Different Types of Last Wills and Testaments
When taking the steps to create an estate plan having a basic understanding of the jargon used in the industry to describe different types of Last Wills and Testaments will aid anyone to make the right estate planning choices. Here is a brief explanation of different types of wills.
- Oral Will – is a will that has been delivered orally to witnesses, as opposed to the usual form of written wills. Oral wills are only recognized in a few states. Generally, oral wills require a presence of fear of death. Oral wills only apply to personal property.
- Holographic Will – is a will and testament that has been entirely handwritten and signed by the testator. It does not meet the normal validation requirements of a will that must be signed by witnesses attesting to the validity of the testator’s signature and intent. Many states recognize the use of holographic wills but only under certain conditions.
- Joint Will – is a single document executed by more than one person, usually husband and wife, to pass their estates using identical provisions for each spouse. In most joint wills, a couple bequeaths all their property to each other. Upon the death of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse’s property passes according to provisions that were agreed upon by both spouses and contained in the joint. A joint will is in effect unless the surviving spouse revokes the will. A revocation of a joint will might be considered a breach of contract by the spouse.
- Mirror/Reciprocal Will – sometimes also referred to as a “sweetheart” wills are two individual wills that are prepared when a couple wants to make almost identical wills leaving, for example, everything to each other respectively and thereafter to the children, or where there are no children, to a named beneficiary.
- Conditional/Contingent Will – Conditional wills only go into effect when a certain act or condition happens. For example, Brewster’s Million when Monty Brewster needed to spend $30 million to inherit $300 million would be an example of a conditional will.
- Statutory Will – is a “fill-in-the-blank” and “check the boxes” will form that is easy to fill out, inexpensive to prepare, but very limited in use. Only a few states recognize Statutory wills.
- Self-Proving Will – is not a will but a self-proving affidavit attached to a Will that certifies the witnesses and testator properly signed the will. A self-proving will makes it easy for the court to accept the document as the true, original document, avoiding the delay and cost of locating witnesses at the time of probate.
- Revocable Living Trust – or also called an “inter vivos” trust, “revocable” trust, “living” trust or “family” trust is an agreement that determines how a person’s property is to be managed and distributed during his or her lifetime and beyond. A revocable living trust separates out the equity title and beneficial title of property to limit the impact of probate.
- Pour-Over Will – is a particular type of will used in conjunction with a revocable living trust. This kind of will “pours” any property the deceased still owned at the time of death into the trust that the person set up during his or her life.
- Testamentary Trust – or testamentary will is a trust which is created through the probating of the will and is distinguishable from an inter vivos trust, which is created during the settlor’s lifetime. Testamentary trust literally means a trust in a will. A will may contain more than one testamentary trust, and may address all or any portion of the estate.
- Codicil – a codicil is an addition to a will. It’s usually another document and used if you don’t want to write a completely new will but want to make minor changes to the will that is attached to the will. A codicil must go through the same process of a will to be considered valid.