A Last Will & Testament is a legal document that is a basic building block to your estate plan. A Last Will and any amendments (codicils) to it must be signed in accordance with very specific legal requirements. You must be sure you have complied with these requirements or the document may be null and void. Your Last Will & Testament will take on significantly different roles depending upon whether or not you have a Revocable Trust.
If you do not choose to use a Trust, your Last Will provides all of the essential details of who will get your estate after you die. Your Last Will also sets forth who will handle your financial affairs after you die (i.e., your executor or personal representative); and, if you have minor children, who will serve as the guardian for your children until they become adults. Having a Last Will does not avoid probate. A Will is basically an instruction to the probate court regarding your final wishes for your property.
If you have a Trust, you still need a Last Will if you have minor children since you may only nominate a guardian for your children in a properly drafted and signed Last Will. Also, even if you have a Trust, you need a Last Will just in case all your assets are not properly funded into your Trust. A Last Will that works in conjunction with a Revocable Living Trust is often called a Pour Over Will and basically functions to ensure your property ends up in your Trust to be handled accordingly.
Whether you need a simple Will or a Pour Over Will and Trust, you must be sure that all the factors for your particular economic and family circumstances are being considered. Since the Last Will is a basic building block of any estate plan, you want to be sure that it has been properly prepared and executed.