What is a Simple Will?

What is a Simple Will?

by Michelle Fabio, Esq., March 2015

If you die without a valid last will and testament, state law will decide what happens to your estate—and who inherits what—after your death. The easiest way to avoid this result is to prepare a simple will, also known as a basic will, to express your wishes.

Want to learn more about simple wills, the difference between a complex will and a simple will, and how you can create a simple will for yourself in a matter of minutes? Read on.

What Is a Simple Will?

A simple will is a legal document that details the wishes of the testator (the person writing the will) regarding asset distribution upon the testator’s death. Within the will, the testator names an executor, the person who will be in charge of handling the estate when the time comes.

A simple will can also be used to name a guardian for minor children as well as someone to handle the financial affairs of the children.

Is a Simple Will for You?

Whether or not a simple will is the correct choice for you depends primarily on two major considerations:

(1) Are you under the age of 50 and in good health?

(2) Do you have a small estate whose value would make it exempt from estate taxes?

If you answered “yes” to both of those questions, a simple will might do the job for you.

Difference Between Simple Will and Complex Will

On the other hand, if your estate would be subject to estate taxes upon your death, you would require more of a comprehensive estate plan, which means that a simple will just wouldn’t cut it.

In that situation, you should consult an estate attorney in your state to discuss drafting a complex will. Just as it sounds, a complex will is more in-depth and contains more complicated provisions than would be found in a simple will.

You should also consider a complex will in the following situations:

  • If you would like to arrange for your money to be distributed through a trust after your death whether it’s for the benefit of a special needs child, children from a previous marriage, future generations, or otherwise.
  • If you feel there’s a possibility that the will could be contested.
  • If you own a business.
  • If you expect to accumulate more significant assets.

How to Create a Simple Will

Making a simple will does not have to be complicated. In fact, you could have your document ready in minutes by using an online simple will form. These forms are primarily fill-in-the-blanks and don’t take very long to complete, which means you could be holding your perfectly legal, simple will before you know it.

Still, even if you’re certain that all you need is a simple will, you may want to consult an attorney to make sure such a form has all your interests covered.

Whether you opt for a simple will, complex will, or another estate planning option, the most important thing is that you get your wishes recorded now so you know they will be followed once you’re gone. The peace of mind you'll acquire by doing so is truly priceless.

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