Can I just type one out on my computer and print it and sign and it will stand up in court?
There are lots of ways to save money and time on a will, but doing it on your own is risky for lots of reasons. First, you have to make sure that you can follow whatever the requirements are in your state for the formalities of signing a will. This can include the required number of witnesses, notary, etc. Even if you do that, it doesn't mean that you're accomplishing your goals. Many if not most of the individual prepared, or Internet site prepared, wills are dangerously flawed. There are a myriad of complexities a do-it-yourself will can miss. A common problem is that many people have few assets governed by their will. If you have your house owned jointly, POD (pay on death) and joint bank accounts, a beneficiary for your IRA and insurance, your will may be almost irrelevant (perhaps except for the few assets missed and naming a guardian for minor children).
There is also another concept which many state laws recognize called a "holographic" will. This is a handwritten will which might stand up. Again the rules differ considerably by state. A will you prepare on computer might not qualify as a holographic will in your state and might be invalid whereas a handwritten will might be valid. Again, there are lots of twists.
If you still want to brave it on your own (not the wise choice) at least buy a decent book or software package on the topic. Nolo press (I get no commission) is probably the best at this. But again, doing it yourself can miss tremendous issues. Try reviewing some of the probate and estate will questions on this web site to see how folks get themselves into trouble doing it themselves. My advice, get a lawyer. If you want to keep the cost down and get the most benefit, get a lawyer in your state that does a lot of probate and estate work and be upfront that you need to keep costs to a minimum. Good luck.
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