Wills probably do more than you expected. For example:

  • They let you designate who will inherit which of your assets.
  • They let 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.)
  • They let you specify when your children will receive what. This is to prevent your 18-year-old grandson from receiving his entire inheritance before he's mature enough to keep from spending it all on stereos and cars.
  • They let you save money by waiving the probate bond, which will otherwise be required.
  • They 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.
  • They can permit your business to continue operating.
  • They can save you some money in taxes.

Learn more about estate planning at this useful (but not entirely unbiased) website: Estate Planning Links. Also, check out our previous pieces on how much funerals cost, what a will can do, and how to plan your will.

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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.