The Different Types of Wills
Here’s a look at some of the common forms of wills.
A self-proving will is the most commonly used form of a will. This document details what should be with a person’s belongings and assets following their passing. In most states, all that’s required is for this document to be prepared, signed, and witnessed. Some states require this document to be notarized. Additionally, it’s always helpful to seek legal advice when preparing these documents to ensure the validity and comprehensive nature of your will.
Designed for two people, a joint will is a great solution for spouses. This type of will, drafted with two parties in mind, ensures that should one pass, everything will be left to the other. It also denotes who will inherit their assets once the second person passes away. Depending on your preference, this document can be designed so that the surviving partner may or may not make changes in the wake of the first party’s death.
Commonly referred to as an advanced directive, a living will is a written document that notes one’s wishes for continued healthcare in the event that they become incapacitated, terminally ill, or otherwise unable to properly communicate their preferences.
It’s important to note, however, that this type of will does not address the issue of allocating assets after death. A living will is designed exclusively for medical directives during your lifetime.
A holographic will is similar to a self-proving will in that it delineates the distribution of assets in the wake of a death. The main difference, however, is that a holographic will is written and signed by the individual absent of witnesses. Many states don’t recognize holographic wills as legally binding, so be sure to check your local laws before relying on this type of document.
As the morbid name implies, a deathbed will is one made (often hastily) when a person realizes they are close to death. While these can sometimes work as a last-ditch resort, I’d advise against this type of will and to choose one of the previous documents. Since these wills are made when a person is under great stress and/or pain, it’s easy for their mental acuity to be questioned in court.