The basics of wills: Ensuring your wishes are carried out

A last will and testament is an essential estate planning tool

When you pass away, you leave many material things behind — “you can’t take it with you,” as the saying goes. That can include assets like real estate, cash, vehicles, jewelry and other valuables — and things of sentimental value, too.

Most people want to make sure their earthly possessions are passed along to loved ones. But unless you clearly communicate your wishes in legally binding estate planning documents like a last will and testament, your plans may not be carried out as you wanted.

Unfortunately, that includes a lot of Americans — just a little more than 30 percent of American adults have a will or some sort of an estate-planning document.1

While some 60 percent of survey respondents say they think estate planning is a very good thing,that sentiment doesn’t always turn into action — and many people don’t take the steps they need to, leaving their loved ones to play a guessing game.


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