When you create an estate plan, your will or trust is the document that sets forth how you want your estate distributed to your family, friends and other loved ones. A will or trust can be very specific and detail itemized assets that should pass to specific beneficiaries, or you can even exclude a certain relative from inheriting anything from you. Your will can also appoint a guardian for your minor children if you should become incapacitated or die.
There are several different kinds of wills, including:
- Joint wills. When two people, usually a married couple, make a will together it is called a “joint will.” In a joint will, when one person passes away, the estate passes on to the other person. The surviving party is not allowed to alter the terms of a joint will once the first individual has died. It is rare that we recommend use of a joint will.
- Mutual wills. A mutual will is one that has identical and reciprocal provisions as another separate will, but neither party is bound by the terms of a mutual will unless there is an agreement to do so.
- Holographic wills. A handwritten will is referred to as a “holographic will.” Typically, this type of will is not witnessed and it must comply with certain statutory requirements before it can be deemed valid. For example, a holographic will must be in the testator’s own handwriting, and must be signed and dated at the end of the document.
- Pour-over wills. When you create a trust, a pour-over will is used to transfer any omitted assets into the trust upon your death. This is typically an effective way to either avoid the need for a probate or to limit the scope of any probate.
- Living wills. A living will is not a Will to dispose of property. It is also called an “advance directive.” This document allows you to state your wishes regarding the medical care you want or do not want in the event you are faced with a serious accident or illness (in other words your end of life care). Having a living will allows you to provide physicians and other healthcare providers with instructions regarding your treatment if you are in a coma, have an illness that will cause death, or you are otherwise unable to express your wishes.
If you are interested in drafting a will or other estate planning documents, contact us for the advice and guidance you need. The Astill Law Office has provided high quality legal services for over 30 years. We specialize in wills, trusts, estate planning, and asset protection. If you have any questions about creating a Trust, Will, or estate planning in general, contact The Astill Law Office at 801-438-8698.