Guide to Creating a Legally Binding Will

Written by Julia on October 21, 2015

Sitting down to write your legally binding will or encouraging your aging parents to do so may put you in a melancholy mood. You shouldn’t think of it as a sign that death is imminent but, instead, as preparing for the future. Taking care of the legal documents involved in estate planning should give you peace of mind and a sense of relief.

Remember, once you or your parents are gone, if the will hasn’t been executed by an attorney or by an online legal service, the courts decide for the deceased parties.

How to Prepare

Some of the things you need to do to prepare your will include:

Jot down the names of your beneficiaries

They are the people you want to name on a trust or bequeath part or all of your estate to. The names can also be organizations or charities that you want to leave a piece of your estate.

Decide who will be the executor of your estate and who will be the back up if that person dies before you

This person is in charge of paying your bills, taxes and other financial obligations from your estate after your death. Once these obligations are taken care of, the executor oversees the distribution of the remaining estate. Often, people choose their oldest child, a trusted friend or someone else who can be trusted to follow their wishes.

Designate guardians to raise and provide for any dependent children

It is also important to designate someone to take care of your aging parents if you precede them in death. This person will oversee finding senior care for your parents if they aren’t able to care for themselves.

Obtaining a Will

Now that you are prepared, the best ways to obtain a will include:

Contact an elder law attorney and take all the notes you prepared

Another viable option is to visit the website of an online legal service.

Ask the lawyer any questions that concern you

If you are using an online legal service, you can likley chat with a representative. Look for a toll-free number you can call for answers to any questions.

Choose two disinterested people to sign the document once it has been legally prepared

They will act as witnesses to the signing and should be people who aren’t named in your will. If the will is prepared online, have the witnesses sign in each other’s presence once your copy arrives in the mail. In some states, the will must be notarized.

Store a copy of the will in your home

It is best to keep the document in a safe, so invest in one that is fire- and waterproof. Your attorney will keep a copy, and you should give a copy to your executor.

Look at your will every couple of years and change it if necessary

Once your children become adults, they don’t need a guardian, but you should still name a guardian in the event one of them becomes disabled. The birth of a child, a divorce or marriage, or loss or gain of property are all valid reasons to update or change your will.


Don’t put off creating a legally binding will just because you feel healthy, able-bodied and don’t want to think of your demise. Knowing your loved ones will be taken care of in the event of your death and that a lifetime of possessions will be given to people you choose gives most people peace of mind and a great feeling of security.