Writing your own will from a template makes it easy to create your last will and testament. Scroll down for a free simple will template to work from. However, making a free will from a template has its drawbacks. When writing a will, you can easily miss crucial facts about yourself that you didn’t consider. Working with experienced legal counsel can help you avoid the pitfalls of using a free Last Will and Testament Template to make your will.

Who Can Make a Will?

You can prepare a last will and testament if you are over 18 and are of sound mind. Your will gives you the ability to leave assets to your family and loved ones. Whether you want to leave an IRA, an antique bed, or a vehicle, your will spells out your wishes when you die.

You don’t have to get a last will and testament notarized for it to be a valid will. However, you do need two witnesses to sign the document in your presence. 

Getting Started: Gather Your Information

If you gather all of your asset information together, it is easier to think through how to write your will. You’ll need:

  • Property deeds
  • Life insurance policies
  • Marriage and divorce certificates
  • Name and addresses of your heirs
  • Information for retirement or other types of accounts 

Watch Out For

One thing to be careful of is leaving property or joint accounts to loved ones not listed on the account. 

Let’s say you own a house with your wife. You are both owners with right-of-survivorship. Even if you leave your home to your child in your will, the home will pass to your wife. Your home is not yours to give when you die because your wife owns the house with you with the right of survivorship. When you die, she automatically and immediately inherits the home. 

Another issue to watch out for is beneficiary inheritances. If you own a retirement fund or life insurance policy with your daughter listed as the beneficiary, she will own those accounts after your death. Your will cannot leave those accounts to your son if you’ve already left them to your daughter in account beneficiary designations.

What If I Don’t Make a Will?

A will is crucial for your estate (your estate is everything you own). Without a will, everything you own will go through NC intestate law and pass to heirs according to arbitrary state laws. Depending on your family relationships, these intestate laws could leave part of your home to your parents and part to your wife. 

You also name your executor when you write a will. This executor is the individual who will divide your estate according to your wishes. The probate court will expect them to inventory everything you own before giving anything to heirs. This process can take a long time and cost a portion of your estate. The executor you choose needs to carry out the tasks of the probate court so someone you trust with money smarts and communication skills is a good bet.

There are ways to avoid probate court entirely so that your estate passes directly to your heirs. Opening a trust is one way to avoid probate. Talk with your attorney to find out more about avoiding probate court for your loved ones. 

Guardianship

If you have any children, a will lets you name a future guardian for them. This is a crucial part of writing a will for parents with young children. WIthout stating who you would like to care for your children as guardian, they can be placed with someone you would actively disapprove of. 

If you don’t have family willing to take them in, the state can put them in the foster care system. Writing your will and naming a guardian can prevent this problem. You never know who might be willing to act as a guardian for your children until you ask. The future lives of your loved ones are at stake, so it’s worth planning for. 

Keep Your Will Updated

If you write your will and let your family know, you’ve done more than many people to prepare your loved ones for the unexpected. However, if there are changes in your family situation such as new babies, a divorce, a death, changes in retirement accounts, etc, you may need to update or modify your will. 

Modifying a will is not difficult and can easily be taken care of. Working with your estate planning attorney makes changing your estate planning documents easy. 

We Can Help

If the template below isn’t what you’re looking for, we can help you write a last and testament that suits your needs. You can use the template below to make your own simple will, but we’d appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and discuss how to make the best plans for your future and that of your family. Our experienced estate planning attorneys can work with you to make the most of your assets. We help maximize your assets now and make a plan to leave an inheritance to your children. Contact us today and find out how we can help you stay prepared for whatever may come. 

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Last Will and Testament Template

Below is a simple template created by the Duke Law Health Justice Clinic. You can use this for a simple will template. Give us a call with any questions or concerns you have as you make your will. Everyone’s situation is different, so no one will template will exactly fit everyone. 

LAST WILL OF [Your name] 

I, [Your name], domiciled in [Your County of residence] County, North Carolina, declare this to be my last will, hereby revoking all wills and codicils heretofore made by me. 

At the time of the execution of this Will, my immediate family group consists of my wife, [name of wife] (referred to in this Will as “my wife”) and my children, [children’s names] 

I

I direct that all my just debts, my funeral and burial expenses, and the cost of administration of my estate be paid out of the assets of my estate as soon as practicable after my death. However, I direct that my Executor may cause any debt to be carried, renewed and refinanced from time to time and upon such terms as my Executor may deem advisable taking into consideration the best interest of the beneficiaries hereunder. Provided further that any debts that could be barred by the applicable statutes of limitation shall not be paid as a debt of my estate. 

II

I direct that all taxes (including any interest and penalties thereon) imposed by any taxing authority because of my death shall be paid by my executor out of my residuary estate, specifically including taxes on life insurance and other non-probate assets. 

III

I give to my wife, if she shall survive me, all the tangible personal property which I own at the time of my death, including motor vehicles. If my said wife does not survive me, I give the same in shares of equal value among my children who survive me. My executor shall have the sole discretion to divide the property among my children, taking into consideration their wishes. I may leave a writing which, although not a part of my will, expresses my desires concerning the disposition of certain of my tangible personal property. I request, but do not require, that my wishes as set forth in any such writing be observed. If, with respect to the above made bequests, to effect delivery of my tangible personal property to a beneficiary, it becomes necessary to incur expenses of shipment to complete the delivery, my estate and not the beneficiary who is to receive that bequest, shall arrange for and pay the costs of shipment incurred in making such delivery. 

IV

I give all the rest, residue and remainder of my estate to my wife, if she survives me. If my said wife does not survive me, I give all the rest, residue and remainder of my estate in shares of equal value to my children who survive me. My executor shall have the sole discretion to divide the property among my children, taking into consideration their wishes. 

V

If any beneficiary and I should die under circumstances as would render it doubtful whether the beneficiary or I died first, or if any beneficiary should die within thirty (30) days of me, then it shall be conclusively presumed for purposes of this my will that said beneficiary predeceased me. 

VI

In this Will, the terms “executor” and “testator” are used to refer to both male and female individuals, in lieu of using the terms “executrix” and “testatrix.” 

VII

I appoint my [Relationship of Executor to Testator], [Name of Executor] of [Executor’s County of residence] County, North Carolina to be executor of this my last will. If my [Relationship of Executor to Testator], [Name of Executor], shall predecease me or for any reason shall fail to qualify as executor hereunder, or having qualified, shall die or resign, then I appoint my [Relationship of alternate to testator], [Name of alternate executor], of [Alternate’s county of residence] County, North Carolina, as substitute or successor executor. My executor, and any successor, shall serve without bond. 

VIII

I give and grant to my Executor and to any successor Executor all of the powers enumerated in North Carolina General Statutes Section 32-27 and Section 28A-13-3, which powers are hereby incorporated by reference and shall be considered a part of this Will. These powers are granted pursuant to N. C. General Statutes ‘ 32-26 and shall be in addition to and not in limitation of the common law and statutory powers of fiduciaries. 

IX

Except as otherwise directed in this will, whenever the executor or the trustee of any trust under this will is directed to distribute any money or property to a person who is under twenty-one-years of age on the date of such distribution, the executor or trustee shall be authorized to make such distribution to an adult person duly appointed by such executor or trustee as Custodian for such person under the North Carolina Uniform Transfers to Minors Act. 

I, [Your name] the testator, sign my name to this instrument this ___________ day of 

 

____________________________, [Current year], and being first duly sworn, do hereby declare to the undersigned authority that I sign and execute this instrument as my last will and that I sign it willingly (or willingly direct another to sign for me), that I execute it as my free and voluntary act for the purposes therein expressed, and that I am eighteen years of age or older, of sound mind, and under no constraint or undue influence.

 

_________________________________ [Your name] 

 

We, ______________________________________ , and 

 

____________________________________, the witnesses, sign our names to this instrument, being first duly sworn, and do hereby declare to the undersigned authority that the testator signs or places his mark before me and executes this instrument as his last will and that he signs it willingly (or willingly directs another to sign for him), and that each of us, in the presence and hearing of the testator, hereby signs this will as witness to the testator’s signing, and to the best of our knowledge, the testator is eighteen years of age or older, of sound mind, and under no constraint or undue influence. 

 

_____________________________________ WITNESS 

 

_____________________________________ WITNESS

 

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA COUNTY OF ______________ Subscribed, sworn to and acknowledged before me by [Your name], the testator, and subscribed and sworn to before me 

 

by witnesses, __________________________________, and 

 

____________________________this ________day of ________________________,[Current year]. 

 

____________________________________ Notary Public (SEAL) My commission expires:____________________ 

 

Footnotes:

  1. https://web.law.duke.edu/sites/default/files/clinics/healthjustice/wills_forms_tab_2015.pdf
  2. https://www.ncleg.gov/Laws/GeneralStatuteSections/Chapter31