A valid last will and testament lets you do the following:
- Leave assets to people that would be excluded by the laws controlling property distribution after you die;
- Change how your assets would be distributed to family members;
- Establish caretakers for your children; and
- Create requirements for inheriting.
Forbes’ recent article entitled, “Last Will And Testament: Everything You Need To Know,” explains that a will is a legal document created in anticipation of your death. The best known function of a last will is to determine who gets property. However, a last will can also control other things about your property and responsibilities. It’s an important tool in estate planning and one that almost everyone should create.
There are different kinds of last wills that you can create to take control of your legacy. Let’s look at some of the most common types.
With this last will, assets are left directly to beneficiaries. Simple wills are easy to write in most cases, and you can amend them as needed over time. They are a sound choice for those who don’t have children from a prior marriage, who do not have a lot of assets and who do not have concerns about anyone challenging their last will and testament.
This will is used if you have more specialized needs, such as creating a testamentary trust, which is created within your last will. You create the testamentary trust to transfer ownership of assets into a trust instead of directly to beneficiaries. A complex last will can also be used to create a special needs trust (to leave assets to a person with disabilities who relies on means-tested government benefits) or to create a protective trust for your child.
A holographic will is handwritten by the creator of the last will (known as the testator). This type of last will isn’t recognized in all states. A holographic last will must also often meet specific requirements, such as the last will being signed by witnesses present when the testator signed the document.
This is much different from the other kinds of wills. A living will does not specify who inherits assets, but rather is aimed at making advanced decisions about medical care. When you create a living will, you specify what kinds of medical care you do and do not want if decisions must be made while incapacitated.
Reference: Forbes (May 18, 2023) “Last Will And Testament: Everything You Need To Know”