UPDATED: December 16, 2019
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A simple will provides for the outright distribution of assets for an uncomplicated estate. You can write a simple will yourself, by filling out an easy form that you can buy from a stationery store, find in a book about will preparation, or find on-line from a reputable legal document website.
Although these forms are widely available and easy to use, doing a will without the guidance of an attorney can be risky. You need to be aware of state laws which may affect the distribution of your assets, even if you do not have a complex estate. Only an attorney well versed in estate law can advise you on the best type of will to use, and what to include.
If you do choose to write a simple will without the advice of an attorney, be sure you have it properly witnessed by at least two adults who are not beneficiaries and not closely related to you. They must see you sign the will and then they should sign immediately.
Below is a sample form which illustrates what a simple will usually contains. This form is merely an example, and not for your use.
Will of [Full Name of Person Making the will]
I, [Full Name of Person Making the Will], a resident of [City, State], hereby make this will and revoke all prior wills and codicils.
1. Personal Information:
a. I was born on [Date of Birth] in [Place of Birth]
b. I am married to [Name of Spouse], who I will refer to as "my spouse". We were married on [Date of Marriage] in [Place of Marriage].
IF SEPARATED ADD: We have been separated since [Date or Year of Separation, and if by court order or agreement, add pursuant to order of the _____ Court on date].
IF NEVER MARRIED: I am not married and I have never been married.
OR, IF PREVIOUSLY MARRIED: I am not currently married but I was previously married to [Name of Last Spouse in YEAR OF MARRIAGE ] and the marriage ended by [STATE WHICH Death, Divorce, or Annulment] in [Year].
c. I have ____ [Number or the Word "No" if None] living children. IF YOU DO HAVE LIVING CHILDREN: LIST NAMES AND BIRTH DATES OF ALL CHILDREN, NATURAL OR ADOPTED. IF ANY OF YOUR CHILDREN HAVE DIED AND THEY LEFT A CHILD GIVE THE NAME OF DECEASED CHILD AND THE AND NAME OF EACH OF HIS OR HER LIVING CHILDREN
d. In the event I am the sole surviving parent of minor children, then I appoint _________________ to serve as their guardian. If he or she is unable or unwilling to serve, I appoint ____________________ as alternate guardian.
2. Benficiaries: I give my property to the following persons:
All to my spouse.
One-half (or other percentage) to my spouse and the balance to ____________.
One-third (or other percentage) to my spouse and the balance to my children, equally and their issue, per stirpes.
All to my children, equally, and their issue, per stirpes.
TO NAME BENEFICARY(IES) AND PERCENTAGES:
If any beneficiary under this will does not survive me by 30 days, then I shall be deemed to have survived such person.
3. PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OR EXECUTOR: I appoint ________________ as Executor of my will, and if s/he is unable or unwilling to serve, then I name _________________ as alternate Executor. My Executor and alternate shall have all powers granted by applicable laws of my state to carry out all provisions of this will, may use provisions and procedures for the simplified handling of estates, may hold in trust the share of any minor beneficiary until s/he reaches age 18, and shall not be required to post a bond.
I, _________________ [Your Printed Name], hereby sign this will at _______ [City and State] on this ______ day of ______________, 200_
_________________ [signature ]
_________________ [Your Typed Name]
GET THREE PEOPLE, WHO ARE ALL THERE AT THE SAME TIME TO SEE YOU SIGN THE WILL, TO IMMEDIATELY SIGN THIS ATTESTATION. A WILL THAT IS NOT PROPERLY WITNESSED IS NOT VALID!
Each of us hereby states, under penalties of perjury, that on this _____ day of __________, 200_, at _______________________________________[Name of City, State] we observed ________________________ [Full Name of Person Making the Will] who we know or who otherwise proved his/her identity to us, declare the above document to be his/her will. S/he then asked us to serve as his/her witnesses and then signed the document in our presence. S/he appeared to be an adult, of sound mind and memory, and acting of his/her own free will, and not under any force or duress. We are now, immediately after s/he signed the will, signing our names in his/her presence.
_________________ [Signature of Witness #1]
_________________ [Printed name of Witness #1]
_________________ [Address of Witness #1]
_________________ [Signature of Witness #2]
_________________ [Printed name of Witness #2]
_________________ [Address of Witness #2]
_________________ [Signature of Witness #3]
_________________ [Printed name of Witness #3]
_________________ [Address of Witness #3]