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A will or testament is a legal declaration which allows you to decide who will receive your assets upon death.  A will allows you to name one or more persons to manage your estate upon death and provides for the distribution of your property.  Many people believe that they can avoid probate by creating a will, however, in California, that is not the case.  Further, the person you designate as executor has no authority over your estate during your lifetime, and has no authority to manage your assets upon death until he or she has been appointed to act by the appropriate probate court.  Absent a will or other testamentary instrument, however, your estate would pass “intestate,” meaning certain relatives designated by state law would inherit your estate.  A will, whether it be a stand alone document or a companion to your living trust, is a necessary component of all estate plans.