Drawing up a Last Will and Testament is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to making sure your loved ones will be taken care of and ensuring that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes after you pass.
With so many different types of Wills in Maryland available, it’s essential to understand each type before determining which option is right for you.
In this article, we will explore 5 types of Wills in Maryland, explain what makes them unique and who will benefit from them, and discuss how they can make sure your loved ones will be taken care of in case the worst happens.
Table of Contents
1. Simple Will
A Simple Will, also called a Basic Will is just what it sounds like: a barebones Will that includes, at a minimum:
- A list of all your property and assets-this includes land, money, digital property (such as stocks), family heirlooms, and safety deposit boxes
- A list of all your heirs-a list of the people you want to receive property from your estate
- An outline for how to distribute your estate-an outline for who will get what
- The appointment of a personal representative-naming someone who will oversee the distribution of your assets
If you have minor children, we also highly recommend the optional element of guardianship-a plan for who will care for your minor children if the worst happens.
Who is a Simple Will ideal for?
A Simple Will is one of the types of Wills in Maryland that is ideal for individuals who are under 50, in good health, and are not concerned about the delays and expenses of probate.
2. Joint Will
A Joint Will is a type of Will in Maryland that covers 2 people-typically a married couple. It usually includes instructions for how to divide an estate if one partner passes before the other.
The plan usually looks something like this:
When one spouse dies, the estate goes to the surviving spouse. When the second spouse dies, the estate goes to their children.
While Joint Wills are valid in Maryland, we do not recommend them for 4 reasons:
(1) They are inflexible
They bind both spouses to the same terms and conditions, even if circumstances change.
(2) They can lead to confusion
Joint Wills can lead to confusion and disputes between the parties if there are disagreements or changes in their individual wishes.
(3) After one partner dies the Will cannot be changed
Once the first spouse dies, the Will cannot be changed to reflect different circumstances.
(4) Judges may throw them out
Because Joint Wills can be restrictive, many Maryland judges dislike them. During the probate process, judges often separate both spouses in the Will-or throw the Will out altogether.
Who is a Joint Will ideal for?
A Joint Will is typically considered when a couple is in complete agreement about how they want their estate to be distributed, they only have a few heirs, and their estate is not complicated.
Even so, Estates and Trusts attorneys do not recommend them. If there are any complications, a judge is inclined to throw them out altogether.
It is typically better to have separate, individual Wills that reflect each person’s individual wishes and can be updated over time as necessary.
3. Holographic Wills
Holographic Wills refer to types of Wills in Maryland that are not notarized or witnessed. They are written and signed by the person making the Will (AKA; the “Testator”). While they are invalid in many other states, Maryland does recognize them.
Holographic Wills are typically useful for individuals who do not have access to a lawyer, as they are simple to create and do not require third-party signatures or witnesses.
However, Holographic Wills must follow very strict guidelines and are often contested in court. If they do not follow these guidelines exactly, they are likely to be thrown out.
Who is a Holographic Will ideal for?
Holographic Wills can be useful for individuals who do not have complex estates and wish to create a Will quickly and easily without involving a lawyer or witnesses. However, most experienced attorneys do not recommend these types of Wills in Maryland.
4. Living Will
No one likes to think about the worst-case scenario, but a Living Will is a type of Will in Maryland that will make sure your wishes are honored if you lose the ability to make medical decisions for yourself.
A Living Will outlines which steps will be taken if a person becomes incapacitated due to an accident or illness and can no longer make decisions for themselves.
Living Wills are an element of an Advance Medical Directive, where the person can specify treatments they want or want to avoid. Living Wills also typically appoint someone (usually a spouse or other family member) to make medical decisions on their behalf if they are unable to make them for themselves.
Who is a Living Will ideal for?
We highly recommend Living Wills for people who are over 18 or have any serious medical issues.
Living Wills can also be particularly favorable for individuals who have strong religious, moral, or personal beliefs that they wish to follow-even in the case of incapacity.
Living Wills can also save families from making difficult decisions during an emotional time and can provide peace of mind that the person’s wishes will be respected.
5. Testamentary Trust
A Testamentary Trust is actually not one of the types of Wills in Maryland. Rather, it is an optional element in a Will that allows a third-party trustee to manage assets being distributed from an estate. This can be helpful for individuals who have complicated estates or are concerned about how their estate assets will be managed after they pass.
For example, a Testamentary Trust allows the Testator to specify when and how heirs will receive money from their estate. It can also provide financial management of assets for minors or other beneficiaries who may not be capable of making financial decisions.
However, Testamentary Trusts are only as good as the instructions included in the Will. They require careful thought and consideration and can easily be contested by heirs if they are unclear or in conflict with state law.
Who should consider a Testamentary Trust?
Testamentary Trusts can be useful for individuals who have complex estates, multiple dependents, special needs individuals, or want to provide financial management of their assets after they pass. It is important to remember that these types of wills in Maryland require careful consideration and should not be created without the help of a lawyer.
“Which Types of Wills in Maryland Are Right for Me?”
Which type of Will is right for you depends on your needs.
The best way to determine which type of Will is right for you is to contact an experienced Estates and Trusts lawyer. They will work with you to determine which type of Will is best for you, depending on your needs and specifications.
PathFinder Law Group is an Estates and Trusts Law Firm That Can Help
The bottom line is this: There are various types of Wills in Maryland and it can be hard to figure out which Will is right for you.
Contact an experienced Estates and Trusts Law Firm to figure out which type is for you, based on your needs.
PathFinder Law Group is an experienced Estates and Trusts Law Firm. We will help you by:
- Discussing your needs and determining which types of Wills in Maryland are for you
- Drawing up a Will that is legally binding, comprehensive, and will hold up in court
- Providing you with clear-cut directions for how and where to file your Will
- Guiding and supporting you through the whole process
PathFinder Law Group has successfully helped scores of Maryland residents to create Wills that really make a difference.
Making a Will is something you want to do precisely and attentively. Don’t waste time and money making a Will that is not comprehensive or will not hold up in court. Making a Will that is right for you is too important. It represents peace of mind and confidence that your wishes will be followed-if the worst should happen.
Let the best Estates and Trusts Law Firm in Maryland make your Will for you!