A will is legal document and sets forth who will manage your estate after you die. Your estate can consist of large items, including real estate, but also contain small items that hold sentimental value. You can determine who will receive these in your will.
There are legal terms contained in these documents that you should be aware of:
The person who will manage your estate is called the “executor” and should be willing to execute your wishes as written.
A “guardian” can be named for your minor children or dependents.
Whoever you declare to receive any of your assets is called a “beneficiary”.
Some types of assets are not covered by wills including insurance policies and retirements accounts. You should take the opportunity to list people as beneficiaries for these when you set them up. Then, updating or amending those documents should be part of adjusting your wishes should circumstances change and an attorney can provide guidance and reminders as you do so.
Those who do not have a valid will at the time of death, become “intestate” and their estate is then settled based on laws of their state. Probate is the legal process of transferring the property and assets of someone who has died without a will to rightful heirs. Setting up a Will is certainly the best way to be sure your wishes will be honored. In addition to your Will, there will be other estate documents that will be important to future planning and these should also be discussed with your attorney.