A Will is a basic estate planning document and performs a number of important functions following your death. It not only identifies the loved ones whom you want to receive your property after you die, but also the person who will be in charge of your estate in probate (your “Personal Representative”). This person will be responsible for paying the final bills of your estate, collecting all of your property, and distributing that property to your designated beneficiaries.
If you have minor children at the time of your death, your children will need a “guardian” (someone to take care of the minor children) and/or a “conservator” (someone to handle their financial affairs). Although these roles may be filled by the same person or people, it is not mandatory to do so. YOU want to pick the people that YOU believe will do the best job. Your Will should also identify a back up guardian and conservator just in case your first choice is unavailable.
Although having a Will is better than not having one, it is a mistake to think that a Will provides for your future security and that of your loved ones. A Will does not protect you in the event you suffer a lifetime disability. A Will only becomes effective upon our death, and is given life by the Probate Court. That means probate is GUARANTEED! Probate can also be a very expensive and time consuming process. Furthermore, everything that happens in probate is a matter of public record. This means that just EVERYONE has access to your information.