Preparing Your Own Will

An attorney is the best person to help you write your Will, but if no attorney is available you can write your own Will. This Classroom goes over the basics of what a will does, how your property would be distributed if you don't have a will, describes the contents of each section in a standard will, and provides Alaska specific information that is important to consider if writing your own will. A sample will is provided at the end of the classroom that can be used as a guideline in writing a will for yourself.

Other Planning Tools: Other Estate Planning Tools


Preparing Your Will


Preparing Your Will

Other Planning Tools

Preparing a Will is just one piece of the puzzle when doing some advance life planning. While a will is important for after you die, there are other advance planning tools that may be helpful, some for while you are alive but unable to act on your own.  This section briefly describes a few of these tools.

Advanced Directives

Normally, an advance directive authorizes an agent to act on behalf of an individual. Two common advance directives in Alaska are known as a Power of Attorney and the Alaska Advance Health Care Directive. Typically, both of these advance directives are tools that allow a person to name another person (an agent) to act on their behalf in the event that it becomes necessary.

One the most important differences between a Will and an advance directive is that the terms of a Will do not become effective until after the person dies, whereas an advance directive expires upon the death of the person who signed it. Consequently, the authority of an agent holding a power of attorney expires upon the death of the principal, and he or she has no authority to act on behalf of the estate of the deceased person.

General Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which one person authorizes another person to act on his or her behalf.

The person giving the authority is called the “principal.”

The person designated to act on behalf of the principal is called the “agent.”

Advance Health Care Directive

As the name indicates, a health care directive focuses exclusively upon medical decision making. An agent is usually appointed to make medical decisions if necessary, and the form typically addresses topics found in a Living Will, such as preferences regarding end-of-life treatment, pain control, feeding and breathing tubes, and organ donation.

Separate Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive forms are available on this website, and there is a separate classroom module on both topics.

Comfort One/Do Not Resuscitate Order

Some individuals who are terminally ill do not wish to have life saving measures such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) performed when their breathing and heartbeat stop.

The Alaska “Comfort One Program” was established to help health care providers identify terminally ill persons who have expressed these wishes. In order for such wishes to be recognized, a doctor issues a Do Not Resuscitate Order. Only a doctor can issue a Do Not Resuscitate Order, after discussing the issues with the patient.

The Alaska Comfort One program/Do Not Resuscitate order is different from a “living will.” Living wills are designed to allow the patient to express his or her wishes regarding life sustaining treatments and other medical care when unable to make treatment decisions. They do not go into effect until the patient is determined to be in a terminal condition and is unable to make treatment decisions. The Alaska Comfort One program removes the uncertainty of whether the person has a terminal condition and wishes to have CPR performed or not.

Transfer On Death Deed (TODD)

This type of deed transfers the described real property when you die, subject to any liens or mortgages (or other encumbrances) on the property at the time of your death. Probate is not required. The TOD deed has no effect until you die. You can revoke it at any time. You are also free to transfer the property to someone else during your lifetime. If you do not own any interest in the property when you die, this deed will have no effect.

For more information regarding this option, check out the Alaska court system’s website at:

A sample TOD deed is available as a Related Resource below.

Disposition of Human Remains document

Many people leave funeral instructions in their Will. However, as an alternative to leaving instructions in a Will, there is a special form called a “disposition document” in which you may provide directions for the handling of your remains. You can name a person to carry out your burial instructions and/or handle any other similar decisions.

A form for this is in the Related Resources below

Last Review and Update: Mar 22, 2017
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