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How to Write Your Own DIY Will

Looking to learn how to create a DIY Will without having to hire an attorney? We reveal the steps it takes to do so in our complete guide.

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Patrick Hicks, @PatrickHicks

Head of Legal, Trust & Will

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To say Estate Planning is important is a huge understatement. Because it’s not just important. We’d actually argue it’s one of the single most important things you’ll do in life. Your Estate Plan will protect you, your loved ones and the legacy you’ve worked your entire life building. 

But a lot of people feel overwhelmed at the thought of creating a comprehensive, complete Estate Plan. That’s where we come in. Let us help you, because all you really need to do is commit to getting started. And if you aren’t sure how to do that, we suggest starting with a Will. It’s simple, effective and won’t take you more than 15 minutes to complete. 

Keep reading to learn how easy it actually is to write your own DIY Will with an online Estate Planning platform like Trust & Will. You'll learn:

How to Write Your Own Will in 7 Steps

Writing your own Will is a relatively simple process. There are some things you need to make sure you do, but generally you just have to follow a few basic steps and you’ll essentially have a DIY Will template that’s going to cover all your bases and ensure your estate, family and loved ones are covered, both now and in the future. 

  1. Create the document - If you’re using an online service like Trust & Will, you’ll start by selecting the product you want to build, in this case, a Will. 

  2. Name an Executor and beneficiaries - Selecting an Executor is important. He or she will be charged with ensuring your wishes are honored, and will oversee the settling of your estate. They will communicate regularly with any beneficiaries who you leave assets or property to, and they’ll eventually handle the distribution of assets. Identifying your beneficiaries is necessary so that your estate will be properly divided up amongst your heirs and loved ones, per your direction or wishes. 

  3. Appoint a guardian - If you have children or any dependents you care for, you want to legally name a guardian to care for them in the event you’re no longer able to do so on your own. Guardianship can be the one piece of an estate that fosters the most contention, as there may be multiple people in your life who feel they’re best-suited to take over the role of caretaker. While it’s nice to know that many people may want to protect your children, if you want someone specific to have that honor, you should identify them so there’s no confusion or question. 

  4. Organize your assets - Organizing your assets will make it easier for you to list them in your Estate Planning documents, which will in turn make things easier for your Executor. Things to think about could include:

    • Property (real and personal)

    • Cash - checking and savings accounts

    • Any form of business ownership

    • Royalties, copyrights, patents 

    • Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, other forms of business ownership

    • Possessions

    • Etc. 

  5. Sign your Will in front of witnesses (and notarize if necessary) - Be sure to sign your Will in a manner that’s acceptable to your state, in front of the appropriate number of witnesses. Find out if your state requires Wills be notarized, and if necessary, see a Notary. ***It’s worth noting that unlike many of the other online Estate Planning platforms out there, Trust & Will has state-specific forms that are developed by knowledgeable attorneys and experts in Estate Planning - so you can trust you’re creating the right document for your state. 

  6. Store your Will - Store your Will in a safe place and tell anyone who would need to know where it’s located. Many people opt for a safety deposit box to store their Estate Plans, but be forewarned this can be complicated, as gaining entry may be difficult for your family after you pass away. A fireproof safe is ideal, as is the newer concept of a Legacy Drawer. 

  7. Revisit your Will regularly - Be sure to review your Will any time you have a major life event like a birth, death, marriage or divorce in the family. If you have no major events over the course of several years, a good rule of thumb is to revisit Estate Planning documents every three to five years.  

Looking for more in-depth information about Wills? Check out our What is a Will guide for a deeper breakdown of Wills.  

Can You Write a Will without a Lawyer? 

In short, yes, you can create a Will without a lawyer. In fact, knowing how to write a Will without a lawyer is as easy as simply following the above steps - you can make your Will without ever having to consult a lawyer, saving you a lot of time and money.

Are Online Wills Legitimate? 

If they’re complete, then yes, online Wills should be legitimate. However, it’s important to note the difference between an online DIY Will kit (one-size-fits-all templates that you download and fill out on your own), and an online Estate Planning platform, like Trust & Will. Even if you decide to use the more-trusted way (an online platform), keep in mind that all platforms are not all created equally. 

DIY Will Pros and Cons 

Considering a DIY Will? Review the pros and cons before making your decision.

Pros of DIY Wills:

  • Can be written quickly 

  • Save money

  • Ideal for small estates that may not warrant legal counsel 

  • May be an easy route if no minor children 

  • Work well in “simple” family dynamics - IE, no remarriages or divorces

Cons of DIY Wills:

  • If anyone contests your DIY Will after you pass away, the time and money you originally saved could end up being spent as the probate process drags out 

  • Some DIY kits can have traps - for example, large sections of blank spaces could result in fraud

  • There is the potential for misunderstanding language in a generic DIY Will template that you might find somewhere for free. This could lead to inadvertent errors or misses

Best Online Will Maker 

It’s true; there are many options out there for you to choose from when you’re trying to figure out what is the best online Will service, and we admit...we’re a bit biased. But let us share why we think (know) Trust & Will is superior. 

Our online Estate Planning documents were all created by lawyers, so you can be confident you’re preparing a plan that will hold up in court. And if you need help? Our customer support is unparalleled - Just ask any one of our happy customers. We’ve got a 4.9/5 star rating, from more than 1,000 customers on Trustpilot!  

Our driving mission is to create affordable, legitimate, concrete Estate Plans for anyone who needs them. We’re pretty proud of what we’ve been able to do, and we think you’ll see why the moment you start your Estate Plan with us!  

If you’re ready to write your DIY Will, or if you need to update an existing Will or Estate Plan, there’s no time like today to get started. Creating your Will with a trusted online platform like Trust & Will is the perfect way to take that first step. 

We combine the ease of a DIY Will but are as legitimate as working with a lawyer. So if you’re ready to safeguard your future today so that you can worry less tomorrow, Get Started creating your own Will with Trust & Will!

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