A Will is a necessary document for your estate plan. It is the primary document for transferring many kinds of assets upon your death.
- You should decide who inherits which assets and when they should receive them.
- You should decide who will manage your estate as an executor or as a trustee.
- You should select a guardian for your minor children.
- You should provide for the orderly continuance (or sale) of a family business.
Many people put off drafting a will, however, this mistake is likely to fail to preserve for your heirs what it took a lifetime to achieve.
The phrase “you can’t take it with you” comes to mind. Since you cannot “take it with you” your assets will go somewhere. You want to control who gets what with your will.
Property that passes automatically (like life insurance) is called non-probate property. It does not have to pass through a court process to get to the beneficiaries. However, probate property (like real property under your name) must go through probate court.
The probate court will allow distribution to your heirs according to the terms of your Will, after the Will goes through a special proceeding.
A properly executed Will allows you to choose those individuals or organizations who will receive your property at your death.
Unless special circumstances arise, i.e., the Will is contested, the court will enforce your wishes as to the distribution of your property.
If you die without a Will, the property that you own in your own name will be distributed according to your state’s law of descent and distributions. This is referred to as intestate distribution. The state’s Will is an inflexible pattern of distribution that may not provide for the distribution you prefer.
You need a will as part of your estate plan.