Can You Write Your Own Will?

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on June 01, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Everyone knows that it's important to have a will. Not everyone, however, can afford to pay someone to write a will. This, of course, leaves the curious wondering whether or not it's even possible to write your own will. As in, without an attorney.

The basic answer is yes, you can write your own will.

Of course, the more complicated answer is that, depending on how you wish to gift your property and state law, it might not be the best idea.

A will basically does two things: disposes of your property at death and names a guardian for any underage children.

If you have no minor children, and you wish to make simple gifts of your property, then it might not be that big of a deal to write a will.

However, complex gifts require complex language that, if improperly stated, won't be legally enforceable. Therefore, if you want to split your property in many different and unequal ways, or gift specific items to specific people, it might not be wise to write your own will.

In addition to using the proper language when writing a will, states also require wills to meet certain formalities.

Most jurisdictions require witness signatures, notarization, inclusion of specific provisions, and that the will be typed. And if your state allows hand-written wills, a whole set of other requirements must be met for a will to be valid.

If your state's rules aren't particularly complicated and your property wishes are simple, then you can probably look up the law and write your own will or use an online service. But if you're broaching complex territory, it would be wise to pay an attorney to write a will for you.

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