A will is the document that states your intentions regarding who will handle your estate, to whom and under what terms distributions will be made, and the care of your minor children.
Without a will:
- Your family may not get full use of estate tax exemptions
- Beneficiaries of your estate are determined by state law which may not be the people you want to receive your assets
- If there is no qualified heir (generally a family member) the your estate assets go to the State rather than friends or charitable organizations of your choice
- Assets are generally distributed outright even if a trust would have been better (due to minority or disability issues)
- Minor children may receive a large amount of money at age 18 when a later age would be more appropriate
- The personal representative of your estate may not be who you want.