A will is a legal document in which you name a personal representative to handle your estate and list guidelines as to how, where and to whom you want your property distributed after your death.
If you die without leaving a will (called INTESTATE), your home, money, and other property will be distributed according to a formula fixed by law. The intestate law is the same for everybody. It does not and cannot take into consideration the special needs of any individual or family. As a result, your property may be inherited by people you do not want to share in your estate. Only you can provide for the disposition of your property by leaving a valid will at your death.
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When an individual dies, it is often necessary to follow formal procedures in settling the estate. This process is called estate administration. Both state and federal law establish certain requirements which must be followed.
The word estate is used to describe the property and obligations of a person who has died. Administration includes procedures and requirements relating to collecting of assets, satisfying of obligations such as debts, expenses and taxes, and distributing property to their heirs and beneficiaries.
In almost every case when a person dies having personal property or real estate, an estate should be administered.
As a practical matter, it is very difficult for a non-lawyer to correctly follow the required procedures in administering an estate without the assistance of an attorney.