A will is a written declaration of who receives your property after your death (beneficiary) and who you want to handle the business of your estate (executor). It can also be used to create a trust.
Why do I need one?
When you yourself make your wishes known using a will, the State no longer has to guess at what should happen. You have identified your beneficiaries, you have picked someone you trust to take charge. Without a will, the court must follow specific and costly procedures to identify who are your heirs and how much does each person inherit. You know you have two children, but the court does not and cannot ask you, and therefore must spend time and money confirming that you only have two children.
What does a will not do?
A will does not create guardianship or grant power of attorney. While it can be used to create trusts, these are usually simple trusts for the care of minor children or disabled adults. A will is also not a business succession plan. A business owner needs to plan out a variety of other documents to ensure the smooth transition of a business.
Why is a power of attorney important?
A financial (durable) power of attorney grants your chosen agent the power to make financial decisions on your behalf. You are the only person who can give that power to another, your children or your parents are not permitted to sign a power of attorney for you. A person without a durable power of attorney will require a guardian of the estate, who is appointed by a judge after a trial.