A legal will is a document that designates the division of a person’s property following death. The person making the will is known as the testator. Following a person’s death, probate proceedings are initiated to confirm the validity of the will and to execute the terms of the will. In order to avoid the probate process, it is necessary to establish a living trust.
In addition to describing the division of property among heirs and beneficiaries, wills can be used to name guardians over minor children and give directives to the guardians as to where the children should live and how their assets should be controlled. Furthermore, a will can name an executor to make discretionary decisions about properties not explicitly named in the will.
A living will is not actually a will in the legal sense of the word. A living will is actually the combination of a medical power of attorney and a financial power of attorney, and states who will be responsible for making decisions about your health and your estate in the event you are medically incapacitated. To find more information about living wills, please consult our Powers of Attorney page.
A will is a simple but necessary precaution that even relatively young people should take to minimize court proceedings and costs in the event of an unexpected death.