A legal document which conveys the final wishes of a decedent for the administration and distribution of an estate after death.


If a person neglects to leave a will, or if the will is declared invalid, the person will have died intestate, resulting in the distribution of the estate according to the laws of intestacy in the state in which the person resided.  This may result in the estate being inherited by people who, although blood relatives, might be people the testator dislikes or with whom he is unacquainted.  Therefore it is advised that everyone have a will or a will substitute.

Assets without listed beneficiaries pass in the probate estate,  meaning that they are distributed according to the language in the will.  As such, they are subject to probate fees, the amount of which vary considerably from state to state.   To avoid the costs and delays of probate,  assets may be titled in a trust.