Basics About Wills

Why do I need a Will?

Your Will is your way to direct what happens with your property, your business affairs and, most importantly, with your minor children after your death. If you die without a Will, the descent and distribution laws of your state take over — and you may not like what they say.

As an example, if you die and leave young children, your state may require that a substantial portion of your estate pass to your children rather than to your spouse to manage in your children’s best interests. This can be a particular issue in second marriages and where you do not want property for minor children to be held under the control of a probate court.

Your Will gives you control:

  • You name guardians for minor children. This is the single biggest reason most people make a Will — and, perhaps, the biggest reason people avoid making a Will. If you seem unable to agree upon guardians now, we can help you resolve this critical issue. This is not a decision to avoid and leave to fate.
  • You appoint a representative for your estate, called the “executor” in most states. See our guidelines for choosing an executor.
  • You waive bond, which your estate’s representative may be required to post if you do not have a Will.
  • You give your executor power to sell assets, such as a house, without the expense and delay of obtaining appraisals and court approvals.
  • You decide how estate taxes will be paid, such as “off the top” or proportionately against certain beneficiaries.