Types of Wills

Personal Finance August 18, 2008 Print Friendly and PDF
Image of an ink pen and eyeglasses on a handwritten document

There are several types of wills:

Attested wills are the most common type of wills. An attested will is usually prepared by a lawyer in typewritten form and signed in front of several witnesses who have no benefit in the will. All of the witnesses must sign it in front of one another and in front of the person making the will. The will-maker must also sign it in front of all of the witnesses. All of the previously mentioned signatures occur at one time in the same place.

Holographic wills are hand-written wills. State laws vary regarding their validity. Holographic wills must be signed by the writer and are unwitnessed. They are often ambiguous or defective and may cause delay, expense, and litigation. It is wise to consult an attorney before writing your own will.

Oral wills are also called nuncupative wills. An oral will is spoken and not written down. Only permitted by a few states, oral wills are typically made during a last illness and for personal property that is small in value.

Self-proving affidavits or self-proving wills are legal in some states. A self-proving will is one that has been properly notarized and includes certification by the notary that it was properly signed by the witnesses and testator (will-maker). A self-proving affidavit serves as testimony, thereby avoiding the delay and expense associated with locating witnesses at the time of probate.