Statutory wills are wills that follow the standard language contained in a state wills statute. It is generally a standardized form that the testator (the will creator) completes. Statutory wills are therefore very simple. They still need to be executed with all the required will formalities, such as being signed, dated, and have the required witnesses. Not all states allow for the use of statutory wills.
Statutory wills have some advantages and disadvantages. They may be suitable for some persons, but other people may find them either limiting or restricted in their scope.
Some advantages of statutory wills include:
- Are simpler and less complex than other will types
- Can often be obtained easily
- Smaller risk of violating state will requirements, since the document follows the statutory language
- Are generally easy to work with
Some disadvantages associated with statutory wills may include:
- May not cover all the testator’s needs due to its simplicity
- Not allowed in every state
- Can leave gaps in covering the person’s entire estate
- Still requires some legal guidance for filling it out and executing it
Thus, you should inquire first to see if statutory wills are allowed in your state. If they aren’t it likely means that such a will won’t be accepted in your jurisdiction. This can lead to legal problems or will contests in the future. If you are unsure, you may want to draft your own will so that you know for certain that you’re covering all the items in your estate.
Also, just because a person can obtain a statutory will form doesn’t mean that they’re qualified to make a will. The person must be of legal age and have the mental capacity to form a will.
Non-statutory wills are those will that don’t exactly follow the state will requirements. Some jurisdictions allow non-statutory wills, provided that they do not actually conflict with the state requirements. This may sometimes apply for example to living wills. Again, these types of distinctions are going to be different in each area, and may also be subject to change over time.
Statutory wills can sometimes be useful, but they may not be ideal in every situation. You may wish to hire an estate lawyer for help when it comes to drafting and/or modifying a will. An attorney can provide you with expert legal advice on how to create your will, and can represent you in court if a lawsuit arises in connection with your will.