Can I make a will without a lawyer?

August 25, 2021

You must be wondering how Can I make a will without a lawyer? Let’s see how!

But before that let’s have a look at What is a Will?

A will is a legal instrument by which a person (known as ‘donor’) makes a disposition of his property to take effect after his death and which is in its nature ambulatory and revocable during his life.

This ambulatory character of a will is its prominent characteristic which distinguishes it from ordinary dispositions by a living person’s deed, that might indeed postpone the beneficial possession of vesting until the death of the disposer and yet would lead to such postponement only by its express terms under an irrevocable instrument and a statement that a final will does not implicate an agreement not to change it.

The will must contain the following three Characteristics:

  1. It must be “the legal declaration or statement” related to the intention of the testator.
  2. The declaration must be “regarding the property of the testator”.
  3. The testator has a desire that his “intention to be carried into effect after his death”.
Can I make a will without a lawyer

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Who can make a will?

Based on section 59 of the Indian Succession Act:

  • Any person of a sound mind
  • A person who has procured the age of majority.

Who cannot make a will?

  • Lunatics or insane persons.
  • Minors i.e. under the age of 18 years. If a guardian is designated to a minor, such minor reaches the age of maturity only at the age of 21 years.
  • Persons who are deaf or dumb or blind are not competent to make a will. They are considered incapacitated in making a will if they can know what they do by it.
  • A person, who is ordinarily insane, may make a will meanwhile he is of sound mind.
  • A person cannot make a will whilst he is in such a frame of mind, whether appearing from intoxication or disability or any other cause, so that he does not know about what he is doing.

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Can I make a will without a Lawyer?

The answer to this question is affirmative. Most people think that making a will is a complex procedure that requires the help of an attorney or a lawyer. However, this is not true, if you have a simple estate plan, then you can successfully write your own will without any lawyer. It is always legal to write your own will and this do-it-yourself approach might be a cost-saving choice, given how much it costs to draft a will with a lawyer.

You can draft a will with eSahayak also.
Just click here or on the Generate now button and answer a few questionnaires and your will is ready on your Fingertips and that too in just Rs. 349.
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Steps to make a will without a Lawyer

Once you decide to make your will, follow these steps:

  1. Create the basic document outline
    The first step is to decide how you’re going to make your own will i.e. choose between online and offline resources to help you make a DIY will, such as blank will forms, DIY will kit, how-to guides in libraries, bookstores, etc.

    However, offline resources are scarce as compared to online ones, which must comply with the state’s legal requirements and should be notarized. The most efficient option available for an online template of basic will is You can easily customize the will as per your preferences and it also provides the guidelines specific to the state where you live.
  2. Include the necessary language to make your will valid
    To make a will legally valid, regardless of how they are made, make sure your will is recognized by law. For that, you must do the following things:
  • State clearly in the document that this is your “last will and testament“.
  • Include your full legal name, so it’s obvious the document belongs to you
  • State that you’re of sound mind, and not under coercion from someone else to write your will.

Mention your full legal name, full address, and date at the bottom of the will. Include a line for your signature and supplementary spaces for names, addresses, dates, and signatures of each of the witnesses. These statements make it crystal clear that you intend for the document to function as your ‘last will and testament’. This clarity can prevent skepticism and obstruct others from contesting your will in probate court.

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  1. Choose an executor: An executor is charged with the duty and conferred with the power to carry out the directions contained in the will. He has to manage and receive the estate of the deceased, pay his debts, and disseminate the legacies. The petition for obtaining probate of the will shall be filed by the executor and this probate shall be granted by the court only to an executor who has been named in the will.

    Hence, an executor is a person who will handle the business of probating your will and distributing your property. An alternative executor can also be chosen in case your first choice is unavailable. Choose someone trustworthy who understands your situation. Many people choose their spouse, partner, major child, or close friend/ relative to fulfil this duty. Choose a successor executor if your original choice cannot serve in this role at the time of your death.
  2. Make a list of your assets: For this, all your assets must be included whether they are Physical property or Financial assets. The physical property includes your home, vehicles, ancestral property, family heirlooms, etc. whereas the Financial Assets include your bank assets, investment, Fixed deposits, insurance policy, retirement accounts, etc.

    The property should be listed unambiguous, clear, precise, and specific. For example- instead of writing “the house goes to my wife”, write the complete address and location of the house, in case there is more than one house. This will help the executor to liquidate the assets during probate and distribute proceeds to beneficiaries.

  3. Designate beneficiaries: A person making a will i.e. donor has to decide who will be getting benefits in terms of money and assets, such a person is known as a beneficiary. In a will, there can be more than one beneficiary. The beneficiaries can include your spouse, partner, pets, children- both major and minor, charities, friends, relatives, etc.

    If a beneficiary has not been designated by you, then the court determines who receives the property. Again, make sure that while designating beneficiaries who will receive assets, their name and identity should be specific, unambiguous, and clear. For example- instead of writing “my black SUV car goes to my son”, write down his full legal name and address.
    If you want to leave assets to a non-profit, it’s profitable to include their EIN to make them easier to identify. It’s also a brilliant idea to name secondary beneficiaries for all of your property, in case you outlive your primary. Also, ensure that your beneficiary designations are in line with the beneficiaries you name on payable-on-death accounts, like your life insurance policy.
  4. Chose a guardian for your minor children: If you have a child whose age is below 18 years, you can declare a guardian to take care of them after death. A person who has been appointed as a legal guardian must be trustworthy and caring who can look after your child after a death. This can be done by using the language ‘I name Harish Prasad as guardian for the person and property of my minor child/ children’. An alternative guardian should be chosen in case your first choice is unable to take the responsibility.
  5. Chose a residuary beneficiary: The residuary beneficiary is the one who will receive the remainder of your assets or those assets which are not allotted to anyone in the will. This could be the other assets that other beneficiaries didn’t claim or assets you didn’t name a beneficiary for. The residuary beneficiary can be anyone like a forgotten relative or charity.

  6. Sign the Will: This is the most important step because your will is not valid without your signature. The will must be signed in the presence of witnesses. The number of witnesses varies with the state laws. The witness must be a person who is not interested in your will or who has not been mentioned as the beneficiary. Such a witness is known as ‘Disinterested witness’. They could be anyone from friends, neighbours, relatives, colleagues, etc. Even if you have created a will using an online service, it needs to be printed and signed by you and witnesses.
  7. Store the will in a safe place: Now when your will is written, printed, signed, and witnessed, it becomes completed and you should store it in a safe, easily accessible place. Tell your legal heirs and executors that you have created a will and its existence, so they know where to find it when the time comes. 

Click here to have a look at how your Will should look like!

Important points to keep in mind while drafting your will

  • A do-it-yourself will should be adequately drafted because a poor draft can create a mess for your legal heirs when you’re gone.
  • In case you have a complicated family dynamic, own a lot of assets, or property in multiple states, consult a lawyer or an attorney.
  • If you have a pet, then choose a pet guardian in your will to watch over them after your death. You can also reserve some money from your estate to cover the cost of caring for them.
  • There is no need to say who will receive proceeds from life insurance or retirement accounts in your will, as those require a named beneficiary within the account.
  • If you are married or have children who are alive, list the names of your spouse and children and your marriage date.
  • In case you own any debts in your lifetime, it is necessary to mention those in your will.
  • It is also advisable for the donor to revisit or review his will any time he has a major life event like birth, death, marriage, and divorce in the family.

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About Author

Shaily is a law student, pursuing B.Com LLb. (Hons) from University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University.

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