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Different Types of Last Will and Testaments: Decoding the Legalese

By Howard C. Stross
April 28, 2014

There are several types of last will and testaments. The terms can be confusing but we will help you understand them. At Stross Law Firm, P. A., we pride ourselves on speaking in plain English instead of legalese. Below are explanations of some different types of wills. 

Pour Over Will. A pour over will is a type of last will and testament that works in conjunction with a revocable living trust. A living trust should be funded during the trustmaker’s lifetime. If there are assets that are not transferred to the trust, the pour over will acts like a funnel and “pours over” any probate assets into the trust.

Holographic Will. John Grisham fans who have read the Testament may have heard of this type of last will and testament. A holographic will is a last will and testament that is handwritten. Some states give special consideration to handwritten wills and may not require witnesses. However, in Florida, two attesting witnesses are required regardless of whether the last will and testament is handwritten. A prior blog article discussed the recent Aldrich v. Basile case where someone tried to amend her will with a handwritten note. The handwritten note did not have the required two witnesses so it was not valid.

Self-Proving Will. Florida law requires a last will and testament to have two attesting witnesses. As experienced estate planning attorneys, we go the extra step and also attach an affidavit signed by the testator and the witnesses in front of a notary. The will with the affidavit is called a self-proving will. The purpose of the self-proving affidavit is to confirm under oath that the witnesses actually saw the testator sign the will. This eliminates an additional step in the probate process after the testator dies.

When is a will not a will? A living will has nothing to do with the disposition of your property after you die. Therefore, a living will is not a type of last will and testament. However, it is an important part of your estate plan. Stay tuned for a future blog article that will discuss this document.

This article is for general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. If you have questions about last wills and testaments, call us at 813-852-6500 to schedule a free consultation with an estate planning attorney.

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