A "Last Will and Testament" or a "Will" is a legal document that expresses your postmortem wishes. It appoints a personal representative or executor to administer your estate. It designates a guardian of the person and property of minor children. It usually covers burial instructions, funeral expenses and estate tax apportionment. However, it is most commonly understood to govern the transfer of a deceased person's property to his/her designated beneficiaries. The term "Property" includes everything you can possibly own, such as cash, stocks, bonds, houses, vehicles, jewelry, artwork, business interests, and even future interests-think Michael Jackson. His estate will be open for a very long time. In other words, property is everything you own, both now and in the future. *Please note that a will does not avoid probate. A properly drafted and executed estate plan will remove all assets from your name and provide for a smooth transition for your family not only after death (avoiding probate), but in the event you become incapacitated from injury or illness (guardianship). It's a no-brainer for both financial as well as emotional reasons. Depending on the complexity of the estate, an administration can last for years. In our economic environment, it can take even longer because there are less clerks, court staff and case managers. It's also dangerously unpredictable and avoidable thus resulting in unnecessary administration expenses (including attorneys' fees and costs). You should make a will as soon as you have children, get married, acquire any assets, and especially if you incur material changes afterwards.
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