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If you are under 50 years of age, in good health, and expect no estate tax on your property at your death, you can simply and easily write your own will. There are a few basic requirements for writing a will, and some of these vary from state to state. Nonetheless, here are the things you should keep in mind.


1. In most states you must be 18 years old or considered emancipated to write a legal will.

2. A will must be typed or computer generated. (This does not include a holographic will which is a handwritten, unwitnessed will. Holographic wills are legal in 25 states.)

3. You must indicate somewhere on the document that it is your will.

4. A will must be dated and signed.

5. A will must be signed by at least two witnesses who actually saw you signing it. Some states require three witnesses.

A will does not have to be notarized to be legal, but this can be helpful if the will is contested. Be sure to keep the will in a safe, fireproof container, and let your executor know where it is. If you are using a safety deposit box, find out the bank's policy on who can access it after your death.


Your will should include to whom you are leaving your property and who your executor will be. If you have minor children you can also use your will to name a legal guardian. You will also need to name a trustee who will manage any property left to minor children. Consider naming separate individuals as legal guardian and trustee to prevent a conflict of interest. When naming a legal guardian, you should also name an alternate in the even your first choice is unable to care for your children.


1. Most states have laws protecting spouses from being disinherited.
2. You can disinherit a child in every state except Louisiana.
3. Some states do not recognize video wills.
4. Some states will recognize holographic and oral wills.
5. Some states require that witnesses not be listed as beneficiaries.