A will is a legal document that upon one’s death, basically does four things:

  1. It gives your instructions and wishes as to how your assets and property are to be distributed after you die.  It is a statement that must be written, signed and witnessed in compliance with your state’s laws.
  2. It names your beneficiaries, the people you want to receive your assets, as well as the details of your possessions.
  3. It allows you to choose an executor, the person you want to manage the distribution of your assets. If you don’t have a will, a court-appointed person called an administrator will distribute your assets.
  4. You may choose a guardian to care for your children if you die while your children are minors. For this reason, even if you are a young adult with few assets,  you should have a at least a will and nomination of guardian(s)  if you have children.

It is a myth that wills prevent the probate process. After one’s death, a will must go through probate if the value of decedent’s assets are more than $150,000.00. Thus, if you only have a will there is no asset protection for your benefactors.  Probate fees, attorney fees (which are established by law )  and any estate taxes that are applicable will come out of the estate.

Trusts protect your estate from the probate process and your assets for your benefactors.