Most people should have a will, but it’s rarely the most significant estate planning document an individual holds.
Many of a typical household’s assets, such as retirement accounts, can be transferred outside of a will by naming beneficiaries, and documents such as the financial and medical powers of attorney can be more powerful in determining the outcome of an estate.
Still, having a poorly written or out-of-date will can be costly and derail an otherwise well-planned estate. Wills are also particularly important for individuals with dependent children; the will serves as the best means to name guardians for children in the event of the death of both parents.
Experts typically advise individuals to get the basic estate planning documents in order around the time they are married or buy a home, for example, and revisit the will regularly with special emphasis on this process around the time of retirement.