There is only one sure way to be sure that your wishes are carried out exactly as you intended after you die. That means you need a comprehensive estate plan. With an estate plan, you can make all of the decisions yourself and appoint the people you trust to handle your affairs. You can make sure your assets go to the loved ones you want to have them. If you have a business, an estate plan is the only way you can have a say as to how it's run after you’re gone. With careful planning, you can make sure your legacy is carried on in a way that you want and that the right people handle it.
With the right estate plan, you can make sure a charity you care about receives the help you want it to have. You can pay for a child's or grandchild's education or even their wedding. You can make sure a possession you cherish goes to someone who will care for it the way you would. With an estate plan, you can direct your assets to go where you want and where they will do the most good.
Without a solid estate plan, you are leaving your legacy to chance. Those who die without at least a simple will are considered "intestate," which means that a local court will distribute all of your assets according to a formula set up by the state legislature. Also, they will name an executor to administer your estate, which could be someone you don’t know or trust. That often means your next-of-kin gets everything, whether that meets with your wishes or not. For example, if you have been married before and you have children from the first marriage, you will have to trust that your current wife will take care of them if your current wife turns out to be your next-of-kin.