The majority of American's die today with no will, trust or estate plan whatsoever. The absence of a valid estate plan means the state will decide how to distribute your estate, and it may not be the desired result that you were intending.
An estate plan is essentially a written plan for the disposition of your assets at death. A well drafted plan can avoid the costs and delays of probate and minimize or eliminate estate taxes, thereby providing the maximum amount of your estate to your loved ones. It can even allow you to control the amount and timing of distributions years after your death, or to provide for the special needs of minor children or those who would have trouble managing assets on their own.
Estate planning involves an overall integration of your personal and real property and how it should be handled both during your lifetime and after your death. It should include your choices concerning health care decisions in the event that you become unable to make those decisions for yourself.