Promises or wishes regarding your property that you have expressed verbally during your lifetime have no legal effect after you have died. In order for your wishes to be carried out, they must be written down in a Will. By naming a “personal representative” (also called an executor), you can be sure that there will be someone to handle your affairs.
If you die without a Will, any special gift you wanted to make to family members, friends, or charities will not be honored. When there is no Will, the court will divide your estate property between your heirs according to the laws of intestacy, which typically means that your property will be distributed to your spouse and children. For a more detailed explanation of these intestacy rules, please review Section III of this presentation.
In addition to specifying how your property will be distributed, your Will can nominate a person to serve as the personal representative of your estate or the guardian for your children should you die before they reach age 18 and the other parent is unable or unwilling to care for them. Your Will is also the appropriate place to direct how you wish your final remains to be handled (i.e. cremation or burial) and whether you wish any special religious or traditional services.