Types of Wills and what you need to know about them

There are several types of Wills. A Will is a written or oral testament of how a person wants his property shared upon his demise. It must be voluntary written to be valid without force or undue influence. A testator must also have the capacity to make a Will for such a Will to be valid.

Types of Wills and what you need to know about them

However, we have written on some of the advantages of making a will. It is very important to know the several types of Wills that exist, so one can make an informed decision on the type of Will to make. The several types of Wills are: –

  1. STATUTORY WILLS: This is a Will that emanates from a statute. This type of will is regulated by the relevant statute. Strict compliance is required for the validity of the Will. This type of Will comes in forms, that is, a check and fill approach. This type of Will is less expensive.
  1. MUTUAL WILLS: This is where two or more persons execute the same Will, conferring a mutual benefit or reciprocal benefits on each other. It is common between husband and wife. In this case, none of the testators can revoke or amend without the consent of the other. Upon the death of either testator, the living testator acquires the entire property. The major difference between Mutual Will and Joint Will is that Mutual Will must have an irrevocable clause in it. A Mutual Will must also be made in a particular form. It must show that it is contractual in nature without any undue influence.
  1. JOINT WILLS: This is like a Mutual Will, but it is where two or more persons execute the same Will by which they give out their personal or joint properties to beneficiaries of their choice. Though it is in one document, it is seen as separate Wills of the testators. A Joint Will is not intended to be irrevocable or seen as mutual.
  1. NUNCUPATIVE (ORAL) WILLS:  This is an oral Will made before two or more credible witness. It is not a condition precedent that the maker of this type of Will must be on his death bed (death-bed wishes) in order to be valid. It is not valid in most regions, and not advisable, so as to avoid any challenge of such a Will.
  1. HOLOGRAPH WILLS: This is a Will made in the handwriting of the testator which lacks some of the basic pre-conditions for a valid Will. In most cases, holographic Will may not preclude intestate devolution of the estate of the testator. For this Will to be valid, it must be written in the hand-writing of the testator.
  1. SIMPLE WILLS: This type of Will is derived from its nature and name. Here there is no complexity in creating such a Will. A Simple Will provides for the outright and simple distribution of uncomplicated Asset of a person. Simple Will forms and templates can be bought in a stationary store or detached from a book and easily filled.
  1. VIDEO WILLS: This is the type of will made by Video recording. This type of Will involves the Testator stating his wishes before a Video Camera. This type of Will is now gaining popularity as it seen as a clear picture of the intent of the testator. This type of will supplements/compliments a written Will.


  1. LIVING WILLS: This type of Will doesn’t come into effect upon the death of the testator. It is not used to devolve properties by the testator to beneficiaries. This type of Will is only used to give directives in relation to any circumstance one may not be able to comprehend his own mental state/serious physical impairment. It is used to state what kind of treatment one has decided to likely undergo or forgo in a particular circumstance.
  1. WRITTEN CUSTOMARY WILLS: There is no consensus on the acceptability of this type of Will. This type of Will is common in Africa, eg. Nigeria. It does appear however that acceptability by the surviving members of the family and the genuineness of the written document purporting to be Customary Will may confer some measure of validity on the gifts contained in it. This will derive its validity from the customs of the people.
  1. PRIVILEGED WILLS: This is another form of nuncupative Will but made by a certain category of persons accorded special privilege to make a Will without necessarily complying with the statutory requirements. This category includes persons in active military service, regardless of his rank. However, there must a “warlike” situation for such a Will to be valid and not necessarily that a “war” took place.
  1. CONDITIONAL WILLS: This is a Will that is executed by a testator and made subject to a condition. A testator has the liberty to insert conditions and clauses in his Will. A testator can easily put some certain conditions in his Will that must be fulfilled before the beneficiaries of such a Will can benefit from the testator’s estate or property.

Other types of Wills include Testamentary Trust Wills, Pour-over Will, Mirror Wills, etc.


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