“A will is a document that allows you to direct how your belongings will be distributed when you die.”

What is a Will and why do I need one?

When we sit down with estate planning clients to discuss their needs; a very common question we hear is what is a will and why do I need one?  Most people have heard of wills and have a basic understanding as to what they do.  We thought we would take the time here to explain it a little better for our clients.

A will is a document that allows you to direct how your belongings will be distributed when you die.  It also allows for you to name a guardian for your children.  Preparing a will allows you to be in control of what happens after you die.  You get to name an executor, someone to be in charge of handling your estate.  And you decide who will be a beneficiary and what they will receive.  By naming a guardian for your children, you get to decide who takes care of them if something should happen to you.

Keep in mind that wills do not cover all your assets.  Things like retirement plans, life insurance policies, and assets held in joint tenancy with another party will not be distributed pursuant to the terms of your will, they will go to the designated beneficiary or joint tenant.

Everyone should have a simple will at a minimum as part of their estate plan.  If you are still young and single or married with children, you need at least a simple will.  Keep in mind that a will is just the beginning step in a complete estate plan.  We will be discussing other estate planning documents, such as trusts and powers of attorney, in future posts.