Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Non-Traditional Wills

Will Most individuals visualize a typed, witnessed document when they visualize a will; however, many other will creation techniques exist. Three non-traditional wills and their characteristics are below:

Holographic Wills: Typically, a holographic will is entirely in the testator’s handwriting. About half the states recognize holographic wills, and some states recognize holographic wills that are not entirely handwritten. Benefits of holographic wills are convenience, simplicity, privacy, and cost savings.

Nuncupative Wills: This is a will created orally by the testator in the presence of a disinterested witness. Generally, the oral declaration must be made shortly before death when writing down the will is impossible. The declaration typically must be written down within a set number of days. Most states do not recognize nuncupative wills, and some states that do recognize these wills typically only do so for members of the armed services during a time of conflict or for individuals in imminent peril of death. Additionally, nuncupative wills can only dispose of person property.

Joint and Mutual Wills: Joint wills, sometimes called “love wills,” are typically written by a husband and wife. A joint will is one document that provides for the distribution of both the individuals’ property at their deaths. A mutual, or “mirror” will allows two or more individuals to agree how their property will be distributed upon their deaths. Each individual executes a separate will, but all the wills have a reciprocal, mutually binding provision. Both these types of wills can cause problems during probate, especially when one party to the will dies before the other(s).

For more information on non-traditional wills, see Connie Fontaine, Non-traditional types of wills, Pt. 1, ProducersWeb, Aug. 18, 2011.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (WealthCounsel) for bringing this article to my attention.

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