Navigating the 10 Types of Wills

It is never too early to start thinking about creating a will. This activity, while often dreaded, should be a top priority for everyone, regardless of age or health. If you haven’t drafted a will yet, now is time to do so.

Navigating the 10 Types of WillsWhat is a will?

A will is a legal document that names people to manage your estate and declares who will receive your belongings after your death. Identifies who will inherit your state. Your will should reflect all important family members and personal belongings and assets.

Wills can vary in length, and what can or cannot be included in a will depends on your state and jurisdiction.

Types of Wills

  1. Attested Will: A witnessed will that must be signed by the owner and witnesses.
  2. Simple or Statutory Will: A will using a state-specific template containing standard terms to simplify the process. The owner fills in the blanks and checks off specifics. This works wells for people with small, uncomplicated estates.
  3. Conditional or Contingent Will: A will that only goes into effect if certain conditions are met. If these conditions are not met, the will is not valid.
  4. Pour-over will: This type of will can be used to name your living trust as your primary beneficiary. Assets left out of the will go through probate court before being transferred or “poured” into the trust and distributed according to its terms.
  5. Holographic will: A will handwritten, signed and dated by the owner that is unwitnessed. It is often open to challenges in probate court.
  6. Oral or Nuncupative will: A will that is spoken before witnesses and outlines your wishes after you die. This type of will is subject to restrictions and must meet certain legal requirements.
  7. Living will: A will usually executed when the owner is terminally ill or severely injured and has lost consciousness. This document does not distribute your assets after you die, but communicates your medical wishes in the case you cannot communicate them yourself.

Couple’s Wills

  1. Reciprocal or Mirror Wills: Couples make identical wills leaving their entire estate and all assets to each other, with mutually agreed upon beneficiaries, if wished
  2. Joint Will: A single will signed by each spouse or civil partner. The estate of the deceased is left to the surviving partner, who cannot change the will. The will determines who will inherit the state after the second partner has passed
  3. Mutual Will: A will that is one of two separate wills, one signed by the husband and the other signed by the wife, with identical and reciprocal provisions, similar to a mirror will. The surviving partner cannot make changes to the will, similar to the joint will.

Updating Your Will

Whenever a major event happens in your life, your will should be reassessed and updated if necessary. Major life events may include: marriage; divorce; birth; adoption; the purchase, sale or loss of a valuable item; death of an heir; or a change of heart. Amendments can be added to a will unless you choose to create an entirely new will.

How to Create a Will

Estate planning can be quite complicated and it is worth hiring a competent legal professional to help you draft a will. Creating a will saves your family from a confusing, emotionally draining and expensive process in the aftermath of your death.

To be sure your will is valid and meets the requirements dictated by your state, seek legal advice from the estate planning professionals at Woods Insurance. We can help you determine the type of will that best suits you – now and in the future – and make sure your loved ones are taken care of.