Are All Wills the Same?

You undoubtedly know what a Last Will and Testament is; however, did you know that not all Wills are the same? In fact, there are numerous types of Wills you can create. A Murfreesboro Wills lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby explains the various types of Wills so you can decide which one you need.

  • Simple Will. A simple Will is what you likely think of when you hear the term “Last Will and Testament.” This is what
    Last Will and Testament Document Ready to Sign. Last Will Document and Fountain Pen Closeup Photo.

    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 most 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 testamentary trust that does not take effect until your death at which time the terms of the Pour Over Will dictate that all estate assets be poured over into the trust. The terms of the trust are then used to hold and/or distribute your assets. A Pour Over Will can even be used in conjunction with a living trust to catch any assets that did not make it into the trust prior to the Settlor’s (your) death. 
  • Living Will. This is not a document that facilitates the distribution of your estate. Instead, a Living Will is a type of advance directive that 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. Most states no longer consider a holographic Will to be valid; however, Tennessee does recognize holographic Wills if the signature and all its material provisions are in the handwriting of the Testator and the Testator’s handwriting must be proved by two witnesses.
  • 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. Tennessee accepts these Wills if they dispose of personal property only that does not exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000), except that in the case of persons in active military, air or naval service in time of war the aggregate amount may be ten thousand dollars ($10,000). In addition, the following conditions must be met:
    • The Will was made by a person in imminent peril of death, whether from illness or otherwise, and if the Testator died because of the impending peril, and must be:
      • Declared to be the Testator’s will by the Testator before two disinterested witnesses. AND
      • Reduced to writing by or under the direction of one of the witnesses within 30 days after such declaration. AND
      • Submitted for probate within six months after the death of the Testator.
  • Reciprocal or Joint Will. Spouses who intend to leave all 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 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 a Murfreesboro Wills Lawyer

If you are ready to get started with your Last Will and Testament in Tennessee, it is important that you consult with an experienced Murfreesboro Wills lawyer to discuss which type of Will is best for you. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.

Dinah Michael