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A will - or a "last will and testament" - is a legal document that tells the probate court how you want your property distributed after you die and who has the power and responsibility to wrap up your affairs.  Through the probate process, the court gives the "executor" of your will the authority to gather all of your property, pay any remaining creditors' bills, and distribute your property as specified in your will.  Because the will takes effect only after a court determines that it is a valid document, a judge must act before your executor can step in and manage your estate.

Even if you have a trust-based estate plan, you still have a will, called a "pourover will".  Generally, your revocable trust will be the beneficiary in this pourover will.