Wills are a commonly used tool in the world of estate planning, allowing testators to list their final wishes, layout their preferred division of assets, and provide for their heirs after their passing. There are many types of Wills, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Read on to learn more.
Also known as a statutory Will, a simple Will is often suitable for those with straightforward small estates. These Wills tend to be formulaic, so they’re relatively easy to put together in a short period of time. However, not all states recognize simple Wills and it’s difficult to express all of your last wishes with this type of estate plan.
If you have a living trust, you may choose a pour-over Will. A pour-over Will is designed to award assets to the testator’s living trust. A living trust may include a substantial amount of the decedent’s property at the time of their death. The pour-over Will grants any property still in the testator’s possession at the time of death to the living trust, where it can then be distributed to beneficiaries.
A holographic Will is one that is not witnessed by any other party. A limited number of states recognize holographic Wills as valid, so this is often not a valid or recommended option. A holographic Will is written completely in the decedent’s handwriting, dated, and signed by the testator. There are numerous issues with this type of Will. It’s easy for beneficiaries to contest it and argue that it is falsified. Typically, three witnesses have to agree that the Will matches the testator’s handwriting and one person must have found the Will among the decedent’s paperwork or belongings after their passing.
Oral Wills are often known as “deathbed” wills since they’re typically spoken by the decedent shortly prior to passing away. A testator may dictate this type of Will in front of multiple witnesses to ensure that it is respected. However, some states do not recognize deathbed or oral Wills. They are often contested and can lead to a drawn-out court battle.
Couples may choose to write reciprocal, joint, or mutual Wills. A reciprocal Will grants the entire estate to the surviving spouse. A joint Will is a single document that outlines each person’s wishes. Mutual Wills are identical but separate documents that name the surviving spouse as the beneficiary. These documents also list mutually agreed upon beneficiaries for when both spouses die.
There are many estate planning options available to you. This is perhaps one of the most important legal documents you’ll draw up in your lifetime. Get the personalized assistance you need by contacting The Matus Law Group at (732) 281-0060.