Your Will, or, more formally, your Last Will and Testament, is the legal document in which you direct how and to whom your property, both real and personal, will be distributed after your death.
In your Will, you name a personal representative (often referred to as an Executor) who will be responsible for handling the probate administration of your estate in accordance with your stated wishes.
If you have minor children, your Will is where you appoint legal guardians and/or trustees for any of your children who are minors at the time of your death. The legal guardian is the person you choose to be responsible for the raising of your children and the trustee will be responsible for the management and distribution of the estate assets you have left to your minor children.
If you have a trust, you still should have a pour-over Will, which puts your probate assets into the trust to be distributed according to the terms of the trust.
Why you need a Will
If you die without a Will, Connecticut law determines who gets your assets. Connecticut’s intestacy statute (the law which sets out who gets what) does not and cannot take into consideration your specific wishes or the particular individual needs of your family members. As a result, your assets may be distributed to someone you do not intend to share in your estate. You have the power to decide to whom, when and how you want your estate to be distributed after your death. Without a Will, you let the state decide that. You owe it to your loved ones to take this simple step to express your wishes.
FAQ: If I have a Will, does that keep my estate out of probate?
Actually, No. Having a simple Will alone ensures that your estate will be involved in the probate process. A Will is literally an instruction to the Probate Court requesting that the court make sure that your estate taxes and expenses are paid and that remainder of the estate is distributed in the manner you describe in the Will. If you want to avoid probate, we should talk about a Revocable Living Trust.