FOOL'S SCHOOL DAILY Q&A

What a Will Can Do

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By Selena Maranjian (TMF Selena)
October 1, 2002

Q. What does a will really do?

A. It probably does more than you think. For example:

  • It lets you designate who will inherit which of your assets.

  • It lets you name a guardian for your children and an executor of your estate. (The executor can be an individual you know or a trust company.)

  • It lets you specify when your children will receive what. Otherwise, an 18-year-old may end up receiving his entire inheritance before he's mature enough to not spend it all on stereos and cars.

  • It lets you save money by waiving the probate bond, which will otherwise be required.

  • It can let you authorize the sale of some of your assets during probate administration. This can be important, because sometimes such a sale is necessary to raise money needed to pay taxes and expenses related to death.

  • It can permit your business to continue operating.

  • It can save you some money in taxes.

Do you have a will prepared? If not, add it to your to-do list! Learn more about estate planning at Nolo.com and Estate Planning Links and on our Estate Planning discussion board. Also, check out our previous "Ask the Fool" columns on how much funerals cost and how to plan your will.

If you have any questions, thoughts or opinions on this column, share them with others on our Ask the Fool discussion board.

This question and answer is adapted from The Motley Fool Money Guide: Answers to Your Questions About Saving, Spending and Investing. For answers to this and 499 other common money questions, check it out -- it's a handy resource.