The most popular estate planning document is a Will. In your Will, you may direct the manner in which your property will pass at the time of your death. Property which passes under your Will is subject to the jurisdiction of the Probate Court. If you do not have a Will, the state's laws of intestacy will determine the distribution of your property.
A Will may do more than pass property. In your Will, you may nominate a Guardian of your minor children. You may also name a Custodian to hold the assets passing to your minor children. You will nominate an Executor, who, upon appointment by the Probate Court, will become your legal representative. Your Executor will be responsible for gathering your assets, paying your debts, filing income tax returns on your behalf, and distributing your property according to the terms of your Will. In your Will, you express your wishes about whether your estate or certain beneficiaries will be responsible for the payment of any taxes that might be imposed as a result of your death.