Key Takeaways

  • A will is an estate-planning document outlining the legal rights others will have over one’s property after their death
  • Testamentary Wills, Oral Wills, Holographic Wills , Mutual Wills and Pour-over Wills are the major types of Wills

What is a Will?

A will is an estate-planning document outlining the legal rights others will have over one’s property after their death. 

The will may include rights distribution/transfer of all or some of the property owned or controlled by a person and may consist of financial assets including bank and insurance accounts, tangible personal assets, immovable property and intellectual property.

Writing up a will is a part of estate planning during a person’s lifetime that distributes their estate upon death. A will is vital to avoid disputes among those left behind with a claim to the person’s assets/estate. 

A will is preferably drawn up with the help of legal, financial and taxation experts. 

End-of-life medical instructions, arrangements of burial or posthumous wishes may also get included in a will.

Types of Wills

Testamentary Wills

Testamentary wills are considered to be the best type of wills. The probability of the will being executed is very high with testamentary wills. The individual whose assets or properties are in consideration prepares the will by himself and signs in front of witnesses.

Holographic Wills

Holographic Wills are written by the person whose assets are in consideration but is signed without the presence of witnesses. Such wills are usually used when there is a shortage of time and the presence of witnesses is not possible. Holographic wills are not accepted in all states. In the states accepting such wills, often it is required to meet some criteria like proof that the will is indeed made and signed by the testator and the testator was mentally sound while doing so. Even if the will satisfies all the criteria, it is still prone to questioning on various grounds.

Oral Wills

Oral wills are less popular and are generally not well recognised. In oral will, the person speaks his will in presence of witnesses. Since this type of will lack written records of will prepared by the testator, it is of very less importance in legal matters.

Pour-Over Wills

A pour-over will is a will in which the testator creates a trust and writes that his/her property shall be donated to the trust.

Mutual Wills

Mutual wills are used by a committed or married couple. After the death of once party, other party is still bound by the mutual will.

What a Will covers?

A Will lets you dictate the distribution of your assets such as property, bank balance and other possessions. If you run a business, a will can dictate who shall inherit it and when. You can also choose to donate assets to a trust or charity. You can also direct your assets to an organisation or an institution as well.

Major portion of your assets can be distributed according to a will. But there are some items that are not covered by a will. Such exemptions are testator’s life insurance policy’s payouts which will be received by the beneficiaries specified in the policy. Also, a will dealing may not address the distribution of an asset jointly owned in a marriage.