There are numerous different legal devices that can be used when you are planning your estate. Many people are surprised to hear that there are actually multiple different types of wills. In this post, we will share some information about these documents.
A simple last will is the most commonly utilized estate planning tool. If you have a limited amount of property to pass along, and you don’t mind giving lump sum inheritances, this can be a suitable choice. In this type of will, you can include your choice of a guardian if you have dependent children.
Aside from the simple will, the other type of will that most people have heard of is the living will. This is an advance directive for health care, and it is used to state your life-support preferences. You can itemize each different type of life-support, and you can also record organ and tissue donation choices.
The revocable living trust is a very commonly used estate planning tool that provides many benefits, and one of them is the avoidance of probate. A simple last will would be admitted to probate, and this is a time-consuming and potentially expensive process.
Another nice thing about a living trust is the ability to include spendthrift protections if you have someone on your inheritance list that is not a good money manager. It also streamlines the estate administration process, because the assets are easily identifiable.
Even if you have a living trust, you may pass away while you are still in direct personal possession of some resources. To account for this, you can include a pour-over will in your estate plan. This would allow the trust to assume ownership of these assets after your passing.
A holographic will is a simple will that the testator writes by hand. In California where we practice, a holographic will can be accepted as valid. Technically, no witnesses are necessary.
However, because of the fact that there are no witnesses, the validity of a holographic will can be questioned. If the terms of the will do not sit well with any interested parties, a legal battle could ensue. There is really no reason to use a holographic will unless the circumstances are dire.
Reciprocal and Joint Wills
Some people that are married or in long time committed partnerships will execute reciprocal wills. They would essentially be identical with each person inheriting the other partner’s property. To account for the possibility of both people dying at the same time, a beneficiary would be listed.
After the death of one partner, the surviving partner would have the option of changing the beneficiary. A joint will is a similar type of document, but the survivor would not be able to change the agreed-upon beneficiary designation.
An ethical will is the one type of will that is not legally binding in any way. At the same time, it can be one of the most meaningful parts of your estate plan.
Throughout your life, family members are have probably asked you for advice during difficult times. You will not be around to provide it forever, but in a living will, you can share your moral and spiritual values.
These documents have been around since biblical times, and there are no hard and fast rules about what you can include in the ethical will. It is essentially a heartfelt letter to family members that you use to share your “rules to live by.”
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If you are ready to put an estate plan in place, or if you need to revise your existing plan, our doors are open. We are maintaining a very safe workplace environment, and we also offer remote consultations, so you can get the help that you need without taking any risks.
You can set the wheels in motion if you give us a call at 310-337-7696, and there is a contact form on this website you can use if you would like to send us a message.