The decision to create a will is the first step in estate planning. But did you know that there is more than one type of will? Deciding which one is best for you will depend on many factors surrounding your estate and how you wish for it to be distributed. It also depends on whether or not the type of will you're considering is recognized as valid in all states.
A simple or statutory will
Considered a one-size-fits-all will, a simple or statutory will is a document that can qualify as a do it yourself will by using an online state-specific template that meets your state's legal requirements. These types of wills work best for those who have small and less complicated estates.
The holographic will
Remember those old movies where people would scribble out their last will and testament on a piece of paper, sign it, and that was it? The holographic will works in much the same way by allowing you to handwrite, sign and date your will yourself - no witnesses required. However, what you need to know is that holographic wills can be subject to a great deal of vulnerability in probate court, not to mention that only around half of the states will actually recognize a holographic will as valid.
The oral or nuncupative will
Also known as “deathbed wills” oral or nuncupative wills are spoken, not written. You simply express how you want your property distributed after you die to another person. Much like the holographic will, not all states recognize oral wills and those that do, impose strict requirements.
When you set up a living trust, you can use this type of will to name the trust as your primary beneficiary. When you die, any assets that were not already named in your trust will then “pour” into it by virtue of the will and be distributed according to its terms.
Conditional or contingent wills
A conditional or contingent will specifies that its provisions are only valid if a certain event does or doesn't happen. For example, a beneficiary may not be entitled to an inheritance until they reach a certain age, graduate college, or any other condition of your choosing. If the condition in the will is not met and the person does not have another will, the estate will be distributed as if no will existed.
No matter the type of will you choose, it is always a good idea to discuss your plans with an estate planning lawyer to be sure that your document will do what you want it to, and it is valid in your state.