Seven Things a Will Can Do

A last will and testament is a legal document that lets you decide what happens with your estate after you die. When you die without a will, you leave important decisions up to a local court and your state’s laws. You won’t have a say in who receives your property and other assets. This post is Part 1 of a 2-part series. This one tells you what a will can do; part 2 will cover what a will can’t do.

A will …

  1. … saves you and your family time, money, and stress by streamlining the probate process and letting you choose the person you want to manage your estate. The “executor” will be in charge of wrapping up all your affairs. His or her responsibilities may include everything from closing bank accounts to liquidating assets.
  2. . … lets you choose who will take care of your minor children. You can use your will to nominate a guardian. The surviving parent will usually get sole legal custody if one parent dies. But if both parents die, a guardian becomes responsible for all your children’s daily needs, including food, housing, health care, education, and clothing.
  3. … specifies who will take care of your pets and where they will live after you die. The law considers pets to be property, so you can’t leave any assets to your pet but you can name a beneficiary for your pet, leaving them to a trusted friend or family member.
  4. … leaves instructions for your digital assets, which may include online accounts, such as Facebook or email, and digital files or property (photos, videos, domain names, etc.). you can name a digital executor to manage these assets after you pass, as well as leave them to specific people and include information on how you want them handled.
  5. … lowers or prevents the potential for family arguments. When you die without a will, your family will have to guess at what your final wishes were, and chances are, they won’t always agree. This ambiguity can create friction, and even fights, which sometimes lasts a lifetime. a will solves the problem by eliminating the guesswork.
  6. … lets you support your favorite causes and leave a legacy. Many people want to leave a positive impact on the world after they pass. And a great way to do this is to support the charities or causes you love most.
  7. … can contain funeral instructions, which—while they aren’t legally binding—can give family members an easy map to follow when you pass away.

(For much more information, check out this website: