Free Guide & Tips to Prepare a Will.
We are all going to die. Sorry, but it’s true. So, to make sure your loved
ones receive what YOU want them to have, you must have a Will. Do not let the government make those decisions for
you. A Will is not difficult to make on your own. You could pay an attorney a couple of hundred dollars, or you
could read this advice.
1. If you die without a Will, state law determines who gets your property. Every state has its
own rules, but generally your closest relatives will get your property. Even if you don’t want them to have it.
2. A holographic Will is handwritten. Holographic Wills are legal in about half the states. To
be valid, a holographic Will must be written, dated and signed in the handwriting of the person making the Will.
When preparing your own Will.
3. When you make a Will, it’s not necessary to name an executor, but it’s always a very good
idea to do so. The executor is the person who will handle your property after you die. If you don’t name someone
to take the job, the court will appoint someone, an administrator, for you.
4. A Will does not need to be recorded or filed with any government agency, although it can be
in a few states. Just keep your Will in a safe, accessible place and be sure the person in charge of settling your
affairs (your executor) knows where it is.
5. A Living Will is not a Will. It’s a legal document, sometimes called a health care directive,
that ensures your wishes for health care will be respected if ever you are unable to speak for yourself.
6. With a few important exceptions, property left by a Will must go through probate, the legal
process of proving in court that a Will is valid. Once the Will is determined to be legal, they distribute the
deceased person’s property as mentioned in the Will. However, most states allow a certain amount of property to
pass free of probate, or through a simplified probate procedure. Any property left to a surviving spouse avoids
probate altogether. Beyond this, you must use other legal devices, such as a Living Trust, to avoid probate.
7. A Living Trust is a popular probate avoidance device that you create by preparing and signing
a trust document. When you die, the property in the trust is distributed directly to the trust beneficiaries, without
probate. Your Will is an essential back-up device for property that you don’t transfer into the trust. If you don’t
have a Will, any property that isn’t transferred by your Living Trust or other probate avoidance device (such as
joint tenancy), will go to your closest relatives as determined by state law.
8. A codicil is a separate legal document that, after it has been signed and properly witnessed,
changes or amends a Will. To avoid confusion, however, it’s often best to prepare a brand new Will rather than
a codicil, especially if you are using a computer Will program. It won’t take long to prepare a new computer-generated
Will, and the signing and witnessing requirements for both are the same.
9. While it is true that all property you own at your death is taxed, the amount of this tax
is automatically set off by a large tax credit. The amount of this credit depends on the year of your death; it’s
$650,000 in 1999. The result is that most estates, more than 98% by one estimate, owe no federal estate taxes at
10. Sitting down and writing a Will can take a lot of time, and may be very confusing. Using
computer software will make the job much easier, save you tons of money, and you’ll have a more complete legal