Most people know that they should have a will, but many don’t know what a will is and how it works.
A will, sometimes called a “last will and testament,” is a document that states your final wishes. It is read by a county court after your death, and the court makes sure that your final wishes are carried out.
Most people use a will to leave instructions about what should happen to their property after they die. However, you can also use a will to
You shouldn’t try to use a will to:
To learn more, read What a Will Won’t Do. If you want to do any of these things, get help from a lawyer.
There are very few legal requirements for wills. To make a will in any U.S. state, you must:
No state requires your will to be notarized, although you may use a notarized self-proving affidavit that will make your will easier to get through probate after your death.
A few states allow you to make a handwritten “holographic” wills, that don’t have to be signed by witnessed. However, handwritten wills should only be used when you do not have time to make a formal will because they are much more susceptible to challenge after your death.You can make your will online, quickly and easily, using Nolo's Online Will.
You can write a will yourself, or you can hire a lawyer to write one for you. If you write one yourself, you’ll want to find a good will template to help you. To learn more about finding and using a good will template read Using a Will Template and Types of Will Templates.
There are no magic words that must be used to create a will. The best advice for writing your own will is to find a good will writing tool to help you. It should help you use clear, unambiguous language to accurately describe your wishes. It should also explain your options and help you decide what to include in your will. For example,
And a good will making template will help you know when you should see a lawyer for help writing your will. For example, you should talk to a lawyer if you: