The 5 Different Types of Wills In Estate Planning

Estate planning can feel overwhelming. With so many options and legal intricacies, it’s easy to put off thinking about the future. But everyone deserves clarity, confidence, and control when it comes to their legacy.

That’s why we’re here to walk with you on your estate planning journey, bringing insight and expertise every step of the way. A key part of this process involves understanding the different types of wills available so you can choose what’s right for you and your loved ones.

Why Your Will Matters

Imagine spending decades building a fulfilling life and providing for your loved ones, only to have your wishes disregarded after you’re gone. Without proper estate planning, your assets could be tied up in court for years, while your family faces unnecessary disputes trying to honor your legacy.

A thoughtfully crafted will is essential to ensuring your assets are distributed as you intend. It also designates trusted individuals to carry out your wishes, protects your loved ones, and helps minimize family conflict.

While no one likes to think about their own passing, taking steps now brings peace of mind, knowing you’ve looked out for your family’s best interests.

Different Types Of Wills

Simple Wills – The Most Common Option

For many people, a simple will is the right choice. These wills identify who inherits your assets after you pass away. They also name an executor to oversee the process and a guardian for minor children.

With a simple will, your estate goes through probate after your death. This is the court-supervised process of validating your will and approving asset distribution.

Simple wills have low upfront costs and are easy to update. However, probate can be lengthy, and your will becomes a public record. This may not fit if privacy is a priority.

Living Wills – Plan for Your Healthcare

Also called advance healthcare directives, living wills focus on medical decisions. They specify treatments you want or wish to avoid if you become incapacitated. This eases difficult decisions for loved ones regarding your care.

Living wills aren’t activated until you’re unable to make choices yourself. They help ensure your wishes are honored even if you can’t speak for yourself.

Pour-Over Wills – Combine with Living Trusts

Used with living trusts created during your lifetime, these wills “pour over” any leftover assets into your trust when you die. All assets can then be managed and distributed according to your trust terms, without probate.

Pour-over wills prevent anything unintentionally left out of your living trust from being excluded. This ensures your wishes are followed for all remaining assets. Probate is still required for assets not already in the trust, however.

Joint Wills – One Will Shared by a Couple

Joint wills allow married couples or partners to create one shared will. It reflects wishes for asset distribution after both pass away. This avoids the need for multiple wills.

Once the first spouse dies, these wills usually become irrevocable. At that point, the surviving spouse cannot alter the joint will alone. This prevents one spouse from disinheriting the other’s intended heirs.

Holographic Wills – Handwritten Wills

In some states, handwritten wills meeting certain requirements are legally valid holographic wills. These wills must be entirely in your own handwriting and signed by you. Witnesses aren’t required.

Holographic wills are inexpensive and simple to create. However, legal disputes often arise regarding their validity and intent. Most estate planning attorneys recommend more formal will options for this reason.

How to Choose the Right Will for You

With so many types of wills, how do you determine what’s best for your situation? Here are key factors to consider:

  • Your Assets – If you have substantial assets or real estate, a trust will may be preferable to avoid probate. Simple wills tend to work fine for smaller, less complex estates.
  • Privacy – Trust wills and living trusts keep details of asset distribution private. Simple wills become public court records during probate.
  • Control – Trusts allow precise control over how and when beneficiaries inherit from you. Simple wills offer less customizable distribution options.
  • Family Dynamics – Blended families, special needs children, and estranged relatives often benefit from customized trust planning.
  • Cost – Simple wills have lower upfront costs. But probate fees can add up. Trusts cost more initially but avoid probate costs later.
  • Convenience – Simple wills require fewer upfront meetings and documents. Trust wills involve more planning and coordination.
  • Peace of Mind – Trusts and living wills provide comfort that your wishes will be followed when you’re gone.

Every family’s needs are different. The estate planning lawyers at Hammond Law Group take the time to understand your unique circumstances, goals, and concerns when advising on the right will strategies for you.

Get Trusted Guidance Creating the Will That’s Right for You

While wills may not be something you look forward to, having one in place is a gift of love and forethought for those you hold dear. The team at Hammond Law Group has worked with thousands of families in Colorado Springs and across the state to create estate plans tailored to their needs and priorities. They’re readily available to guide you through the process as well.

To learn more about creating a customized plan for your family, schedule a consultation or attend one of their online estate planning workshops.

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