LAST WILL & TESTAMENT
An estate plan usually includes a last will and testament, more commonly known as a will, which details your wishes for the assets that you own at your passing. It allows you to name the people you'd like to leave something to upon your death.
You can use a will to:
Leave your property to people or organizations
Name a specific guardian you wish to care for your minor children
Name a trusted person you desire to manage any property you leave to minor children, and
Name an executor, who is the person or people who make sure that the terms of your will are carried out.
In most states, if you die without a will, your assets follow a process called probate, in which the state determines how your assets are distributed according to state "intestacy" laws. Texas's intestacy law, for example, gives your property to your closest relatives, beginning with your spouse and children. If you don’t have a spouse or children, your grandchildren or your parents will get your property. The list goes on with increasingly distant relatives, including siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews. If the court exhausts the list to find that you have no living relatives by blood or marriage, the state will take your property.
A will allows you to have your assets distributed how you desire through the probate process, rather than through "intestacy" laws. If you are married or have assets, you should draw up a will. Few people plan to die, but if you die suddenly without a will, you will inadvertently subject your family and loved ones to unnecessary confusion and anxiety at what is already a difficult time.
Even if you do not have a lot of money, a will ensures your wishes are heard. It states that whatever personal belongings and assets you have will go to whoever you name or designate. If you own a business, a will can help ensure a smooth legal transition of those assets as well.
Anyone who has a child should create a will and establish a chain of legal guardianship for the child if something were to happen to both parents. Additionally, any time you have a significant life change, such as getting married or divorce, you should assess your will and update accordingly.