How to Make a Will
In the past, there has been much discussion and discrediting of "do-it-yourself" will kits, when in fact, the sections and clauses they contain, are pretty much the same templates that a lawyer uses in their office. So a straightforward will can be done by an individual, and should have no problem being acknowledged as legal, if the proper procedures are followed.
First, a person must sit down and write out a list of their real and jointly owned property. Something co-owned with a spouse automatically goes to them upon your death, however a business co-ownership usually reverts to the surviving partner.
Once you have identified all properties, such as real estate, artwork, jewelry, investments, bank accounts, etc; you can then make out a list of specific bequests. After you have accounted for mementoes and things you wish to pass to relatives and friends, you make your major bequests, to children, siblings, parents and spouses.
Most states have laws regarding how much of an estate a spouse is entitled to, usually in the one-third to one-half range. If you leave a spouse less than that, they may contest the will, to the loss of the other beneficiaries, since expenses will come out of the estate. When a person dies without a will, state laws divide the estate between the spouse and children at a set percentage. And while it is possible to disinherit a child entirely, it is a tricky business that requires legal advice. In the end, it is usually simpler to leave the child a nominal bequest to avoid litigation.
After directing individual bequests, and those to your immediate family, you should name a beneficiary for the residual of your estate, which would include all things not listed in the will for distribution, and any property or monies acquired after the will was written. The residual beneficiary is usually the main one as well, such as a spouse, parent or child.