What is a Simple will?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 18 March 2020
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A simple will is a document used to stipulate how a person wants his assets distributed upon his death. This document may also name the creator’s minor children, designate who will act as guardians for them after his death, and name a person who will manage and control assets left to minors until they become legal adults. This document also names an executor, which is a person charged with ensuring that the stipulations in the will are carried out. Sometimes wills can be complex, but a simple will does a basic, no-frills job of naming inheritors, distributing property, and naming guardians and an executor.

In a simple will, a person names family members, friends, and others to whom he wishes to leave his property and indicates which property each person receives. For example, he may leave real estate to his wife but designate his collection of antique cars for his brother. The will creator can divide his property however he wishes. If there are minor children involved, he may leave property to them but also name an adult to control and manage assets for the minors until they are adults. This may not be necessary if a person is leaving a photo collection to a minor but is usually necessary when leaving bank accounts, stocks, and many other types of high-value property to minor children.


A person may also use a simple will to designate who will care for his minor children in the event of his death. For example, a person, in agreement with his spouse, may designate another relative to care for the minor children in the event that both parents die before they reach adulthood. If the will creator is divorced, however, his ex-spouse may care for the children after his death. If the surviving parent is declared legally unfit or is absent from the children’s lives, the will creator may name another party to take guardianship of the children.

When a person creates a simple will, he also names an executor. An executor is a person who is charged with settling the will creator’s affairs after his death and ensuring that the creator’s wishes are carried out. This usually includes locating and managing the deceased party’s assets until they are distributed, paying the deceased party’s debts and taxes, and distributing the deceased party’s assets as stipulated in his will. A will executor must also determine whether the will has to go through probate, which is a court process for determining whether a will is valid and distributing assets.


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