What is a Will and Different Types of Wills

Anbarasan Appavu

 A will, which is also known as a person's last will and testament, is a declaration that is legally enforceable that details how an individual wants their property and assets to be distributed after their death. A person who has written a will can also name a guardian for their minor children and provide for any pets that may still be alive after they pass away.

What Is a Will?


Understanding a Will

The creation of a will is one of the most essential aspects of estate planning. A person's wishes can be carried out and their heirs lives can be simplified by having a will in place to guide the process. In the event that a person passes away without leaving a will, the distribution of their property is left up to the government, and it is even possible that it will become the property of the state. Wills can be written in a variety of formats, but the majority of them have a fairly standard layout.

The statement that the author is of legal age and is making the will freely and without being coerced is typically found at the beginning of the document. Additionally, it provides evidence that the writer possessed a sound mind at the time the will was drafted. This section identifies the author and provides an explicit statement that all previous documents are null and void as of the execution of this final will and testament.

The person named as the executor in the will is responsible for seeing that the assets of the deceased person are sold off and divided up in accordance with the directives outlined in the will. Additionally, any outstanding debts and taxes related to the estate must be paid for by the executor. The person who will carry out the wishes of the testator can be anyone the testator has faith will behave in a responsible manner, including a lawyer or a financial expert. There is a possibility that the executor is entitled to receive a reasonable fee for the services provided. It's possible that the state will mandate certain guidelines for fees.

Following the naming of an executor and a guardian for any children under the age of 18, the will should discuss insurance policies that already have a beneficiary designated. Wills do not take the place of agreements made regarding life insurance proceeds, retirement assets, or investment accounts with transfer-on-death provisions. This section may also include an itemization of joint bank accounts as well as property that is co-owned with other people.

The section of the will titled "bequest" identifies beneficiaries for all of the deceased person's property and assets, with the exception of joint accounts and insurance policies, which were already addressed in an earlier section. It is imperative that all beneficiaries of a family's benefactor's estate be named before either the benefactor or their spouse passes away in order to protect their loved ones' financial well-being in the event that the benefactor decides to retire. It is essential to provide instructions that are both clear and reasonable in order to eliminate the risk of potential legal challenges that could lengthen the process of probate and result in significant legal expenses.

Instructions regarding the writer's desired funeral and place of burial can also be included in a will. If the deceased person had previously purchased a burial plot or paid for funeral expenses, those details will typically be discussed in this section of the obituary.

Conditions imposed by the state on wills

The majority of states demand that the will be signed at the end of the document in the presence of two witnesses in addition to the author's signature. Wills written as holographic will on paper are legal in some states. After the individual has passed away, the will is presented to the probate court in the county or city in which they had been residing prior to their death. The duration of the probate process is highly variable and is determined by factors such as the complexity of the estate being administered and the presence or absence of any legal challenges to the will.

Types of Wills & How to Choose the Perfect One

This guide from the estate planning for Wills website explains the different types of wills and how to choose the appropriate one.

It is normal to feel overwhelmed when beginning the process of estate planning. In fact, it is not only normal but also reasonable. Estate Planning encompasses a multitude of concepts. But the easiest way to complete the process is step by step.

One of the first things you should attempt to comprehend is the various types of Wills. It is important to know which Will best suits your circumstances so that you can feel confident that you are preparing precisely what you need to safeguard your legacy and provide for your loved ones in the coming future. Continue reading to learn more about Will types.

How many different types of wills are there?

There are nine different types of Wills available. They are vastly different from one another, and none of them are truly superior or better than the others. The optimal Will is determined by a combination of your current situation and any future objectives regarding the assets you wish to leave to your Beneficiaries. Here, we will examine nine types of Wills in detail:

Types of Wills

1.     Living Will

2.    Testamentary Trust Will

3.    Pour-Over Will

4.    Simple Will

5.    Joint Will

6.    Deathbed Will

7.    Online Will

8.    Holographic Will

9.    Nuncupative Will

1. Living Will

Despite the similarity in name, a Living Will performs significantly more functions than a traditional Last Will and Testament. A Living Will, which is also known as an Advance Healthcare Directive, is  very useful for end-of-life planning as well as communicating future medical care preferences.

In the event that you become incapacitated for any reason and are unable to communicate your wishes to doctors or loved ones, a Living Will can speak for you. A Living Will always greatly reduce the burden on your loved ones when they must make difficult decisions on your behalf. Note that Living Wills will be immediately ineffective upon death.

Caution: Ensure that your Living Will is valid and state-specific, as state requirements can vary.

2. Testamentary Trust Will

Testamentary Trust Wills are known as Will Trusts and Trust Under Wills. They are built-in a Will and can be used to direct distribution of the assets after death. These type of Trust differs from others types of will in that it is not created until after your passing. Testamentary Trust Wills are a viable option for arranging long-term care for Beneficiaries.

Caution: Unlike most Trusts, Testamentary Trust Wills are mostly subject to probate, which can be a significant disadvantage.

3. Pour-Over Will

Pour-Over Wills are complementary to Revocable Living Trusts. They are intended to provide more privacy than a traditional Last Will and Testament, and they function by "pouring over" any assets that do not go directly to a Beneficiary into your Trust after your death. Pour-Over Wills are useful if not everything has been placed in a Trust.

Caution: Property must pass through probate before it can be transferred to your Trust, which can be costly and stressful for your loved ones.

4. Simple Will

Simple Wills, as their name implies, are straightforward in that they do not contain a large number of clauses. However, the fact that they are simple will does not preclude their effectiveness. It is better that you can do the majority of your estate planning in a Simple Will, including naming the guardian for minors and an Executor.

Caution: simple wills may not be the best option for estates that are extremely complex or large.

5. Joint Will

Joint Wills are the Wills for two people contained within the same single document. They can be used in situations where spouses want to initially name each other as Beneficiaries upon the death of one, and then name a child or children as the final Beneficiaries after the death of both partners.

Caution: It is important to note that Joint Wills become automatically irrevocable upon the death of the first spouse.

6. Deathbed Will

For several reasons, deathbed wills are undesirable. The greatest disadvantage is that they are less effective than other types of Wills. Made on a deathbed, and most of the time under dire circumstances, a Deathbed Will frequently raises questions about mental stability and its extent.

Caution: While any Will is preferable to none, Deathbed Wills are likely to cause problems for your loved ones after your passing.

7. Online Will

Online Wills are a relatively new concept within the realm of Estate Planning. It is true that there are numerous reliable, authoritative resources available to assist you in creating an effective and adequate Online Will. However, you must be cautious about the website you use to draft your Will or other Estate Planning documents.

Caution: Not all online will companies are identical. It is imperative that you read online reviews. And most importantly, it is to ensure that the company you choose offers the state-specific documents and forms that have been actually created, drafted, and reviewed by true attorneys and Estate Planning professionals.

8. Holographic Will

Although relatively uncommon, holographic wills still exist on occasion. Typically, these handwritten Wills are the result of extreme, unforeseen circumstances, such as war or another life-threatening situation.

Caution: Not all states recognize the validity of holographic wills.

9. Nuncupative Will

The Nuncupative Will is a verbal explanation of final wishes. As with Holographic Wills, not all the states recognizes the Nuncupative Wills. In addition, some states have stringent requirements for what constitutes a valid Nuncupative Will. For instance, a state may only recognize them if they are written down after being spoken.

Caution: Despite the fact that some of the states recognizes a Nuncupative Will as valid (under certain circumstances), they are typically not recognized when created by a civilian.

Regardless of the type of Will you choose, it is essential that you have an Estate Plan in place. It is difficult to plan for the future, especially if you will not be in it. However, it is one of the most intelligent and considerate things you can do for your loved ones. Making decisions for them now, so they don't have to navigate your loss without knowing your wishes, is a truly enduring way to leave a loving legacy.


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