There are many tools you can use to achieve your estate planning goals, but a Will is probably the most vital and basic instruments in estate planning. A Will provides for the disposition of one's property after death, it nominates a personal representative and provides instructions for the personal representative for estate administration. Each estate plan is unique. Therefore, a Will can be simple or it can be complex.
Probably the greatest advantage of a Will is that it allows you to avoid intestacy. That is, with a Will, you get to choose who will get your property, rather than leave it up to state law. If you do not currently know what assets you may have in the future, you can leave your property to your beneficiaries in shares or percentages to them. Additionally, you can make gifts of cash, specific personal property (an heirloom, jewelry, furniture) or real estate. If you choose, you can also attach a statement to your Will disposing of tangible personal property. This Will attachment can be changed or amended at any time without going through the formalities of a Will or codicil.
In some cases, a Will may not be the most effective way to dispose of your assets. If you have minor children, loved ones with special needs or your estate may be subject to estate taxes, you may need more advance estate planning that incorporates other estate planning tools such as Trust.