|Thanks Gwendal Uguen, for Creative Commons use of your pic!|
Anyway, I thought I'd start out the new year by trying something new. Every so often, I'll take a commonly held myth, and bust it. For the first such post, I'll bust this myth: Wills solve everything.
Every once and awhile, I'll get a variation on that myth such as, "But, he died without a will! What will we do?" Or, "The bank won't let me take out the account, because she didn't have a will!" Or, "I won't have a probate, I have a will. I'm good."
Wills are good (obviously, or I'd be ethically in trouble for doing them). They have a few particular purposes; purposes that can be super important for a lot of people. They can appoint guardians for your children, allocate your probate assets to the exact people you want and have the exact people you want control and distribute your estate. Some of the things they won't do is effect how non-probate assets, like life insurance that lists individual recipients and other things that transfer without court action, are distributed. It also won't in and of itself prove authority for someone to act on your estate's behalf.
If you don't have a will, but have probate assets to distribute, state law will fills in who has the authority to manage your estate and who gets it. These estates are called "intestate", Latin for "no will".
The will doesn't prevent a probate process. It tells the court what you want to have happen if a probate action is needed. Myth busted.