A Last Will and Testament is important to have, period. Deciding which type of testament to create can be daunting, but knowing which type to create will help you be best prepared for when the inevitable happens.
Creating Your Last Will and Testament
Creating a Last Will and Testament is an essential part of estate planning. When it is created properly, a Last Will and Testament can ensure that you know that your property will be distributed how and where you want it. You should create a testament if you want a plan for the future, if you wish to appoint someone to be guardian of your children in the event of your death, or if you do not wish for your estate to be transferred or handled by your state after your death.
Understanding The Different Types of Testaments
A testament will typically list what property you would like transferred. Your estate will usually comprise of real and personal property, such as houses, cars, and money. Those who accept your estate are called beneficiaries. In general, these individuals or entities are family members or charities.
There are different types of testaments that suit an array of circumstances. Some of the main types are simple, testamentary trust, joint, and living. There are also holographic wills, which are handwritten, and oral or nuncupative wills. The laws that apply to each type of testament vary across state lines.
Despite serving various purposes and meeting different requirements, most types of testaments share basic requisites. In general, a testament must be executed by an individual who is over the age of 18 and of sound mind. This individual is called the “testator.” The testator must sign and date the testament, and there must be enough witnesses who are present to observe the testator sign the document. Additionally, the testator will choose an executor who will oversee that the testator’s property is distributed as the testator wishes.
Because there are various types of testaments that suit different circumstances, the testament you need depends on your unique situation. Thus, it is useful to review each type of testament to help you decide what is best as you build your estate plan.
Testament: Simple Will
This type of testament is straightforward. It is what most people think of when they hear the word “will.” A simple will establishes who will get your assets, and it can also name a guardian for your minor children. There are many forms available online that can provide a framework for writing this type of will. However, it is also important to seek legal advice to make certain that your will is valid. A will that may be valid in one state may not be valid in another state.
Testamentary Trust Will
This type of testament allows for your assets to be placed into a trust for the benefit of your named beneficiaries. A trust is useful when there are beneficiaries who are minors, or beneficiaries that cannot inherit your assets on their own. Through this type of testament, one can assign a trustee to manage the trust and set conditions on its inheritance. These requirements are spelled out in the will and can be gradual based on age or other factors. The trust will remain in effect until the conditions are met, and then the beneficiary will receive control of the trust.
Testament: Joint Will
This type of testament is useful for spouses who wish for the surviving spouse to receive their entire inheritance. Both spouses are separate testators who agree upon a single document. While beneficial in this respect, a joint will can become complicated if the surviving spouse’s wishes change. A joint will is irrevocable after death. This means it cannot be changed unless it is altered or revoked during both testators’ lifetimes. Thus, it is useful to consult an attorney to think about whether this type of inflexibility could raise issues for you in the future.
Testament: Living Will
Unlike other types of testaments, a living will does not concern where your property goes after your death. Instead, a living will is useful in the event that you become unable to convey your wishes in the event of bad health. You should consider a living will if you want to decide what medical care you would accept in the event you cannot communicate your wishes. You should also consider a living will if you would like to designate an individual to make medical choices on your behalf. Note that some states use an advance healthcare directive, which combines a living will with a healthcare power of attorney or proxy.
Testament: Holographic Will
This type of testament is an unwitnessed document that is handwritten, signed, and dated by the testator. Because the document is unwitnessed, it usually creates issues as to whether the document is valid. Thus, the majority of states do not recognize holographic wills, and they are often difficult to challenge in probate courts.
The best time to prepare for the future is now. Having a Last Will and Testament in place can provide you security during your lifetime. While the decision-making process may seem complicated, the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney can be instrumental in helping you reach the best outcome. For example, the right type of testament for you will depend upon many factors. An attorney can help you navigate these and navigate your state’s laws. With the help of an attorney, the time you take to ensure everything is proper will not only give you peace of mind, but ensure that the future of your loved ones will be secure too.