A statutory will form is a type of simple will adopted by a small number of states to provide a legal form of making a will simply by completing the form and properly executing it in accordance with state law requirements.
A statutory will form allows you to accomplish several important estate planning objectives, such as:
1. Name a guardian for minor children. See guardianship.
2. Name an executor to administer your estate and a custodian to manage any property inherited by a minor child.
3. Name the beneficiaries you want to inherit your assets rather than allowing them to pass to legal heirs under the laws of intestate succession. Under state laws, dying without a will often leads to your estate being distributed in a manner you would not expect.
See also types of wills and wills and trusts.
State Will Forms
To access statutory will forms and find out if your state has an approved statutory will form, go to state will forms. If your state does not have a statutory will form, you may need other options. You can make your own last will and testament, as well as other basic estate planning documents, using
estate planning software. This type of software typically provides will forms you can customize based on your estate planning preferences.
To ensure your will is valid and complies with applicable state law, have your will form reviewed by an attorney. For tips on how to find an affordable, qualified estate planning lawyer, go to
finding an attorney.
Self-Proving Will Forms
Many states have adopted a statutory form of affidavit that may be used to make a self-proving will. To find these free forms for a particular state, go to
Self-Proving Will Forms.
Advantages of Statutory Will Forms
Ideally, your last will and testament should be drafted by an attorney. However, practical realities often prevent people from using a professional estate planner. A small number of states offer statutory will forms to ensure all their citizens have access to basic estate planning
documents regardless of income.The advantages of using a statutory will form include: 1. Can be used if you have a very small, uncomplicated estate, with very few assets and simply want to name a beneficiary to inherit any property you may own when you pass.
2. Allows you to make a last will without paying a lawyer or paying the cost of estate planning software. Except for any costs associated with executing the will, using a statutory will form is typically free. 3. Can be used if you need to make a will immediately and do not have time to meet with an attorney.
Disadvantages of Statutory Will Forms
1. A statutory will form subjects your estate to probate, a process many people wish to avoid. If you are going to use a statutory will, you may want to learn about
Non-Probate Transfers that can be set up by completing certain paperwork.2. A statutory will form is not customized for your specific situation. By using a statutory will form instead of meeting with an attorney about your estate plan, you may miss out on many benefits of estate planning, such as reducing estate taxes, engaging in Medicaid planning for long term care, maximizing wealth creation for future generations, and reducing the potential for will contests or challenges. For example, if you would like to add a testamentary trust to your will to provide for a spouse, children or grandchildren, you will need to have your will drafted by an attorney that can add the necessary trust provisions.3. Most statutory will forms prevent you from adding any language or making changes. Therefore, if you want to include specific language in your will, such as regarding disinheriting an heir or details regarding your last wishes, it may not be possible with a statutory will form.
4. When people use free estate planning forms to make critical legal documents such as a will, errors and mistakes are common. See fatal errors in execution. If you have an existing will or trust, or ever made a will or trust in the past, make sure you consult an attorney about how to properly revoke or change your existing estate planning documents. See codicils and amendments.