Last Will & Testament
The Last Will and Testament is probably the most familiar of the estate planning documents. The most important function of the Will is to direct the distribution of a person’s assets upon their death. In addition, the Will identifies an executor to manage the estate after the death of the testator (the person making the Will).
The Will can do many other things as well, including establishing trusts for minors, directing gifts to charities, providing instructions for burial, directing the payment of expenses and taxes, establishing trusts for tax planning or to hold assets for minors or disabled beneficiaries. Critical to parents with minor children is that the Will allows a parent to identify a guardian of the person of their minor children (the person who raises their children) and a guardian of the estate of their minor children (the person who oversees their finances).
The Last Will and Testament is the essential document in the estate planning process, but other documents are equally important and in some circumstances, documents such as the Durable Power of Attorney may ultimately be more important in the estate planning process.