Lessons in Estate Planning: Four Types of Wills

Wills are among the most important tools in the estate planner’s toolbox. You have probably heard about them, but did you know that Wills can take several forms? Here are four commonly used Wills.

Simple Wills

what are the different types of willsWhen most people think about Wills, this is the one they have in mind. It allows you to specify who will receive your assets when you pass away. Without a Simple Will, your assets will be distributed according to state guidelines. These guidelines might not bear any resemblance to how you want your assets to be distributed. A Simple Will also allows you to choose guardians for your minor children. This is crucial because if something terrible happens to you and your spouse, the state will determine who has legal authority over your minor children. The state could very well choose a person or institution you would not want to have such authority.

Testamentary Trust Wills

A Testamentary Trust Will differs from a Simple Will in that it includes provisions that place some of your assets into a trust. These assets will then be distributed to your beneficiaries through your trustee. Why would someone want a Testamentary Trust Will? Let’s say one of your heirs is not yet mature enough to handle an inheritance on his or her own. By placing this heir’s inheritance into a Spendthrift Trust, your trustee can distribute those assets to your heir gradually and under certain, predetermined conditions. This will protect your heir’s inheritance against his or her poor decisions.

Joint Wills

Joint Wills are typically used by spouses to leave their assets to one another. With a Joint Will, the surviving spouse will inherit everything in the deceased spouse’s estate. When the surviving spouse ultimately passes away, the rest of the estate will be distributed to the couple’s heirs as stipulated by the Joint Will.  These types of Wills provide no protection for the surviving spouse and generally are not the best way to ensure their wellbeing after your passing.

Living Wills

This legal document allows you to choose, in advance, the types of medical treatments you want (or do not want) in an end-of-life situation. A Living Will only covers situations in which the medical condition is deemed terminal by two physicians or where the patient has been declared to be in a persistent vegetative state. In Maryland, you are allowed to combine a Living Will with a Medical Power of Attorney, thereby creating one legal document known as an Advance Medical Directive.

Choosing the Will Best for You

Have any of these Wills piqued your interest or are you still having trouble understanding your options? In either case, you can benefit from the legal counsel of a seasoned attorney. A seasoned estate planning lawyer at The Law Offices of Clifford M. Cohen can guide you through this vital step of the estate planning process.

Mr. Cohen has over 35 years of experience and regularly implements his keen knowledge of Maryland and DC estate planning laws to the benefit of those in need. It doesn’t matter if you have an estate plan that needs amending or you have yet to create a state-recognized plan. Our team can provide you with the legal assistance needed to craft a catered and comprehensive estate plan. Contact us today at 202-895-2799 for a free case evaluation.