What is the purpose of a Will in estate planning?

The Will is one of the most fundamental estate planning documents. The Will's main function is to provide instructions on how you want your assets distributed at the time of your death.

The current trend in California is to use revocable living trusts; however, the Will is still useful for individuals who have relatively small estates that would avoid probate administration anyway. Even for those who utilize the revocable living trust, a so-called "pourover" Will is prepared to ensure assets that were not re-titled in the name of the trust during the deceased person's life get transferred to the trust after his or her death.

A Will may also be used for other purposes. For example:

  1. Nominate guardian(s) to care for minor children.
  2. Funeral or burial instructions.
  3. Specify Powers of Appointment.

The nice part about a Will is that it is relatively low-cost to create. In fact, the State Bar of California even has a free statutory Will form that you can use.