Your Will controls the distribution of your real and personal property on your death. This includes your home, land, mineral rights, and any other form of real property, as well as your cash equivalent assets: stocks, bonds, CDs, and mutual funds not held in a retirement account.

But the easist way to determine what property a Will covers is to determine what it doesn’t cover.

Personal Property: Often, property including cars, jewelry, clothes, furniture, etc., will be covered by an ancillary document called a “letter of last instruction” or “letter of instruction.” Alternatively, personal property can be assigned to a revocable living trust in a writing called an “assignment.” If neither of these exist, your personal property will be covered by your Will.

Assets with Named Beneficiaries: When you sign up for some products, like insurance, pension plans, IRAs, etc, you’re asked to name a beneficiary for that policy. Because there is a named beneficiary, the account holder will pay out directly to that beneficiary on your death, thus avoiding the Will (and potential Probate).

Assets in most Trusts: If you have assets held as trustee for a Trust beneficary, such as in an Irrevocable Trust or a Revocable Living Trust, then the assets will distribute in accordance with trust instructions, and will not be covered by the will.

Assets in Joint Tenancy: If you own an asset in Joint Tenancy, every joint tenant owns 100% of that asset. When you die, your name will be stricken as an owner but the others will remain.