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How many types of wills are there?

Some New York residents among others across the country would rather discuss just about anything more than estate planning. Others, however, consider it a topic worth talking about and want to learn more about the process so they can design thorough plans of their own. A common question regarding the process of planning an estate has to do with wills and how many different types exist.

Asking whether a particular person who died had a will may not really lead to a clearly defined answer. The reason is that a person may indeed have executed a will, but it might not have been the type of will with which the person inquiring was concerned. That's because there are several types of wills.

Most people are familiar with a document known as a last will and testament. This is the most basic type of will regarding distribution of assets after death and related matters. A living will, on the other hand, is a document providing instructions regarding urgent medical care preferences should a person become incapacitated. Some states (including New York) recognize another type of will, referred to as an oral will, which -- as implied by the term -- is verbal rather than written. Generally speaking, recognition of this type of will typically includes limited applications and stringent restrictions.

A holographic will is vulnerable to challenge in the probate process. This is when an estate owner has handwritten and signed a will with no witnesses present. Once again, specific conditions apply. These are not the only types of wills that exist, and the laws in New York often differ from those in other states. For this and other reasons, it is often best to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney, such as Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP before executing a definite plan.

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