A Will is a legal document which helps you to put your affairs in order at the time of your death; it allows you to express your intentions regarding your estate (your home, money and other assets). Your Will identifies who will handle your estate (your "executor"), to whom your assets will be distributed (your "beneficiaries") and who will serve as guardian of your minor children. If you have a potential beneficiary who has special needs (such as a disabled child), your Will can contain instructions to your executor to make sure such a beneficiary is taken care of according to your wishes. If you die without a Will, your estate will be distributed according to a formula established by state law. Your spouse may have to share your estate with other family members. A court may name a guardian of your minor children whom you would not have approved of. The state's formula does not take the special needs of any beneficiary into account.
Wills can be simple or complex; they will differ for single individuals and married couples, for people with minor children and for people with no children, for people who have a taxable estate and those who do not have a taxable estate. A variety of techniques are available for use in a Will to minimize or eliminate estate taxes.