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Wills have a set of standards that must me met to be valid. The drafter of the will, known as the testator, must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. Some of the responsibilities of the testator are appointing an executor, providing for the distribution of property after death, and signing and dating the will in the presence of witnesses. Within these, and certain other limitations, you can draft a number of different types of wills. An attorney can help you decide what types of wills you need for your unique situation. State laws for the execution of each type of will vary and should be researched thoroughly. Having a properly drafted will can protect your loved ones in the event of your death.

Simple Wills

A simple will distributes the estate of a testator whose finances are simple. Many testators write simple wills themselves without difficulty. but the assistance of an attorney can help prevent mistakes that might lead to unintended legal consequences. A simple will should be printed instead of handwritten and should include the following: testator’s name, address, marital status, statements indicating which assets are to go to which beneficiaries, a section appointing an executor for the estate, a guardian for the testator’s minor children if the other parent is dead, and places for the testator and two or three witnesses to print and sign their names. The will should include the date it was signed and not the date it was written.

Testamentary Trust Wills

A testamentary trust will is a will that puts at least some of your property into a trust. A trust distributes your assets to a beneficiary but is administered by a third person who controls when and how the property is distributed to the trust beneficiary. You might establish a spendthrift trust, for example, for the benefit of a financially irresponsible beneficiary. The trust administrator would distribute the trust assets gradually instead of presenting them to the beneficiary in lump sum. Although the estate executor and the trust administrator may be the same person, they do not have to be. The format of a testamentary trust will can be similar to that of a simple will.

Joint Wills

A joint will is created by two testators who leave their property to each other. The testator who dies first gets everything. This type of will also specifies how the estate will be distributed when the second testator dies. A joint will cannot be revoked without the consent of both testators. It is irrevocable as soon as one of the testators dies. Like testamentary trust wills, the format of a joint will can be similar to that of a simple will.

Living Wills

A living will does not distribute property after the death of the testator. Instead, it provides instructions on what type of medical treatment you wish to receive if you become too ill to make sound decisions. In this type of will, you can state that if you become terminally ill and unconscious that you don’t want life supporting care if that care will only prolong the moment of your death. The requirements for a living will are more flexible than for the other types, but it should be written with detail and clarity.

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