How to write your own will (experts from Lawrina)

  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Writing your own will can be quite unnerving as you have to reflect on your own mortality and the emotions of your loved ones when you are gone. However, a will is one of the most vital documents you can ever have - it takes care of your assets and loved ones in your absence. But how do you write a will? 

Though the obvious answer is to seek an attorney, you can pay for an online legal service, or buy an online DIY sample kit. You can download a good sample last will testament on any legal and legit website. The sample should be simple, customizable, and comply with state laws. 

Alternatively, you can write your own will if you have a simple will. However, you must fulfill some conditions to ensure its validity. In this article, we will guide you on how to write your own will and also show you the benefits of writing a will.

Meaning Of A Will

A will, also called a last will testament, is a legal document or testament that represents your last wishes regarding assets for loved ones left behind upon your death. The owner of a will is sometimes called a testator. 

Having a will ensures that your spouse and children inherit your assets. You can also assign other beneficiaries of your choice. In short, it helps you to maintain control of your legacy even after you are gone.

On the other hand, dying without writing a will (dying intestate) leaves the decision of how best your assets and finances should be redistributed to a probate court which may not fairly benefit your family members. 

Therefore, writing and signing a will during your lifetime is important since the benefits can be life-changing for your beneficiaries. Also, you can protect your family members from unnecessary court proceedings by finalizing your will before your death.

Types Of A Will 

There are several varieties of wills. Each depends on your situation. They include: 

  • Testamentary trust will: This is the most familiar type. This will is prepared and signed before witnesses, and can also be notarized. 
  • Simple will: This type of will is simply for individuals with simple situations. It outlines what happens to a person's assets upon their death. 
  • Holographic will: This will is handwritten by the individual without signatures from witnesses. On the other hand, it might not be considered valid in some states. 
  • Oral will: This is when a will is spoken by the testator in front of witnesses but without writing it down. It is hardly recognized in court. 
  • Pour-over will: Usually written together with a Trust.
  • Mutual will: This is for married couples to ensure that assets are passed down to the children in the event of a new spouse. 
  • Deathbed will: This is created in emergencies when a person is critically ill or close to dying.

Four Ways To Write A Will 

The four ways to write a will include: 

  1. Paying a lawyer or an attorney in-person: You can hire a lawyer or an attorney to write your will for you, after which you'll sign the document - though it is expensive. This option is best if you have a complicated family, own a business, or own a lot of property in different states. 
  2. Pay for an online legal service: Several online companies advertise services such as Estate planning. Before patronizing these online services, make sure you read their customer reviews and that their work is well-reviewed by professional attorneys to ensure its legal validity. 
  3. Buying a DIY sample: A last will and testament DIY sample helps to guide you on how to make a will. It is a less-pricey option than paying for legal services both in-person and online.
  4. Writing your own will: If your will is simple, you can save legal costs by drafting your own will. 

How To Write Your Own Will 

According to a 2022 survey by, 67% of Americans do not have a will - with the major reason being procrastination. Now, the major question is “Can you write your own will?” The answer is Yes. However, there are basic conditions your will must fulfill to make it valid and admissible in court.

Three Criteria For A Valid Will

  1. Legal age and of sound mind - Before you write, you must be 18 years and above and of sound mind. Being of sound mind means that you are mentally stable, clearly aware of your actions, and not under duress or the influence of drugs.
  2. Written and signed - This is important in eliminating forgery or illegal alterations. Your will must be a written document and duly signed by you and two other willing witnesses. Some states like New Jersey accept handwritten documents so long as it has been ascertained to be the will of the deceased and in their own handwriting.
  3. Stamped by a notary 

Before you write your own will, first get a last will and testament sample to guide you through the drafting. Then, you can take the steps below to write your own will.  

How To Prepare A Simple Will 

Step 1: Clearly write out the title of your document. Make sure to also write your most recent full legal name towards the beginning and include other names you might have used in the past. 

Step 2: Name the executor(s) of your will. This must be someone trustworthy. 

Step 3: Name a guardian for any of your minors. Usually, guardianship goes to the spouse if they are still alive and competent.

Step 4: Detail a list of your inheritable assets in the form of Estate planning. These include any legal property or possession in your name. 

Step 5: Write down the names of your beneficiaries and the respective assets they will receive from you. Clearly state and describe who will inherit which asset in the document.

Step 6: Write down what happens to any residuary or unclaimed assets. In this case, you can make your favorite charity to be the residuary beneficiary. 

Step 7: Prepare and print your final draft.

Step 8: Contact at least two willing witnesses who are not beneficiaries and sign your will before them. They will also put down their own signatures as evidence. 

Step 9: If necessary, visit a notary public for stamping. 

Step 10: Scan the signed document to make a digital copy and print different hard copies.

Step 11: Secure the original copy in a safe location like in a bank deposit box. 

Step 12: Set a period, like every 2-3 years, to revisit and update your will even if there were no major events that occurred within the period. Your opinion on your beneficiaries or what asset you deem important might have changed within the period.

Things To Avoid Putting In Your Will

  • Joint tenancy real estate 
  • The beneficiary of life insurance 
  • Bequeathing illegal assets 
  • Assigning assets to pets

Benefits Of Writing A Will 

  • Informs the beneficiaries of your assets 
  • Less stressful and eliminates disputes for your loved ones 
  • Freedom to appoint a trusted executor 
  • Bypasses time-consuming court proceedings 
  • It allows you to appoint guardians for your children. 
  • Having a will avoids intestate where your assets are controlled or distributed by the court.
  • Reduces the amount of inheritance tax payable on the value of your property and the money you leave behind.


Though having to write your own will is off-putting, it is still a vital legal document. It ensures your wishes are fulfilled after your death. 

You can write your own will without hiring a lawyer or an attorney by purchasing a DIY sample or simply following the steps we outlined above.

This article was written in cooperation with Evelina Brown