A will is an essential element of any estate plan. The will takes care of transferring only probate assets. This means that the will directs how assets that do not transfer automatically upon the owner's death should pass. Non-probate assets, however, transfer according to how they are titled. For instance, your life insurance policies and retirement accounts pass automatically to the beneficiaries you have designated upon your death. Additionally, if you hold assets jointly with your spouse or child, those assets pass automatically to the surviving joint owner upon your death. Some accounts and real estate can also be designated to automatically "transfer on death" to a beneficiary. Generally speaking, your will then catches and distributes all other assets through the probate process.
For more information on how titling your assets can impact your estate plan, check out this article in Daily Local News.