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A properly drafted will may provide for the following:
  1. Distribution under the rules of intestacy ("intestacy" refers to the that portion of the Probate Code that dictates who will receive a person's property when they die with no written plan).
  2. Permits the nomination of a Guardian of the estate and of the person for minor children (without such nomination, the court will appoint a guardian).
  3. Nominates an Executor. This avoids confusion (and sometimes legal entanglements) when more than one of your heirs believes they should be the one to administer your assets.
  4. Allows you to waive the probate bond for your Executor, which saves administrative expenses when you have an Executor your truly trust.
  5. Gives you the option to make specific bequests to individuals and/or charities.
  6. Can authorize "independent authority" so your Executor can sell assets with proper notice instead of petitioning the court for a hearing and incurring additional administrative expenses.
  7. Can provide options for minor beneficiaries such as a trust or transfers under the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act.
  8. Estate Tax savings are possible when you create testamentary trusts in your Will.
  9. Peace of mind.

Remember a will does not control the distribution of ALL of your assets. Examples include: (1) property held in joint tenancy; and (2) retirement accounts. Property held in joint tenancy bypasses the distribution scheme in your will and automatically passes upon your death to the surviving joint tenant(s). Likewise, retirement accounts pass outside of your will and go directly to the named beneficiaries.

This aspect of estate distribution is one of many reasons it is advisable to consult an attorney when creating a will. Your attorney will be able to assist you so that any assets not controlled by your will are coordinated with your distribution objectives.

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