More Than One Type Of Will

When it comes to the last will and testament, there is often no such thing as a simple will. Wills can come in several shapes and sizes, and the way the probate court treats them varies. It's a good idea to understand the various types of wills and what they mean, so read on.

A Will's Purpose

Wills, when accepted by the probate court, are legal documents that are meant to indicate what the deceased wants to be done with their assets and debts and who they want to serve as the administrator of the estate. In some cases, a last will and testament also set out provisions for minor children through guardianships, directs funeral arrangements, and makes some bequests conditional on other actions. For example, a will might state that a college education will be funded if the beneficiary attends a certain alma mater. In most cases, wills must be signed before witnesses and the creator must be of sound mind at the time of the action.

Several Ways to Write a Will

  1. Simple Will with Witnesses – This type of will is often prepared by an attorney using legal advice and the signing is witnessed by others. These wills are the easiest to probate since they are usually legal and well-thought out. All wills, however, may be contested in probate court. Simple wills usually indicate the beneficiaries by name along with any charitable disbursements.
  2. Holographic Wills – This type of will is prepared by the deceased and is often handwritten. There are often no witnesses or notarizations with a holographic will. Reasons for preparing a holographic will vary, from those who take their privacy seriously to those who just want to avoid paying an attorney to assist them. In addition, some holographic wills may be created out of necessity when an emergency arises. For instance, you might post a holographic will in an email to a loved one while traveling in a doomed airplane. Whether or not the probate court will accept a holographic will depend on the state.
  3. Pour-Over Wills – This type of will often goes hand in hand with a trust. In most cases, those who die with both a trust and will in place can expect the assets addressed in the will to revert to whatever the trust says. In other words, the trust takes precedence. A pour-over will serves the same purpose for assets that might have been accidentally left out of a trust. Trusts are alternatives to wills and are viewed by many as easier to use. For example, assets mentioned in a trust don't have to go through the probate process.
  4. Oral or Spoken Wills – Some states allow those who are unable to put in writing their wishes the opportunity to do so by speaking them out loud to witnesses. The legality of this type of will and the circumstances under which they are legal varies from state to state.

To learn more about creating your own legal last will and testament, contact a company that offers attorney services.