You undoubtedly know how important it is to have a valid Last Will and Testament. Did you know, however, that there are several different kinds of Wills? If not, you are hardly alone. Most people are unaware that there are different types of Wills. To help ensure that you create the right type of Will for your needs, the Oklahoma City estate planning attorneys at Parman & Easterday explain the various types of Wills.
- Simple Will – A Simple Will is what you likely think of when you hear the term “Last Will and Testament.” This is what most people who have relatively modest, uncomplicated assets choose to execute. A Simple Will is appropriate to distribute a modest estate that includes uncomplicated assets. A Simple Will is also used to avoid intestate administration of the estate.
- Pour-Over Will – You may decide to use a trust agreement to distribute the majority of your estate assets instead of a Last Will and Testament. If so, you will also need to execute a Pour-Over Will. A Pour-Over Will is used to “pour over” the estate assets into the trust at the time of your death. You will establish a living trust that you create during your lifetime. Other than retirement-type assets, annuities and life insurance, you should have your assets titled in the name of the trust. If an asset is omitted, the asset(s) will have to be probated. During probate the Pour-Over Will direct,or “pour”, all probated assets into the trust. The terms of the trust are then used to actually hold and/or distribute your assets.
- Living Will – The term “Living Will” is a bit deceiving because this is not a document that facilitates the distribution of your estate. Instead, a Living Will, sometimes referred to as an advance directive, allows you to make healthcare decisions in advance in the event you are unable to make them yourself because of your own incapacity at some later point.
- Holographic Will – A holographic Will is a written document that you signed and dated in your own handwriting, but that is not witnessed. Most states no longer consider a holographic Will to be valid; however, Oklahoma will accept a holographic Will for probate if it meets the following requirements:
- The Will must be entirely in the handwriting of the person making the Will.
- The person making the Will must date the Will.
- The Will must have the signature of the person making the Will.
- Oral or Nuncupative Will – A nuncupative Will is an oral, or spoken, Will that the Testator tells someone (a witness) prior to death. Most states also no longer recognize nuncupative Wills. Oklahoma will recognize an oral Will if the following requirements are met:
- The Will distributes no more than $1,000 worth of assets, AND;
- The Will must be proved by two witnesses present when the Will was made and at least one of whom was asked by the Testator to bear witness as such, AND;
- The Testator must have been in the actual military service in the field or duty at sea and in actual contemplation, fear, or peril of death, OR;
- The Testator must have been in expectation of immediate death from injury received the same day.
- Reciprocal or Joint Will – Spouses who intend to leave all of their property to one another often create reciprocal or joint Wills. The surviving Testator will inherit everything upon the death of the first spouse. The idea is that when the surviving Testator passes away, the remaining estate will be distributed to the couple’s chosen beneficiaries, pursuant to the terms of the Will. Reciprocal Wills may be changed by the Testator, even after the death of one spouse; however, if you execute a joint Will, the terms cannot be modified or revoked after the death of the first spouse.
- Conditional or Contingent Will – This is a type of Will that only takes effect upon the occurrence of a condition or event. A common example of a condition is a beneficiary reaching the age of majority. If the condition is not met, the Will does not take effect and the Testator’s estate is probated as an intestate estate if no other valid Will exists.
- International Will – If you own property in another country, you may need an international Will in order to avoid considerable confusion during the probate of your estate. In 1973, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) held a Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will. Wills that meet the requirements are recognized by participating countries.
Contact Oklahoma City Estate Planning Attorneys
For additional information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding the various types of Wills, or you are ready to get started creating your Last Will and Testament, contact the experienced Oklahoma City estate planning attorneys at Parman & Easterday by calling 405-843-6100 to schedule your appointment today.