Your will or the will of state

  • Published
  • By Capt. Brian T. Fischenich
  • Electronic Systems Center Legal Office
It can make a big difference to your loved ones. 

Did you know, from a practical point of view, everyone has a will? The difference between someone who has a properly executed, valid will and someone who does not is that the one who has executed a will dictates how his assets are distributed upon his passing, whereas the state dictates how assets are distributed upon the death of someone who does not have a will. 

When an individual has a will drafted, she is able to dictate exactly how items in her estate will be distributed. For example, an individual can designate a certain person to be the recipient of specific item of monetary and/or sentimental value or set aside a certain sum of money to be paid to specific person or charity. In a will, a person may also establish a guardian and/or trust to allow for the continued care of minor children and select a specific person to care for and distribute the assets of the estate upon the death of the individual. 

Without a valid will, the state provides very general guidelines merely dictating who is to receive what percentage of the estate without any regard to whether the distribution conforms to the wishes of the individual who has passed. In addition, without the specificity that is contained in a will document, family members are left guessing as to how specific items of an estate should be distributed. This often leads to anxiety and conflict among family and friends of the individual who has passed at a time when they need support from one another. This illustrates the primary benefit of having a will--knowing that if something happens, family and friends will have one less thing to worry about and one less thing to create more stress and anxiety. When deployments arise, which do so often these days, the last thing anyone should be distracted with is how family members and friends will deal with their possession if something happens during the deployment. This is why members of the military are strongly encouraged to execute a will before leaving for deployment. 

The Electronic Systems Center Legal Office, located on the second floor of the Brown Building, building 1305, can prepare a will for you free of charge. If you would like a will please stop by the legal office to pick up a will worksheet. Once the worksheet is complete, you may drop it off at or email it to the legal office and schedule an appointment to consult an attorney with any questions you have and execute the finalized will.