A last will and testament is a document detailing how a person’s assets will be distributed after their death. It also lists the names of one or more people, known as executors, who will oversee this distribution.
A last will and testament may also be known by other, less formal names, including:
Will and testament
Who should use this form?
Any legally competent person who is 18 or older can make a last will and testament.
If you want to specify how your assets will be distributed after your passing, you can use our last will and testament form to do so. Clearly outlining your wishes makes dividing your estate a much easier task. It can also help prevent conflict between your loved ones during the process.
However, you should consult a lawyer if your assets are larger than the federal estate tax exemption amount.
What to include in a last will and testament
Your last will and testament should name the individual or group who will serve as the executor of your estate. This executor is responsible for distributing your assets, paying back any debts using the estate's funds, and other duties. Make sure they’re a trustworthy person who’s organized and good with numbers.
Your last will and testament should also include a detailed list of your assets and the people or organizations you would like to leave them to. Your assets can be large items like houses or motor vehicles, smaller items like CDs or pieces of furniture, or digital assets like blogs or domain names. You can give specific assets to different people, or bequeath your entire estate to one person.
If you have minor children, your last will and testament should also outline who you would like to care for them when you're gone.
Once you have completed your last will and testament form, you’ll have to sign and date it. You’ll need to do this in front of 2 witnesses who can attest that you were of sound mind. These witnesses must also sign and date your last will and testament. Different states have different restrictions on who can witness a last will and testament, so make sure you comply with these.
In addition, some states require last will and testaments to be notarized. But even if it's not a legal requirement, getting your will notarized can make it more credible if anyone challenges the will in court.
Store your completed last will and testament form in a safe place, such as a home safe or a safe deposit box, and make sure some trusted people (such as your spouse, children, and/or estate planning lawyer) know where to find it. You may also want to make copies for these people.
It’s also a good idea to review and amend your will occasionally, such as when you make major purchases or welcome grandchildren. In many cases, you can use a codicil to amend your will rather than redrafting it altogether.