Granted, we all don’t like to think about it, but just like taxes, death is inenvitable. So, everyone needs to write out their Last Will and Testament before “the time” comes. Why? Your will is a compilation of your last wishes. It’s a way for you to tell your family about your funeral wishes. It’s also a way for you to distribute your estate in whatever divisible manner you see fit.
In the absence of a will, the state in which you live can make these decisions for you. The state can also decide the fate of your minor children. Do you really want that to happen?
Laws regarding Last Wills and Testaments vary from state to state. Basically, you need to be in “sound mind and body” in order for the document to stand up in court.
To begin your own will, the first page should start out with the following:
1. The Title of the Legal Document and the First Paragraph
The title will read, “The Last Will and Testament of (Your Name)”. Then, start the first paragraph of the first page by writing, “I, (Your Name), (Your Street Address, City, State, and Zip Code), being of sound mind and body, hereby declare this to be my Last Will and Testament.
2. The Second Paragraph will start out with, “I hereby revoke all previous wills and codicils.” This simply means that any other wills you might have made out are null and void.
3. If you are legally married, then the third paragraph will state that: “I am married to (Spouse’s Name). All references in this will which refer to my spouse will refer to (Spouse’s Name.)
4. You must also state your children’s names, if this is applicable. Therefore, paragraph four will read, “I have (number of) children. They are named, (Child/ren’s Names.) If any of your children are minors, then you’ll also need to assign a guardian/s for them.
5. You will now name the person you choose to be the administrator of your will. This position used to be called, “Executor” if the person was a male, and “Executrix” is the person chosen was a female. Choose your administrator carefully. They will be in charge of carrying out your final wishes.
You’ll write this paragraph like this, “I appoint (Name) to act as the Administrator of this will, and to serve without bond. Should (Administrator’s Name) become unable or unwilling to serve, then I appoint (Alternative Administrator’s Name)to act as the Administrator of this will.
6. The next paragraph will direct how you wish this person to handle your financial affairs, such as paying taxes, funeral costs, final expenses, and so forth.
7. Then, in the seventh paragraph, you’ll start “bequeathing” your belongings to your family, friends, et cetera. For example, this is where you leave your antique rocking chair to your daughter, Jill.
If you’re legally married, you’ll probably want to end this section with a paragraph that reads, “I hereby give all the rest and residue of my estate to my spouse, (Spouse’s Name), should (he/she) survive me. If my spouse, (Name),
does not survive me, I give all the rest and residue of my estate to (List Alternate Beneficiary.) If neither (Spouse’s Name) nor (Alternate Beneficiary), survives me, I give all the rest and residue of my estate to my heirs as determined by the laws of the State.
The “rest and residue” of your estate are the items that you did not specifically bequeath to someone in the seventh paragraph.
Finally, you will need to sign your will in front of two witnesses who are of legal age. These two witnesses cannot be mentioned anywhere else in your Last Will and Testament. Your two witnesses do not need to read your will. They are only verifying the fact that it was signed by you, and not someone else.
Your final paragraph will read something like this:
“I hereby affix my signature to this, my Last Will and Testament, on this
the (number) day of (Month), (Year), at (City), in the presence of the following witnesses: