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Drafting a Will: A Beginner’s Guide

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This post is coauthored by Barbara Bavis, instructional librarian, and Robert Brammer, senior legal reference specialist

Contemplating end-of-life issues is not anyone’s favorite topic, but it is important to do so in order to ensure your final wishes are carried out. As such, it is not surprising that our patrons show an interest in these matters, which led to our previous post on health care advance directives.  In this post, we will focus instead on issues surrounding the disposal of assets rather than healthcare considerations, and explore different resources that can assist you if you are contemplating drafting a will.

Drafting Resources

Country clients. Painted by W. Dendy Sadler ; etched by James Dobie. (Published March 1905). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Country clients. Painted by W. Dendy Sadler ; etched by James Dobie. (Published March 1905). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Please keep in mind that these resources are not a substitute for contacting a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction, because not only is the law surrounding wills driven primarily by state law, but also the methods by which you create an estate plan can have significant tax consequences.

For True Beginners

Drafting Guides (with forms)

State-Specific Resources

To locate additional resources that are specific to your state, please use our catalog and browse subject headings. Click “search options,” “browse,” and use the drop-down to select “SUBJECTS beginning with” or “SUBJECTS containing,” and then input a subject heading using one of the examples shown below. Finally, click on a result and you can browse the materials classified under that subject heading.

Some of the subject headings that may be of interest include:

  • Estate Planning–[State Name]
  • Estate Planning–United States
  • Wills–[State Name]
  • Wills–[State Name]–Forms

Locate Resources in a Library

To locate these resources in a library near you, visit Worldcat, type the title in the search box, and from the results page, select a result.  Finally, on the catalog entry page, scroll down to the “Find a copy in the library” section, enter your zip code (or city and country, if outside of the United States), and click the “Find libraries” button to find libraries in your area that have the resource.

We hope this post was useful to you. If you have any questions, please use our Ask A Librarian Service.

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