Understanding the Different Types of Wills

In the basic sense of the term, a will is a document that is made up by a person, or several people, to spell out how final affairs should be taken care once they have passed away. Each will must meet a set standard that is determined by the state in which a person lives. And if poorly crafted, the will may not be useful in a court of law, especially if contended. 

To draft a great will, there is a lot of information that is collected up front.  Figuring out testators, beneficiaries, assets, debts, and so many more things are essential to transferring the details of your estate when the time comes. The will drafting process is thorough enough to cover most situations in life, but everyone has different circumstances.  Your needs, the nature of your estate, and even the way you interact with potential heirs all affect how your will should be drafted in life, and your assets distributed or protected after your passing.

For you to determine the best type of will for your needs, we put together the following quick guide.

The Simple Will

This type of will dictates how property from a person’s (testator’s) estate is to be distributed. This will is usually created by a person that has a straightforward financial makeup. It is simple enough that the testator can make it out themselves with the occasional guidance of a lawyer to avoid mistakes. It includes the testator’s name, address, if they were married or not, and a list of instructions spelling out how all assets are to be distributed. It is also be typed and not handwritten to avoid the issue of forgery. The will names a person responsible for executing the will, the executer. Moreover, it also has a section that determines where minor children are to be placed. The testator will need to date and sign the will in front of witnesses for it to become binding and legal.

The Testamentary Trust in Your Will

The testamentary trust is a structure you can set up that will smooth the task of responsibly administering all funds and property that are named in a trust identified within the will. For instance, a person might set up a “spendthrift trust” for a someone that is not financially responsible enough to manage their assets due to age or financial immaturity. The solution in your will is to name someone responsible as the administrator of the trust that you had previously setup with the help of an estate planning attorney.  Once the trust recipient (beneficiary) has met certain conditions, usually they reach a certain age, the contents of the trust are distributed to them..

The Joint Will

This type of will is created by two testators that have decided to leave their property one to another. The way that this kind of will works is that the person who dies last is the one that gets everything. Beyond that, a joint-will also spells out what happens to the estate once the second person passes away. The will becomes permanent once one of the testators dies. Which makes sense, since the trigger of the will, a death of one of the testators, has occurred. If both testators are living, then the will can be dissolved or recreated. However, it can only be changed at the consent of both testators.

The Living Will

This kind of will does not deal with monetary or property issues. In fact, it’s not a Will as you would understand it; instead, it is a valuable tool for your family or trusted friends to utilize while you’re still alive. A living will provides healthcare professionals and trusted friends and family the instructions a person needs when they are unconscious or unable to speak or coherently make decisions.

A living will is beneficial for when a person is near death or unable to make decisions for their self-care. For example, if a person were hooked up to a breathing machine and the family was conflicted on whether to keep the person on life support, they could (or would) seek guidance from the wishes of the person on life support – via their living will.

Getting Professional Guidance on Wills

If you are looking to establish a will, then all of us at Yana Feldman & Associates, PLLC can help you. We specialize in estate planning and elder law. We desire to help families like yours to take care of the things that matter.

Call us today or contact us here for more information.