You are more likely to create a legally valid will with all essential parts included if you have at least one consultation with an attorney. Many senior citizen centers have a legal aid assistance program. The center in your county might give you a certificate to pay for all or part of the legal fees to do a will.
We recommend that you call your local senior center and inquire about this program. Whether you write your own will or seek legal help, learn more about the parts necessary in a legal will.
Ask your library for “Wills: A Do-It-Yourself Guide.” It contains sections needed in a will and lists legal requirements in each state and other helpful suggestions. The book contains forms you can copy and fill in to create your own legal will. Filling out these forms before you see an attorney will help the attorney create your will quickly.
In Ohio, for example, you need at least two, preferably three, witnesses to sign your legal will. But the witnesses must not be beneficiaries and they need to sign a statement, not just sign their signature after you sign yours. A witness has to sign a statement similar to this one in “Wills: A Do-It-Yourself Guide”:
“This codicil was signed, published and declared by (your name) on (date) in the presence of all of us. At her request and in her presence and in the presence of each other, we now sign as witnesses and declare that to the best of our knowledge she appeared to be of legal age, of sound mind and memory, and under no constraint or undue influence at the time she executed the will. We declare this to be true under penalty or perjury (signature of the witness.)”
It is also important in a testament to mention what you want given to a spouse and every child. Even if you are leaving nothing in your will to them, a spouse and children should be mentioned so that no doubts of your intentions exist. You can save your heirs some money by saying in your will “No bond shall be required of my executor.”
Also, if your estate is large enough to face an estate tax, then you may save money by consulting a lawyer or tax professional.