Most people are familiar with the basic concept and purpose of a Last Will and Testament. After all, Wills have been used for centuries to pass down property from one generation to the next. While you undoubtedly understand what a Will is, and why it is important to execute one, did you know there are different types of Wills? Choosing the right type of Will for your needs and goals is just as important as executing the Will.
Types of Wills
Like many people, you may have been under the impression that there is only one type of Will. In reality, however, there are several different types of Wills from which you may choose, including:
- Simple Will — a Simple Will is what you likely think of when you hear the term “Last Will and Testament.” This is what most people who have relatively modest, uncomplicated assets choose to execute. A Simple Will is appropriate to distribute a modest estate that includes uncomplicated assets. A Simple Will is also used to avoid intestate administration of the estate.
- Pour-Over Will – you may decide to use a trust agreement to distribute the majority of your estate assets instead of a Last Will and Testament. If so, you will also need to execute a Pour Over Will. A Pour Over Will is used to “pour over” the estate assets into the trust at the time of your death. You will establish a testamentary trust that does not take effect until your death at which time the terms of the Pour Over Will dictate that all estate assets be poured over into the trust. The terms of the trust are then used to actually hold and/or distribute your assets. A Pour Over Will can even be used in conjunction with a living trust to catch any assets that did not make it into the trust prior to the Settlor’s (your) death.
- Holographic Will –– A holographic Will is a written document that you signed and dated in your own handwriting, but that is not witnessed. Most states no longer consider a holographic Will to be valid; however, the State of New York does recognize holographic Wills. For the Will to be accepted, however, two disinterested witnesses must testify that the handwriting is that of the Testator in order for a holographic will to be accepted.
- Oral or Nuncupative Will — A nuncupative Will is an oral, or spoken, Will that the Testator tells someone (a witness) prior to death. Most states no longer recognize nuncupative Wills. The State of New York only recognizes a Nuncupative Will if the testator was either a mariner at sea or with the armed forces during a time of war or other armed conflict. They require three witnesses who must testify before the court that they were present when the will was made.
If you have questions or concerns about the different types of Wills available, or if you wish to get started creating your Last Will and Testament, contact an experienced estate planning attorney at the Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.