A Legal Guide on the Common Types of Wills

28th Oct 2022

A Legal Guide on the Common Types of Wills

What if you were leaving your family in a terrible position and didn't even know it?

A recent poll revealed that only 46% of Americans have a will that specifies what should happen with their estate and wealth after they die. This means that less than half of the country has a plan in place for when they pass away.

One of the reasons so many people don't have a will is that they don't understand what kind they need. With so many types of wills to choose from, it can be difficult to figure out which one you really need.

Ready to learn the different will options available to you? Keep reading to find out!

Living Will

A living will is very simple. The primary purpose of this will is to explain what you want in terms of end-of-life medical care. Such a will may be necessary because when the time comes, you may not be able to speak for yourself.

Most of the time, those writing a living will give medical power of attorney to a family member or close friend. This person will ultimately decide what to do in terms of treatment or if you are beyond treatment.

Why is this a good idea? Basically, medical technology and treatments may have advanced since you first wrote a living will. Someone with medical power of attorney can explore all of the different options for saving or preserving your life when the time comes.

Simple Will

Some wills have very complex names and functions. But a simple will is just that: simple to understand and simple to write.

In this will, you specify who is going to receive which assets. And if you have any underage children, a simple will allows you to specify who will serve as their guardian if you should unexpectedly pass away.

Despite this being one of the simpler will options, it may also be suitable for most people. And such a will may be especially preferable if you don't have many complicated assets or much wealth to divide among different people.

Mirror Will

Mirror wills are very simple and used only by married couples. With a mirror will, you can stipulate that the entirety of your wealth and other assets goes to your spouse once you die.

In many cases, a mirror will may not be necessary. But if you think there is any danger that someone would legally contest what you wish to leave your spouse, you should go ahead and create such a will.

Joint Will

A joint will has some similarities to a mirror will. This is another type of will that is used only by couples. However, this will has some stipulations that may cause you to use a mirror will instead.

What kind of stipulations? Well, a joint will outlines who you wish to leave things to in the event of your death. You may wish to name your partner, but once you create a joint will, you cannot change it.

This can be bad in certain scenarios. For example, if your spouse passes away before you do and you end up remarrying, you won't be able to leave anything to your new spouse or children. Instead, you are bound by the original joint will.

By contrast, mirror wills give you more flexibility to spell out what happens when either or both of you die. This allows you to specify that some of your assets may go to someone other than the surviving spouse when you die.

Testamentary Trust Will

To understand a testamentary trust will, you must first understand the distinction between will vs trust. Whereas a will only specifies who gets what after you die, a trust allows you to choose who manages your trust and set conditions under which certain people may receive their inheritance.

A testamentary trust will, then, combines both a trust and a will. It is a popular option if you have minor children and a considerable amount of wealth.

With such a trust will, you can specify that a child won't receive their inheritance until they are a certain age. This helps them learn more about money and money management and reduces the chances of them squandering their inheritance.

Nuncupative Wills

"Nuncupative" is quite the mouthful. However, you may know this will by a more common name: the last will and testament.

Such a will is verbal only and is useful if someone is about to pass away without having drafted a will. In fact, some states will only accept nuncupative wills if someone is on their deathbed. And certain states may require a minimum number of witnesses (say, three witnesses) to verify the accuracy of the last will and testament if they even accept the validity at all.

Holographic Will

Thanks to modern technology, holographic wills have become very rare. These are the kinds of wills that are handwritten and signed rather than being typed up and signed.

Sometimes, people still write these kinds of wills if they worry about dying in the very near future. Time permitting, though, we always recommend you type out a will and grab the right will supplies to print it out. Especially because holographic wills are not accepted as valid in certain states.

Deathbed Will

A deathbed will is similar in most respects to a holographic will. The only real distinction is that deathbed wills can be handwritten or typed.

We recommend creating a deathbed will only as a last resort. Because these will are written fast, it is easy to make mistakes by accident. And it may be that much harder to prove such a will is valid in a court of law if it comes to that.

Types of Wills: Get Ready Today!

Now you know the different types of wills and can choose which one you need. But once you're ready, do you know who can help you create a will?

We specialize in providing the will supplies you need to bring your will to life. To discover how we can help you create a more accurate will that will stand up in court, contact us today!