Curious about wills? Need a living will? Looking for an estate planning attorney? From California to Florida, this guide will help. We’ll cover various types of wills, why you might be interested in them, and then how you might be able to go about creating one – either with an estate planning attorney or will lawyer, or by doing it yourself with a free printable last will template or blank will form, available online by free download PDF.
What are 7 types of wills?
There are many varied types of last wills and testaments. Here are some of them.
A simple will generally covers the following: 1. Names the Executor who will seek appointment to administer your estate, 2. Describe how and to whom your assets will be distributed, and 3. Name guardianship of children.
A joint will is typically created by a married couple. The objective is primarily to ensure the distribution of assets is agreed upon while both people are alive, and doesn’t change after one person passes away.
Living Wills or Advanced Healthcare Directive
An advanced health directive, often referred to as a “living will” is quite different, in that it speaks only to the type of medical care you wish to receive, in the event you fall ill and are unable to make your own medical decisions.
Testamentary Wills or Testamentary Trust
A testamentary will is more complicated in that it actually creates one or more trusts that will continue to be the structure through which your estate will be administered
But wait, there’s more. Here are some variations on the will types above:
A contingent will outlines a distribution of assets to a beneficiary, ONLY if the beneficiary meets certain requirements or specific conditions are met.
A holographic will is created by a person in their own handwriting, without any witnesses, notaries, nor legal services present. Check your state law to see whether holographic wills are valid.
If a person is unable to write the will themselves, it can be dictated to somebody who creates it. Due to the heightened possibility of fraud, nuncupative wills are not valid in many states.
What is the most common type of will? A simple last will and testament.
The most common type of will is a simple last will and testament. It clearly identifies an executor, and clearly outlines the distribution of assets to specific heirs and beneficiaries.
What is recommended most? A living will/advanced healthcare directive.
The most recommended type of “will” is a living will or advanced healthcare directive. It clearly identifies your wishes in the event you become incapacitated, and identifies the agent whom you designate to make medical decisions for you.
What is the difference between a living will and a living trust?
A living will specifies your wishes and medical preferences in the event you become medically incapacitated and are unable to make your own decisions. A living trust is a structure you establish during your life that helps your familiy administer your assets after you pass without having to endure judicial probate court processes and costs.
How is my will used after I die?
When a person passes away, their will be used by the Executor of Will in their county probate court to distribute their assets to heirs and beneficiaries.
As an example, if Jill passes away, her son, John, may be in charge of locating Jill’s will and last testament. Then, John may complete a Petition for Probate, which he will file with Jill’s will and death certificate in Jill’s county probate court. Once her petition has been granted and letters testamentary issue, John is authorized to act on behalf of Jill’s estate. John will marshal Jill’s assets, determine and pay Jill’s outstanding debts, and, with court approval, distribute Jill’s assets and property to her heirs, as dictated by Jill’s will.
What happens if I die without a will?
Many people die without wills. While your assets will still be inherited by your children and family pursuant to the intestacy laws of your state. The issue of who will act as executor remains open, and that issue and who inherits will be determined by the county probate court judge after enduring the long and expensive probate process.
What are an Executor of Estate, Administrator of Will, Beneficiary, Heir, and Trustee?
These are all common terms used to identify the person(s) associated with creating a will and the probate process.
Executor of Estate, Executor of Will, Administrator of Will
These are all similar terms referring to the person(s) in charge of administering a probate estate.
Beneficiary or Heir
These are similar terms referring to the person(s) who receive gifts from an estate.
A trustee is the person in charge of administering a trust estate, outside the purview of the county probate courts.
What kinds of things should be in a will? Property, assets, funds, valuables.
There are all sorts of things you can leave in a will. A house, a car, a life insurance policy, jewelry, furniture, art, even a pet or your prized autographed baseball. The only way to begin is by making a list of all your assets, properties, bank accounts, investments, and valuable items and making sure they are going to the people you want to have them.
Property and Real Estate
Fully or partially owned real estate are typically them most valuable assets in a will.
Bank Accounts and Assets
Checking and savings accounts should be included in your will, along with other bank assets.
Investments and Funds
Stocks, bonds, and other investment accounts should be named.
Valuable personal items
Cars, boats, artwork, jewelry, businesses, and even pets should be accounted.
If you have children, their guardians should be named in the will.
Do I need a will lawyer or estate planning attorney? Or can I create a will myself?
You do not “need” a will lawyer or estate planning attorney to create your will. However, as the value of your estate increases, the protection that an attorney provides becomes just that more significant. An experienced estate planning lawyer will properly specify beneficiaries, distributions, do so in a timely manner, and, most importantly, make sure it gets done. In most cases, the cost of working with a lawyer will be recouped in saved time, taxes, costs, and fees.
Creating a will yourself can be easy to do, when the size of the estate is limited. (In fact, if an estate is valued under $150,000 probate may be avoided with a Small Estate Affidavit.) Then, as estates increase in value, creating a will on your own becomes more complicated.
Where can I find a free printable last will and testament form or blank will template?
Anyone would be advised to get a free consultation from an estate planning lawyer or will attorney prior to creating any last will and testament. A good estate planning attorney will provide the answers and information you need to determine if you’d like to work with them or create a will on your own.
If you choose to proceed on your own, here are some free printable last will and testament forms and templates:
California Will Forms
Florida Will Forms
Missouri Will Forms
Kansas Will Forms
Have questions about creating a will or trust?
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