Free Last Will and Testament Templates

what is the Last Will and Testament? A ‘last will and testament’ is a legal instrument that you use to express your final wishes and desires more so with regards to the manner in which you want your possessions to be disposed of to your dependents.

When do you require a “Last Will and Testament”?

You require this document when you are getting old fast to the point of nearing your death. The same might also apply when you suffer from a chronic illness, almost incapacitated or likely to get in a vegetative state. The form is necessary to dispel any ambiguities which are bound to arise after you are gone.

People Involved in a “Last Will and Testament”

Grantor

Grantor refers to you, or the person who actually drafts the ‘last will and testament.’ It is this party who owns the pieces of property which are to be disposed of upon death.

Beneficiaries

These are the persons who stand to inherit the said pieces of the property upon the death of the grantor.

The Executor

The executor is the one who implements the provisions of the will. He carries out the wishes of the grantor that are expressed in the will. In many cases, he is charged with the responsibility of transferring the will for probate.

Witnesses

It is the witnesses who verify that the will was not only drafted by the grantor but also contains contents that are accurate, free, fair, and devoid of any errors.

How to Make a Will?

To make the ‘last will and testament’ you have to follow the procedures stipulated here below:

Step I: Determine the property you would wish to pass on

As a first step, you have to determine the exact pieces of property you would wish to pass on to your dependents. You do not have to pass on all your pieces of property to them. You may, in fact, opt to surrender some to a charity.

Step II: Determine the beneficiaries

Next, determine the beneficiaries of your property. Simply put: Who exactly would you wish to take over the possessions of your property upon your demise? Remember that they need not necessarily be your own children.

Step III: Settle on an executor to handle the estate

You will not determine who exactly handles your property after your death and before the same is taken over by your beneficiaries. This may be a firm or a person who is trusted and well known to you.

Step IV: Ascertain how the estate is to be shared out

Find out the formula which is to be used to divide your property to the beneficiaries you have already settled on. If the property is all about money, who takes how much? If it is land or any other tangible asset, who takes what, and how much?

Step V: Sign the will

Lastly, you have to sign the will. The aim of the signing is to make it official. As a matter of fact, the witnesses and the executioners must also append their signatures. Store the will safely for easy future access and use.

Last Will and Testament Forms (by State)

Last Will and Testament Template

Sample Last Will Template

    Signing Requirements by State

    StateExecution Requirements
     Alabama § 43-8-131
    Two Witnesses
     Alaska AS 13.12.502
    Two Witnesses
     Arizona § 14-2502
    Two Witnesses
     Arkansas § 28-25-102
    Two Witnesses
     California 6110
    Two Witnesses
     Colorado § 15-11-502
    Two Witnesses or Notary Public
     Connecticut Section 45a-251
    Two Witnesses
     Delaware DE Title 12, Chapter 2 § 201 & 202
    Two Witnesses
     Florida FL Section 732.502
    Two Witnesses
     Georgia GA Section 53-4-20
    Two Witnesses
     Hawaii HI Section 560:2-502
    Two Witnesses
     Idaho ID Section 15-2-502
    Two Witnesses
     Illinois Section 755 ILCS 5/4-3
    Two Witnesses
     Indiana IC 29-1-5-3
    Two Witnesses
     Iowa Section 633.279
    Two Witnesses
     Kansas Section 59-606
    Two Witnesses
     Kentucky Section 394.040
    Two Witnesses
     Louisiana Art. 1577
    Two Witnesses and a Notary Public
     Maine Section 2-502
    Two Witnesses
     Maryland Section 4-102
    Two Witnesses
     Massachusetts Section 2-502
    Two Witnesses
     Michigan Section 700-2502
    Two Witnesses
     Minnesota Section 524.2-502
    Two Witnesses
     Mississippi Section 91-5-1
    Two Witnesses
     Missouri Section 474.320
    Two Witnesses
     Montana Section 72-2-522
    Two Witnesses
     Nebraska Section 30-2327
    Two Witnesses
     Nevada NRS 133.040
    Two Witnesses
     New Hampshire Section 3B:3-2
    Two Witnesses
     New Jersey Section 3B:3-2
    Two Witnesses
     New Mexico Section 45-2-502
    Two Witnesses
     New York Section 3-1.1
    Two Witnesses
     North Carolina G.S. 31-3.3
    Two Witnesses
     North Dakota 30.1-08-02. (2-502)
    Two Witnesses
     Ohio ORC 2107.03
    Two Witnesses
     Oklahoma 84 OK Stat § 84-55
    Two Witnesses
     Oregon ORS 112.235
    Two Witnesses
     Pennsylvania Title 20 § 2502
    Two Witnesses
     Rhode Island Section 33-5-5
    Two Witnesses
     South Carolina Section 62-2-502
    Two Witnesses
     South Dakota Section 29A-2-502
    Two Witnesses
     Tennessee Section 32-1-104
    Two Witnesses
     Texas Sec. 251.051
    Two Witnesses
     Utah 75-2-502
    Two Witnesses
     Vermont 14 V.S.A. § 5
    Two Witnesses
     Virginia § 64.2-403
    Two Witnesses
     Washington CW 11.12.020
    Two Witnesses
     West Virginia Section 41-1-3
    Two Witnesses
     Wisconsin Section 853.03
    Two Witnesses
     WyomingSection 2-6-112
    Two Witnesses

    How to Amend a Will?

    To amend your ‘last will and testament,’ you will have to follow the steps spelled out here:

    Step I: Determine the changes you would like to implement

    Kick off the process by determining the specific changes you would like to implement. The changes are broad and varied. It is the exact change you want to implement that determines the method you will use to implement that change later.

    Step II: Decide how you want the amendment to be effected

    Having determined the change to implement, you now have to decide how exactly you want the amendment to be effected. If only a small change is needed, you need not overhaul the entire will. Only a codicil is necessary. You need to consult an attorney to prevent any errors at this stage.

    Step III: Jot down your desired changes

    Move on to jot down the changes you desire. You have to incorporate the exact months and dates when you effect the changes for future references. It is also advisable that you retain the previous format for the sake of consistency.

    Step IV: Append your signature alongside that of your witness

    Append your signature alongside that of your witness at this stage. In some states, you will have to notarize the signatures to make them valid and legally recognized. You, yet again, have to seek clarification from your attorney before proceeding.

    Step V: Attach the amendments to the original will (optional)

    If you used a codicil, this is the step to attach it to the original will. The step is hence unnecessary if you never used it in the first place. In case you opted to draft a fresh will, you are advised to destroy the original one and the associated codicils.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Which State will govern my Will?

    Generally, it is the state wherein you reside and your property is located that governs you will. If you happen to reside in one state but have the property in another one, it is the one wherein your property is located that governs it.

    Which type of property I can include in the will?

    Just about any other kind of property like real estate, cash, bonds, stocks, money market accounts, cars, furniture, artwork, and so on.

    What happens if a beneficiary dies?

    If a beneficiary dies before the will comes to effect, the principal can re-draft the will. In case the death occurs after the death of the principal but before the said pieces are shared out, the relevant state law comes into play.

    What happens if there is no beneficiary?

    Many states and jurisdictions automatically designate the inheritance of the deceased property to the spouses, blood relatives, and registered domestic partners. In such a case, the spouse gets the lion share of the inheritance.

    Can I appoint 2 executors?

    Yes, you may! You are however strongly advised against treading this path. There may be some conflicts after your death, a fact that might complicate the distribution of your estate upon your own death.

    Can I appoint an executor who is also a beneficiary?

    Broadly speaking, yes. But then again, a couple of states prohibit this practice. Those that permit it do limit the choice to spouses and members of the immediate nuclear family. Other extended family members are exempted from this provision though.