From Our “Ask a Question” mailbag: “What are the possible types of Wills in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania?”
Most recently updated April 28th, 2018.
What Is a Will?
Simply put, a will is a writing that specifies the beneficiaries who are to inherit the testator’s assets, names a representative to administer the estate and who is responsible for distributing the assets to the beneficiaries. To be valid a testator you must have legal capacity when the will is written and follow state law.
Wills vary widely in degrees of complexity and can help you achieve any number of wealth and tax goals.
What Type of Wills are Possible in Montgomery County?
Montgomery County estate planning attorneys use different terms to refer to wills that address various goals. Most names we use for wills reflect the will’s characteristics. For example, a simple will is a basic document giving all assets outright to one or more persons without any specific bequests, protective trusts and without addressing tax planning. In short, a “simple will” is “simple.”
Beyond a simple will, there are many more complex wills that each address a specific type of estate plan. For example, a testamentary trust will refers to a will that within its terms creates one or more trusts upon your death, while a pour-over will refers to a will that transfers probate estate assets into a revocable living trust formed by the testator separately from the will.
Types of Wills Signed by Couples.
Couples can sign three types of wills:
- Contracts to will refer to wills that contain terms that bind two people, typically spouses to specific conditions in their wills, which take effect at death. For example, a married couple might have contracts to will terms stating that the second to die is obligated to leave all Montgomery County land to child 1 and all liquid assets to child 2. Once the first spouse dies, the survivor is legally bound to follow these terms no matter how long the second spouse might outlive the first. If the survivor attempts to change the terms, the beneficiaries can bring a claim before the Montgomery County Orphans’ Court.
- Reciprocal Wills are in which two people, usually spouses, can have wills that are identical with the exception of referring to each other as the heir. Unlike a contract to will, the survivor is free to change the terms after the first person dies.
- Joint Wills allow two persons, usually spouses, to sign a single will. Typically these wills give all assets to the surviving person in the trust and then document states where the remainder will pass at the survivor’s death. Usually, the terms cannot be changed after the first person’s death.
Some other types of wills include:
- A holographic will, which describes a handwritten, unwitnessed will. Most states do not recognize holographic wills. Holographic wills tend to create ligation over the testator’s intent. But, the Montgomery County Register of Wills will accept a correctly executed Montgomery County holographic will.
- An Oral Will is A verbal will not in writing is an “Oral Will.” Few states recognize oral wills, including Pennsylvania. The Montgomery County Register of Wills will not accept an oral will.
For more detailed information, see my article, “Last Will and Testament, Everything You Need to Know.”
In Conclusion: What are the possible types of Wills in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania?
In this Post, I tried to address the various types of Wills. Hopefully, you now understand the types of Wills. But, if you have more questions, please call to speak with one of our experienced estate planning lawyer who is ready to answer your questions. Further, I included links to even more detailed information on my website. So, let me know how I did, comments and questions are welcome!
Furthermore, I would be happy to answer your questions. If you have any other matters feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. We try to make the process as painless as possible!
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