You should have a will to ensure that your property, money, prized possessions or any other items of value are left to whom you would want to have them after you are gone. Contrary to belief, wills are not just for the rich. Anyone with something of value should consider drawing up a will, if for no other reason than to prevent the inevitable bickering over your estate when you’re gone. With the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, you can easily draw up a will that will keep everything in order after you are gone.

Should you die without a will, state probate laws distribute your property in a manner that it would be distributed if you had a will. What does this mean exactly? For example, if you are married but separated from your estranged husband and you die without a will requesting your estate be bequeathed to a designated beneficiary, your estate will to your estranged husband–which would be last thing you would want if your separation wasn’t an amicable one. If you are single with no children and you die without a will, your living parents would get your estate. If both of your parents are deceased, your estate would go to your siblings. If your siblings are deceased, your nieces and nephews would inherit your estate.

A circumstance where is a will is vital when you are the guardian of a special needs child or have children whom you feel are too young or otherwise incapable of handling a significant lump sum inheritance. You can draw up a testamentary trust, which is created by your will upon your death, where the inheritance is kept until a child reaches a certain age. In the case of a special needs child, the testamentary trust can serve as a means of financial support.

You can write your own will and sign it, but it will only be a signed piece of paper. In order for a will to be a valid legal documents, it must witnessed and notarized. In addition, you should enlist the aid of an estate planning attorney to explain the legalities and walk you through the process.