Types Of Wills In Estate Planning

By: Alexis Perkins

Wills are vital legal declarations that dictate which beneficiary should receive which asset upon the testator's death. Family feuds can arise in the absence of a will as family members fight over who gets what. Wills minimize this by settling distribution of assets by the testator.

There are different types of wills, not all recognized in all states. Testators are advised to draft wills while consulting with a lawyer so that no flaw may be found when it comes time to distribute assets. However, testators may draft wills without the help of a lawyer if they so choose.

Simple/statutory will

A simple or statutory will is ideal for testators who don't have a lot of property and assets to give away. There are simple will templates that can be used to ensure that wills are drafted in keeping with legal jargon and comprehension.

Simple wills can include which beneficiaries get what the testator owns, which person should look after minor children, who will look after property willed to minor children till they come of age and which person will be entrusted to carry out conditions of a will.

Joint will

A joint will is usually drafted by two parties on a single document. Husbands and wives are usually the parties. Though it's drafted on a single document, distribution of assets and real estate is done separately. The signatories may choose to leave properties to each other or to third parties. If a signatory dies, the surviving signatory cannot change the will. Both signatories can, however, change it during their lifetimes.

Mutual will

Mutual wills are drafted upon agreement by all parties but not on a single document. Like joint wills, the signatories may leave property to each other or to third parties. They're also irrevocable so if a signatory dies, the other party cannot change the contents of the will. Parties are advised to draft such wills on the advice of a legal professional because different states treat them differently.

Mutual wills are more common than joint wills.

Mirror will

A mirror will is one part of an identical will drafted by the second party. It mirrors everything the other contains including beneficiaries if the signatories die simultaneously. Unlike joint and mutual wills, surviving signatories can change them at any time.

Holographic will

Holographic wills are no longer used as widely as they're valid only in a few states. They're handwritten by the testator and in the absence of a witness. They were common decades back and no longer considered binding in many states.

Nuncupative will

A nuncupative will is orally dictated rather than written. The testator speaks his wishes distribution of property to a person which acts as a witness. Like holographic wills, it isn't recognized in many states. It's sometimes called a deathbed will since the declaration is usually made when a testator is on his or her deathbed and hasn't drafted a written will.

Living will

A living will is unlike the rest because it doesn't distribute assets or name an executor or guardian. Rather, it states what sort of medical treatment the testator wants administered in case he is unable to express his wish when the time comes to seek medical aid. An example is declaring whether a testator wants to be put on life support following critical illness or injury.

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Germein Reed offers advice on minimising the risk of your Will being contested by a disgruntled beneficiary as well as helps you to protect your will from spouse or family members. Please feel free to contact one of our well experienced lawyer any time.

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