What Does a Will Do Anyway?

A last will and testament is a fundamental part of any effective estate plan.  At its essential core, a Will directs where someone’s property goes when they die.  In most cases, a Will also contains a nomination of someone to serve as personal representative of their estate (executor) and may contain provisions relating to the necessity of a bond and the need for “supervised” or “independent” probate administration.  Property subject to a Will must go through the probate court in order to be transferred.  While a Will is part of nearly any estate plan, comprehensive planning often seeks to avoid probate and therefore often bypasses the use of a Will. Indeed, probate avoidance is commonly a central goal of effective estate planning and tools like a beneficiary designation, a living trust and a beneficiary deed are often utilized to avoid probate—each of which take property outside of the control of a Will.  While the specifics of any estate plan vary, a Will is nearly always one tool that we use to effectively reach a client’s goals.