10 Steps for How to Write a Will

Many people do not need a lawyer to draft a basic Will. If your circumstances are such that you will not leave a very large estate behind, and the beneficiaries are fairly straightforward, it is a simple matter to show you how to write a will. You should make a new Will when any of your circumstances change, such as the birth of a child, divorce, change of property, moving to a new address, etc.  In the past, codicils were added to Wills to reflect changes – rather than retyping sometimes lengthy documents.  These codicils also had to be witnessed and/or notarized and could be confusing. It is much easier nowadays to amend the Will electronically and produce a new complete document.

1. Document Title


2. Declaration

You will state your full name and residential address, with a declaration that:
You are of legal age to make Will and are of sound mind and memory;
This is your last will and testament, revoking all previously made wills and codicils;
You are not under duress or undue influence to make this will.

Note: In giving your personal details, be as complete as possible – add any identification numbers, maiden name, etc.

3. Name an Executor

People typically name the remaining spouse or main beneficiary of the estate as executor. But in many cases the beneficiaries, once amicable no longer get along due to jealously over the estate and begin to fight with the heirs. To simplify the process and allow objectivity, using an outside source like Rink & Robinson, PLLC, can provide a valuable resource in handling the painstaking details of assisting in the distribution of the assets of an estate.

4. Name a Guardian for your Minor Children

If your children are of the age that they require guardianship and there is no remaining natural parent to take care of them, you should name a legal guardian in your will or the court will appoint one. This is probably the most important clause for parents in determining how to write a will.  Have a serious discussion with your choice of guardian to confirm that he / she is prepared to take on this duty, before naming him / her in your Will. If your choice is a stable married couple, state both of their names. Unlike temporary guardianship,a legal guardian may be responsible for your children for a long time and must be chosen with care.

5. Details of Beneficiaries

Name your spouse or life partner, children and other beneficiaries specifically and without leaving any doubt as to their identity. Name alternate beneficiaries in case of simultaneous death. In most cases, a spouse has a right to inherit. Should you disinherit your spouse and it is contested in court, your Will may be overruled. You need to consult with an attorney to get information and advice if you do not want your spouse to inherit.

6. Details of your Assets

An important part of how to write a Will, is to distinguish between estate assets that are already assigned to beneficiaries in the event of your death and those that are not.  Assets that are not part of a Will, may be any policies where you have already specified a beneficiary, joint ownership or joint tenancy of property, payable-on-death bank accounts, trusts etc. (If a policy does not have a beneficiary named, it becomes part of the estate and can attract executor’s fees.)  If you have assets in a different country, you should make a separate Will specifically for that country and exclude those assets from the Will made in your home country. Every country has different inheritance laws and taxes and lumping all assets together can create serious problems and delays. You should investigate how to write a Will for foreign assets.

7. How to Write a Will to cover Specific Bequests

Under the heading “BEQUESTS” you could name persons or organizations whom you wish to inherit specific property or cash sums. In the clause thereafter, you will state the following: Apart from the items listed in # above, I bequeath the remainder of my assets to …

8. Funeral Arrangements

You can express your wishes on whether to be cremated, buried or have your remains disposed of in any other way, as long as your wishes do not contravene any laws in your state or country. Your last will and testament is not the document to specify how you wish to receive treatment in a medical crisis.

9. Your Signature

You have to sign your Wll in the joint presence of witnesses, since they will, in fact, be witnessing (see) that you are indeed the signatory of the Will and under no duress to do so. The actual date and place of the signing must be recorded and it is recommended that you sign every page of the Will.

10. Signatures of Witnesses

A minimum of two witnesses in most states and countries are required to witness the signing of your Will. Their full names, addresses and signatures should be on the document.  The witnesses have to sign in the presence of the person making the Will.  You must add a declaration that they witnessed your signature, that they are legal adults and of sound mind and that they consider you of sound mind, adult age and under no duress or undue influence to sign your Will. The date and place of their signing (same as yours) must be recorded.

NOTE: Rink & Robinson, PLLC are certified public accountants and consultants, not lawyers. We suggest when preparing legal documents that clients should be due diligent in their paperwork filings and consult with an attorney.