets: The Executor has the right to sell, lease, exchange property etc.
Borrowing: The Executor has the right to borrow money to administer the estate.
Distributions to minor incapacitated beneficiaries: The executor can distribute parts of the assets to a minor or someone that is incapacitated.
Distributions in kind: The Executor can make distributions in money or in kind.
Investing: Can decide to invest or not invest your property.
Delegation and agents: The Executor can employ attorneys, accountants, and other such agents.
Payment of debts: The Executor can use the money of the testator to pay off his or her debts.
Storing personal property: The Executor is allowed to hold on to the property of a minor or incapacitated to distribute on a specified date.
Closely held businesses: To continue any business that was left by you, the testator.
Digital assets: The Executor has control over digital accounts or assets left by you, the testator.
The state where you reside in is the state that governs your Will. This means you must fill in what state you reside in.
Find Witnesses and Sign
A Last Will and testament should be signed with 2 disinterested witnesses, whether it is mandatory in your state or not.
In this part you write the number of pages of the Will, the date and sign.
Your witnesses sign sworn statements, these include filling in which state and county the Will takes effect in and the witnesses’ names and addresses.
Finally, if you choose to or if it is required, a Notary Public swears and signs the Will.
Last Will Laws by State
Different states have different requirements. Most states require 2 witnesses to sign the document.
In some states, it is necessary to sign with a notary public.
Have a look at your state law regarding Last Wills and testaments.
|State||State Law||Signing Requirement|
|Alabama||§ 43-8-131||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Alaska||§ 13.12.502||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Arizona||§ 14-2502||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Arkansas||§ 28-25-102||Two (2) Witnesses|
|California||§ 6110||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Colorado||§ 15-11-502||Two (2) Witnesses and a Notary Public|
|Connecticut||§ 45a-251||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Delaware||§ 201 to 202||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Florida||§ 732.502||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Georgia||§ 18-103||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Hawaii||§ 560:2-502||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Idaho||§ 15-2-502||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Illinois||Section 755 ILCS 5/4-3||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Indiana||§ 29-1-5-3||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Iowa||§ 633.279||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Kansas||§ 59-606||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Kentucky||§ 394.040||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Louisiana||§ Art. 1577||Two (2) Witnesses and a Notary Public|
|Maine||§ 2-502||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Maryland||§ 4-102||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Massachusetts||§ 2-502||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Michigan||§ 700-2502||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Minnesota||§ 524.2-502||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Mississippi||§ 91-5-1||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Missouri||§ 474.320||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Montana||§ 72-2-522||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Nebraska||§ 30-2327||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Nevada||§ 133.040||Two (2) Witnesses|
|New Hampshire||§ 551||Two (2) Witnesses|
|New Jersey||§ 3B:3-2||Two (2) Witnesses|
|New Mexico||§ 45-2-502||Two (2) Witnesses|
|New York||§ 3-1.1||Two (2) Witnesses|
|North Carolina||§ 31-3.3||Two (2) Witnesses|
|North Dakota||§ 30.1-08-02. (2-502)||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Ohio||§ 2107.03||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Oklahoma||§ 84-55||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Oregon||§ 112.235||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Pennsylvania||§ § 2502||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Rhode Island||§ 33-5-5||Two (2) Witnesses|
|South Carolina||§ 62-2-502||Two (2) Witnesses|
|South Dakota||§ 29A-2-502||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Tennessee||§ 32-1-104||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Texas||§ 251.051||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Utah||§ 75-2-502||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Vermont||§ 14 V.S.A. § 5||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Virginia||§ 64.2-403||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Washington||§ 11.12.020||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Washington D.C.||§ 18-103||Two (2) Witnesses|
|West Virginia||§ 41-1-3||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Wisconsin||§ 853.03||Two (2) Witnesses|
|Wyoming||§ 2-6-112||Two (2) Witnesses|
What Makes a Will Invalid
Unfortunately, in some circumstances, your will could be declared invalid by your state for a few different reasons.
Mental incompetence: You can be declared mentally incompetent or incapacitated if you can’t demonstrate that you understand:
What property you own,
Who your family members are,
What the will states, and what it means,
Your relationship with your beneficiaries.
Owning a different Will: If you own any old wills you should destroy them. Nevertheless, it is possible to have more than one if you have wills for different properties in different states.
Improper witnesses: If you have any witnesses under the age of 18 or someone interested in your assets, then the Will can be declared invalid.
How to Amend a Will
If you need to make changes to your Will, it is possible to do so. You can use a “codicil”, which is an amendment to a Last Will and testament.
If you need to make any changes to your beneficiaries, assets, etc., make sure to attach a codicil to your Last Will.
A self-proving affidavit is also recommended. This is used to prove you made the changes to the document of your own free will.
Last Will and Testament vs Living Will
Although they have similar titles, a Last Will and a Living Will have very different purposes.
Both documents do deal with end-of-life issues when you are not able to communicate your preferences anymore.
|Last Will||Living Will|
|Assign someone to distribute your property after death||States preferred health care preferences if you cannot communicate.|
|Assigns legal guardians to take care of underage children||States specific treatment for specific circumstances|
To put it simply, a Last Will is used to plan for what happens to you and your belongings when you eventually die.
A Living Will is to let medical staff know if you would like to receive a certain treatment or not, in case you become unable to communicate.
Last Will and Testament Sample
Even when you know what information to specifically include, it is always a good idea to see a sample document.
You can use a Last Will and Testament sample from LawDistrict to help you create your own document.
FAQs About Last Will and Testaments
If you remain uncertain about how to outline your Last Will and testament, keep reading and find the answers to the most common questions about Last Wills below.
How to Find a Last Will and Testament Online
What is the Difference Between a Last Will and a Living Trust
Between a Last Will and a Living Trust, there is a key similarity and a few differences.
Both documents are used to determine who receives your possessions after you die.
However, there are some key differences.
|Last Will||Living Trust|
|A Probate Court is used to supervise your requests after you pass away.||A Probate Court does not have jurisdiction.|
|Allows you to appoint a legal guardian for your child.||You are not allowed to appoint a legal guardian.|
|A court appoints a representative if you don’t create a Durable Power of Attorney||There is no conservatorship. Your trustee will be responsible for distributing your property.|
Do I Need a Will If I Have Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney and Last Will both help you when you are not able to communicate your desires.
However, it is important to understand that you should have both documents. A Power of Attorney makes decisions for you while you are still alive, but you are not able to communicate.
The moment you die, thePower of Attorney loses its authority.
Who Can Make a Last Will
Can a Husband and Wife Make a Joint Will?
Yes, it is possible to make a Joint Will. These types of Wills are created and usually signed by a married couple.
Do I have to File My Will?
You do not have to file your Will. It is filed only once you, the testator, pass away.