Estate Planning: Creating A Will - T. Rowe Price

Though state laws typically do not require the use of an attorney to create a valid will, an attorney is best suited to help you draw up your will and understand what assets and special directions you can and cannot include. You'll also want to make sure that all state requirements for executing and witnessing the will have been met. If you expect your estate to be subject to estate taxes, contacting an attorney to establish tax-saving measures can help maximize the amount that passes to your heirs. Consulting an estate planning attorney may help you to clarify your goals and to create or revise your will accordingly.

In many cases, you would execute your will, making it legally valid, by signing the written document in the presence of two credible people who sign the will as witnesses. If someone challenges the will after your death, the witnesses may be called to testify as to your capacity at the time you signed the document. Some states may have more involved or more lenient rules for creating and executing a will, so be sure to consult an attorney or your state's laws regarding wills. If your will is deemed invalid by the probate court or you do not have a will, the disposition of your estate would typically follow the laws of your state of legal residence.

Once you have completed your will, remember to review it at life changes for you or your heirs such as marriages, divorces, births, or deaths. Changes to your financial situation, such as making large purchases like a new home, and/or changes to estate taxes and probate procedures may also prompt important revisions to your will.