Atlanta Estate Planning, Wills & Probate | Siedentopf Law

What are the Different Types of Wills?

If you have not yet begun to engage in estate planning, you may think that a will is a will is a will. There are, however, several different types of wills that are designed to accomplish very different goals. Read on to become familiar with these many types of Wills.


Simple Will

A Simple Will, is somewhat bare-bones. It spells out your desires regarding the distribution of your assets, who will be your Executor (the person you name to carry out the wishes you set in your Will) and can also name a guardian for your minor children. Simple Wills do not contain any special stipulations or clauses. It is very basic, and is meant for people who have straightforward property and assets with no complications. It may not be the best for your situation, but a qualified estate planning professional like those at Siedentopf Law can help you decide if this is right for you.

See More: Do you need an estate plan?

Testamentary Trust Will

A Testamentary Trust Will establishes one or more Trusts into which your property and assets are placed for the use of your beneficiaries. This type of trust is very useful when you have minor children. You name a Trustee who will manage the Trust for you according to your wishes. You can spell out when and how much will be paid out to your beneficiaries, and for what purposes. You will likely also spell out under what conditions the Trust(s) will be ended and the assets distributed. 

This type of Will can also establish a Special Needs Trust for a child or an adult who needs special considerations due to a disability. 

The Trustee will manage the assets held in the Trust until such time as they reach a final distribution.

See More: Learn about the different types of Trusts!

Joint Will

A Joint Will is a single testamentary document which is signed by both spouses. It is set up for couple to leave their assets to each other. At the death of one spouse, the other inherits the entire estate. The couple agrees ahead of time what will happen to the property and assets in the estate when both have passed. 

This type of Will is unusual in that it creates an irrevocable contract between the couple and cannot be changed after the death of one spouse. It is generally meant to prevent the estate from flowing to future spouses, step-children, or other beneficiaries that are not agreed upon by both spouses. 

Mutual Wills are similar to Joint Wills, but there are two separate documents, each signed by both parties.

Mirrored Will

Mirrored Wills are quite common among married couples. Two separate documents are created that are, essentially, identical with the exception of reversing the names. Normally the estates are left to the other spouse, with identical successor beneficiaries. Each usually names the other spouse as their Executor as well. 

Mirrored Wills do not create a contract between the spouses and each can change their Will as they see fit. There are no restrictions on the remaining spouse regarding making changes to their Will after the passing of their spouse.

Holographic Will

In Georgia, a Holographic Will is defined as a Will, either hand-written or typed, which is not properly witnessed according to Georgia law. Georgia requires that for a Will to be considered valid, it must be witnessed by two persons who are not related to the testator, and are not beneficiaries of the Will. They must be at least fourteen (14) years old. Because of this legal requirement, Holographic Wills are not valid in the State of Georgia.

Nuncupative Will

A Nuncupative Will, also called an “Oral Will,” is one that is spoken, not written. It is nearly impossible to prove the validity of this type of Will and they are generally not considered valid in the State of Georgia nor most any other state.

Pour-Over Will

A Pour-Over Will sets out your Executor, beneficiaries, and guardians for your minor children like any other Will, but it instructs your Executor to move your property and assets into a Trust which has already been established during your lifetime. Many of your assets may already be held in a Revocable Living Trust, and a Pour-Over Will moves the rest of your property and assets into the Trust, which becomes irrevocable at your death. 

Living Will

A Living Will is not a Will like most people think of one. A Living Will is actually a plan for your health care to be used to specify what you want to happen should you become incapacitated while still living. Having a Living Will does not take the place of having a Last Will and Testament. You need to have both in place.

A Living Will is a type of Advance Directive. This document spells out what medical treatments you are willing to accept or would prefer to refuse. You can also specific the circumstances under which you would prefer a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order.

See More: What’s the difference between a Living Will and a Last Will?


Sometimes, after you have executed your estate documents, changes in your situation or life circumstances may occur that require you to make changes to your Will. These changes can include the birth or death of loved ones, marriage, divorce, or many other possible changes. When this happens, you can start over with an entirely new Will, or you can execute a Codicil to the existing Will.

A Codicil can change or replace a portion of your existing Will, or it can add an entirely new section. In order to be considered valid, the Codicil must meet the requirement of a Will with regards to witnesses and any other requirements in your state.

How do you know which type of Will you need?

Making the decision which type of Will you need to meet your goals and take care of your beneficiaries can be confusing. The estate planning professionals at Siedentopf Law will go over your goals and estate with you carefully and will lead you through the process of getting the proper documents prepared and executed to protect the future of those you love. 

Contact Siedentopf Law today to make an appointment to begin your estate planning.

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