A last will and testament is the main way many people pass on their estate to loved ones. In your case, you may wish to avoid probate for at least some of your assets. By setting up your assets so they pass on to specific beneficiaries after your death, you can bypass probate, provided you title your assets correctly.
Mistakes in titling can thwart your estate plans, so you may want to look over your asset titles and consult with a legal professional to assure yourself that you have done everything right. Forbes describes some scenarios in which incorrect titling can be a problem.
You might believe that your home will go directly to your spouse after you die because of your home title. Remember that how you title your real estate will determine where it goes. You may title your home to go to a spouse through a joint ownership arrangement, but errant or incorrect wording may direct your property to your estate after you die, which will place your property under the authority of your executor.
By using a trust, you may convey assets to whoever you want without having to use a will. If you create a trust, make certain that you have titled your assets so they belong to the trust. If you do not, the trust will remain empty and your assets will pass to heirs through your will or through state intestate laws.
You can name a child, a spouse or whoever you wish as a beneficiary on your life insurance policy. After your death, the policy will directly pay out to your beneficiaries. However, if you name your estate as a beneficiary on your insurance, your will shall control what happens to your insurance proceeds. You may encounter similar issues with your retirement accounts like your 401(k) and IRA.