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A will is a legal document that allows a person to ensure their final wishes are carried out. By completing a will, a person directs how to distribute personal property, real property, money, and particular items to the intended beneficiaries. A will also allows a person to choose trusted individuals to act as their personal representatives, who will take charge of the estate, wind it up, and distribute it according to stated wishes.

In the absence of a will, a person risks having their property distributed by a court-appointed stranger according to their state’s laws of intestacy or escheating to the state. This may result in a longer and more expensive administration process than a will would require, and the property may wind up being distributed against the deceased’s wishes. (Escheat is the forfeiture of all property to the state treasury if there are no heirs, descendants or named beneficiaries to take the property upon the death of the last known owner).

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