A will is typically the most “central” document within any estate plan; its primary function is to dispose of an individual’s probate property at death. Wills certainly have other purposes, though, including:

-Appoint a guardian(s) for the decedent’s minor children
-Appoint a personal representative to administer and facilitate the estate (and potentially the probate process), as well as distribute the estate’s assets
-Determine which devisees will bear the burden of paying transfer taxes and other probate administration costs

As you can see, wills are used to first record a true representation of a testator’s intentions and then ensure those intentions are carried out accordingly at death. Because a properly-drafted will can do much more than dispose of property, individuals owning any amount of property should have a will drafted. The disadvantages of an individual failing to prepare a will before death (dying “intestate”) can be numerous; the decedent’s family members could be unnecessarily forced to (a) make difficult decisions themselves in lieu of allowing the decedent’s true wishes to dictate, (b) involve the court system, and (c) pay large amounts of attorney/court fees. For these many reasons, all individuals should execute a properly-drafted will to avoid the often significant inconveniences of dying intestate.


Photo by: ell brown