If you don't currently have a will or estate plan in place, you aren't alone. More than 55% of Americans don't have any documents stating their wishes upon their death. While it can be difficult to think about your own mortality, the drawing up of a will can save your loved ones considerable time and heartbreak. Below are three types of wills and the pros and cons of each.
In a number of states, a wills that was handwritten, signed, and dated by the deceased can be considered valid. These are called holographic wills. However, there are certain things to take into consideration before making one up without further assurances.
The majority of wills go through probate court to determine their validity. A holographic will may cause some difficulty in probate court. It has to be proven to have been written by you and there also must be assurances that you were of sound mind and not coerced into writing it in a certain way.
While there are certainly ways for the courts to do this, such as handwriting analysis by professionals, it takes considerable time and money and puts your loved ones through additional and unnecessary strain.
Except for in the rarest of circumstances, such as imminent danger, spoken wills are never recommended as a way of passing on your property and belongings to your loved ones.
Even though spoken wills can be upheld in probate court, it doesn't mean that they always will be, and it's easy enough for your words to be twisted beyond recognition so that your wishes aren't ever actually carried out.
This is the most legally binding option of the three, and it allows your family to move through probate court with the least amount of trouble upon your death.
Formal wills can be written with or without the assistance of a lawyer. So, what makes them formal and valid in the eyes of the court? The most easily proven wills are written by someone of a clear mind in the presence of at least two witnesses, preferably individuals who aren't named in the will. This ensures that no outside influences were involved in the drawing of the will and that the deceased was of a clear mind with solid intentions.
It's important to keep your will in a safe place and give knowledge of this location to your loved ones during your lifetime so that they have no trouble finding it upon your death.
For more information about wills, contact a professional like those at Brandt & Beeson PC.