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A will is a legal declaration that clarifies how you want your assets, property, personal belongings, money, and valuables distributed after your death. If a person dies without a will, he or she is said to have died “intestate,” and state law will determine how and to whom the person’s assets will be distributed.


A will is just one part of an estate plan. Your will allows you to name a trusted person as your executor or administrator of your estate and as a guardian (care

provider) for your minor children. It also allows you to delineate the type, place, and expense of your burial or cremation. Such details ease the strain on your family at a time when they need it the most.


Here are some things you should know about wills:


  •  A will is not implemented until you die, and it does not help you manage your affairs if you

     become incapacitated.

  •  A will does not help an estate avoid probate (the court proceeding to prove the will valid and

     implement the will).

  •  Documents filed in probate proceedings are publicly available court document.  




A pour over will is used in conjunction with a trust -- it serves to ensure that property not titled in the name of the trust "pours over" into your trust so it can be distributed according to your wishes. By way of example, some people intentionally or inadvertently leave certain property, valuables, or possessions out of their trust. These properties could be things like vehicles, a rare book, jewelry, a work of art, or other personal belongings. The reasons for leaving them out of the trust could be simple forgetfulness, for tax purposes, or for any other reason. The pour over will directs that any assets not in the trust during a person's life "pour over," or go into the trust when he or she dies. These assets then are distributed as part of the deceased person's estate according to his instructions in the trust instead of under state law.

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