8 Different Types of Wills Explained

Family is the closest bond in the world. You want to do everything for your loved ones while you can, and it is natural to wish the very best for them even after you pass away.

Types of will

Creating a Will is one of the noblest things you can do for the peace and prosperity of your family. Besides protecting your assets, children and spouse, the last will and testament dictate precisely how you want things handled after your death.

A Will is surrounded by legal nitty gritties. You should have an understanding of a few technicalities, at least know the types of wills, before you even think of making one. Let us brief you with this bit of information.

Here are eight different types of Wills and their importance.

1. Single Will

A Single Will is the most common and straightforward way to leave your assets to someone after death. This last will and testament allows you to designate who will receive your property upon your death. It doesn’t let you specify how to distribute it or any other particulars. If you want to leave some of your assets directly to one person and other assets indirectly through a trust, you’ll have to create multiple Single Wills.

Most formats for a Single Will include beneficiary designations for assets that don’t require probate. This arrangement allows the executor of your Will to distribute your belongings to the named beneficiary without court approval. Examples include life insurance policies, IRAs, and 401(k)s. In addition, beneficiary designations can be helpful when you want to name someone other than your heir or spouse for property inheritance.

2. Testamentary Will

A Testamentary Will sets out how you want your property and wealth to be divided after passing away. When designing this Will, you must choose another person who will oversee the distribution of your wealth after death, called an executor. The document is valid only if you sign it in front of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries of the Will.

A Testamentary Will usually contains:

  • The name of the Testator (the person who is writing the Will)
  • The Testator’s place of residence
  • All real estate and personal belongings the Testator wishes to divide
  • An inventory of all assets and their values

You can change a Testamentary Will several times while you are alive and capable of making decisions. However, any changes you make must be overseen by the two witnesses present when you first signed the Will. If the witnesses are absent, it’s critical to choose two other competent people to keep the changes valid.

3. Joint Will

A Joint Will allows two people to leave their property to one another. It can also provide joint custody of children and share guardianship of pets.

It’s not a must that the creators be spouses, or even civil partners. Neither does this legal document require both parties to above 18 years of age. If one party is under 18 years, the other party should take parental responsibility for the younger one. Joint Wills are valid for use for any property owned by either party at the date of death (or later, if required). A Joint Will is not affected by any acquisitions by either party at a later date.

4. Living Will

A Living Will (or a medical directive) is a legal document stating your wishes regarding end of life medical care and treatment when you become incapacitated. For example, it explains whether you want (or don’t want) to be kept alive when you become terminally ill or severely debilitated.

Note that Living Wills are not legally binding unless signed while you’re competent enough to understand what they mean. They don’t replace your Will, which specifies what should happen to your property after your death. A Living Will only allows you to put your wishes regarding medical or health care into clear writing to family members, doctors, and other health care providers.

5. Living Trust

A Living Trust is quite similar to a Living Will, but it gives you an opportunity to deal with the distribution of assets or the appointing of a successor for your assets. This document holds your assets while you’re alive and then passes them to your beneficiaries upon your death according to the directions in the trust agreement.

A Living Trust may either be revocable or irrevocable. You can rescind a revocable Living Trust anytime during your lifetime, but not the irrevocable trust. The primary advantage of an irrevocable trust is that assets placed in it stay protected from the reach of creditors.

6. Holographic Will

A Holographic Will is a document signed in the original testator’s handwriting. It must also be dated and witnessed by at least two people during the initial signing.

Holographic Wills are valid in the UK provided they don’t fall short of the legal requirements. It should not be merely a handwritten document. It needs to be drafted with the intention to be effective. It must be clearly signed, dated and verified by two witnesses.

You can amend or revoke a Holographic Will during your lifetime. However, once the Will is made public you cannot change or cancel the Will without going through a probate court.

A Holographic Will is significant in these circumstances:

  • When the Testator is confined to home.
  • When the Testator wishes to eliminate the involvement of lawyers or legal representatives.
  • When the Testator wishes to cut costs.

7. Nuncupative Will

A Nuncupative Will is a document that declares the beneficiaries publicly, either orally or in writing.

This Will applies in several instances, including:

  • When a person cannot write due to illness or injury, you can only make your wishes known verbally.
  • When a person is traveling and has no access to legal documents or services.
  • When the person is on his deathbed and can only state his will orally
  • When the person wishes to keep the asset designation and beneficiaries a secret. In such cases a recorded audio or videotape can state your Will, which can be played by the executor after you’ve passed away.

8. Mirror Will

Mirror Wills are drafted usually by couples who have similar wishes for distribution of their properties and have chosen exactly the same beneficiaries. Although each person states his or her own Will, the terms are mirrored. The partner who survives can change the terms of the Will after the other partner dies. Mirror Wills are ideally made to deal with personal belongings like memorabilia, collectibles, jewelry etc.

It’s Never too Late to Write Your Last Will and Testament

Each type of will has its own purpose and complexity. If you’re stuck on choosing the best way of leaving your last will and testament, talk to a solicitor to help you. A solicitor can also help you brainstorm the list of witnesses and executors at your disposal and ensure the legality of your statement.


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