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Estate Planning

Four Ways to Write A Will For Free

Happy senior couple going through home finances and using computer at home.

If you have yet to write a will, you aren’t alone. Visiting an attorney to have a will drawn up can be nerve-wracking, so it’s understandable that many people never get round to it. But writing a will doesn’t have to be costly. Here are five ways to write one for little to no money.

  1. Create an oral will

Dying intestate (without a will) can cause major problems for any family members you leave behind. In actual fact, you’d have to die incredibly swiftly to pass away intestate. An oral will, sometimes called a deathbed will, is spoken, and can be used as a will of last resort. Very few states legally recognize oral wills, but some do if there are at least three witnesses. Creating an oral will is free but may cause untold stress for anyone included as it can be challenged in court after your death. If the will is contested, your family or those mentioned in the will may not be left with what you intended.

  1. Make a holographic will

A holographic will is one that you simply hand-write yourself, date it, and sign. As it isn’t witnessed by anyone, under half of the US states formally recognize this type of will. Much like oral wills, holographic wills can be challenged, potentially causing a feud between those mentioned in the will after you pass away. Although creating a holographic will is free, your family may get a lot less than you wanted them to have if the will is challenged and legal fees become an issue.

  1. Ask a charity for help

If you want to avoid the potential pitfalls of an oral will or holographic will, you may be able to find a local charity that can help. Many charities team up with professional legal services to provide people with free will writing services. The only proviso is that you offer to make a charitable donation or pay a token amount for an attorney to check your will for you. If you planned to leave money to charity anyway, this can be a win-win situation. You can make a donation and get a professionally written will for free. Unlike other free options, this route will give you a legally water-tight will that offers peace of mind.

  1. Use a DIY will kit

DIY will kits offer a highly cost-effective option for those looking to write a will on a budget. DIY wills are fine for most people with small estates provided they follow the guidance. These wills must be correctly filled out and signed by two independent witnesses. These witnesses can’t be people who stand to benefit from the will, or be married to someone who will. It’s worth getting two executors who deal with dividing up your estate upon your death. If one passes away before you, you still won’t have to worry about your will being invalidated. A major problem with DIY wills is that people forget to update them after major events. For example, getting married invalidates a will, but getting divorce doesn’t.

Conclusion

If you were interested in writing a will for free, or nearly free, hopefully these four ideas have helped. Provided you keep your will regularly updated, there’s no reason why you need to pay exorbitant fees to leave your loved ones as much of your estate as possible. Whichever option you choose, it’s important to review your will periodically after major life events such as marriage and divorce.

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