This page is part of our instructions for drafting your own simple will under the laws of Washington State. We wrote these instructions for a very specific audience, and they may be completely wrong as applied to you.

To find out if these instructions are appropriate for you, visit our Get Started page and choose a legal document you would like to draft.

If you wish to continue reading these instructions without finding out if they are appropriate for you, then you acknowledge that you do so at your own risk and that you have read and agree to our terms of use and privacy policy.

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Using These Instructions

These instructions explain how to edit and add to existing language we have already drafted and placed in a template for you. Our templates are available in .docx format (for Microsoft Word) and .odt format (for Open Office and other compatible open format word processing software.) You will need word processing software capable of editing at least one of these file types.

When drafting any will there are many complex decisions that need to be made. As you follow these instructions you will discover that we have already made many of these decisions for you. For example, we have decided that gifts you give to people under age 18 will be held in custodianships, and we have decided to limit the restrictions you can put on gifts. We made these decisions to make it easier for you to write your own will, to make it possible to draft instructions that are reasonably comprehensive, and to keep your costs low. In our experience, we have found that our clients who qualify to have simple wills have almost always made these decisions the same way for themselves, often because the cost (in money and time) of the alternatives is usually much higher than using a simple will.

Model Language and Examples

Throughout these instructions we will provide samples of model language, with examples, that you can review and incorporate into your draft of your simple will when appropriate. Our model language, and examples of how to use it, appears in boxes, like this one:

Model Language

 This is an example of model language.

Note that because this website can be accessed on a variety of devices with many different browsers and screen sizes, the model language in these instructions may sometimes look a bit different than it appears in the simple will template we provide.

Legal language can be very wordy. We want to show you only the relevant text in our model language boxes, so we sometimes need to hide portions of text from you. When we do so, the hidden text is replaced by three dots inside of square brackets. When you see the placeholder […] it means we have omitted some text to help you stay focused on the text that really matters.

Using […] to Hide Irrelevant Text

 In this example, some text after this sentence is hidden from view. […]

Some of our model language boxes will include some extra text just to help you understand the context of the language being discussed. We use highlighting to help you see the language we want you to focus on.

Highlighted Text

 In this example, we are drawing your attention to some important language. The surrounding text is only here to provide context, so you can get a sense of where the important language is located within the document.

We have done our best to pre-draft most of the language of your simple will. Nevertheless, throughout the drafting process, there will be many times when you will need to fill in details about yourself and your choices — “filling in the blanks,” so to speak. The only problem with actual blanks is that they give you no clue about what you should fill them with. So instead of using blanks, we tell you what to write and surround it with square brackets, [like this]. Whenever you see text inside square brackets in the model language boxes, we are showing you a “blank” that you will need to erase and replace with some text of your own. (Yes — to be clear, you should erase the brackets themselves after you have filled in the “blank.”)

[Bracketed Text]

 For example, if we wanted to indicate a blank space at the end of this sentence that should be filled with your name, we would indicate it like this: [Your Name].

Key Drafting Information

Occasionally we will want to draw your attention to some important detail about the process of drafting your simple will. Of course, everything we write in these instructions is important, and you should read all of it. Nevertheless, pay attention when you see this icon. We promise to use it sparingly.

Keep an eye out for this icon.

Read Carefully

As you move through these instructions, read everything carefully. When the instructions contain links to further information, follow the links and read that information too. The decisions you make for your simple will can have enormous financial, legal, and emotional impact on you and the ones you love, so it is important that you clearly understand all of the information we provide. Pace yourself. Take your time. Re-read anything you did not understand the first time through. If our instructions are unclear and you do not understand something, contact us to ask for clarification.

Law Jargon and the Glossary

We try to write instructions without using too many obscure legal terms that you don’t usually hear in casual conversation. Try as we might, we can’t get around using legal terms that you probably have not heard before. Because of that, we maintain a glossary filled with definitions of legal terms in plain English. Throughout these instructions, we will frequently include links to the glossary when explaining a legal concept. If you come across a legal term that is not defined in the glossary, let us know about it.

Build Your Understanding of the Law as You Draft

Throughout these instructions, you will be faced with many decisions about what you want your simple will to do. Many of these decisions are nuanced and require disclaimers and clarifying statements to help you understand your choices. We ask and encourage you to delve as deeply into the glossary and other linked materials as necessary to fully understand the decisions that you need to make. We hope that you will come away from this experience with a greater understanding of the law and your rights.