The cornerstone to anyone’s estate planning is a written Last Will and Testament. A Will is a legal document that outlines how you want your estate handled when you die. In a Will you get to name who gets your property‚ who will be left in charge of overseeing the distribution of your property‚ who is designated to care for minor children‚ name charitable gifts‚ and determine tax planning provisions. If a person dies without having a Will‚ the laws of your state of residence will decide how your estate is distributed when you die. Typically a court will oversee this distribution in a process called probate.
Probate is a court proceeding to wind up the affairs of someone who has died. This process can be timely and drain the value of your estate through court costs and attorney fees. All Wills must be probated‚ however the probate process can be limited or avoided all together with proper estate planning.