What should I do with my last will after I sign it?
After you sign your last will, you should keep it in a safe, easily accessible place. Be sure that the person whom you have appointed as your executor knows exactly where you stored your last will. You do not have to file it with the court or place it in the public record. However, some courts may permit you to deposit your last will with them, depending on how busy or crowded they are.
What happens to my debts after I die?
The general rule is that all debts must be paid before any assets are distributed. Your outstanding credit card balances, for instance, are generally paid before any money or gifts are distributed to your heirs.

An exception to this general rule is for "secured debts," that is, debts that allow the lender to take possession of a specific piece of property if the debt is not repaid. Examples of such secured debts are mortgages or auto loans. If a piece of property is collateral for a secured debt, that property can be distributed, but the debt will generally go with it. For instance, say you have a car worth $10,000 and a loan on the car of $5,000. You can leave the car to someone in your will, but it will be that person's obligation to pay off the loan.

What happens if you owe more than you own? In general, people cannot inherit another person's debts. If there is not enough cash in the estate to pay debts, all property of the estate will be sold to pay the debts and no one will inherit anything. For example, if someone dies owing $12,000 in credit card debt, but has cash and property worth only $10,000, the property will be sold and the $10,000 will be paid to the credit card issuer.
Can I change or revoke my will after I make it?
You can revoke a last will any time before death by making a new last will that states that all prior last wills are no longer valid. To revoke a last will without making a new one, all you have to do is intentionally tear it up, deface it, burn it, or destroy it. If this is done accidentally, the last will is not revoked.

What happens if you make a new last will (which revokes all prior last wills) and then decide that you like your old last will better? You need to make an entirely new last will that replaces the new one and mimics the old one. The old last will is invalid and cannot be revived after it has been revoked.

One way to make changes to a last will, without revoking it entirely, is to make a codicil, which is an amendment to a last will. However, a codicil must be signed and witnessed just like a last will, so it may be easier to make an entirely new last will.

Be sure not to make changes to your last will after it has been witnessed and signed. If you cross out a person's name or add clauses to a last will that has already been signed, you risk making the whole last will invalid.
Can I disinherit someone?
You can leave anyone out of your last will, subject to certain limitations. Many laws have been enacted to protect spouses and minor children. Be sure to read the section "Marriage, Divorce, and Children" in the "Wills Law Library" for more information.

If you wish to disinherit one of your children or to give one child less than another, you should clearly state that intention in your last will.
Can I make a handwritten last will?
A handwritten last will is called a "holographic last will." It is valid in about 25 states if all of its material provisions and clauses are handwritten. However, because most handwritten last wills are not as in-depth as the LegalZoom Last Will and Testament and because they are often not properly written, they are not generally recommended. Courts can be unusually strict in determining whether a holographic last will is authentic. More importantly, it is not recommended that people revise their last wills by hand.
Where can I find a notary?
You can usually find a notary at the UPS Store, Inc. and similar stores. Financial institutions such as banks also offer notary services. The Yellow Pages has lists of traveling notaries.

Please be advised that the notary will only be signing the "Self-Proving Affidavit" and the "Statement of Interment." These documents should not be stapled to your last will; they are separate documents. The last will does not itself have to be notarized.
Is my out-of-state last will valid if I move?
If a last will was validly made while you were living in another state, it is probably valid in your new state. However, if your last will was not "self-proved," it may not be accepted by certain courts until a witness signs an oath swearing that he or she saw you sign your last will. Because of the expense involved in finding your witnesses, it is probably best to rewrite your last will after moving to another state.

Most states allow a last will to be self-proved. The LegalZoom Last Will and Testament includes a self-proving affidavit in states where that is permitted. This means that if you move to another state, it would be unnecessary to locate witnesses before beginning the probate process.
What is a last will?
A last will is arguably the most important legal document that the average person will ever sign. It is an instrument that, on your death, controls who gets your property, who will be the guardian of your children, and who will manage your estate.
Do I have to file my last will with a court or in public records?

You do not have to file your last will with a court or other governmental authority after you sign it. After your death, however, your last will must be filed with the court. It will then become public.

What happens if I die without a last will?

If you do not make a last will, state law will determine who gets your property. This process is called "intestate succession." In most states, your property would first be divided between your spouse and your children. If you are not married and have no children, your property would be distributed to your closest living relatives. If the administrator of your estate cannot find a living relative entitled to your property under the law, the property would go to the state.

What makes a last will legal?

The court will not enforce your last will unless the following criteria are met:

  • Soundness of Mind: You must be of sound mind.

  • Free Will: You must be acting of your own free will without undue influence or duress from others.

  • Witnesses: At least two people must watch you sign the last will. They cannot be related to you and cannot be entitled to receive anything under the last will.

In addition to these provisions, the law also requires that a last will's appearance be uniform: all important sections should be entirely typewritten or computer-generated. Although some states allow last wills that are entirely handwritten, this option is not recommended (See section immediately below.). Typically, you do not have to get your last will notarized. However LegalZoom allows you to "self-prove" your last will (when allowed by state law). For self-proving last wills, you must have a separate affidavit notarized. The advantage of self proving last wills is that witnesses do not have to be located after your death.