There are two ways in which a person's wealth can be transferred at death: (1) by probate proceedings and (2) by use of will substitutes. Both methods of transfer are controlled by state law. While each state's laws may differ in detail, the statutes are all designed to meet common concerns. The primary concern is to transfer the decedent's wealth to other persons or entities in an orderly manner. Additional concerns include:

About the Author

David Mannaioni, CFP®, MPASSM is a professor at the College for Financial Planning. Utilizing his 30+ years of experience in the financial services industry, David also maintains a financial planning practice where he works with his clients in all areas of financial planning. In addition to his certifications, David holds life and health insurance licenses in several states, as well as the Series 6, Series 7, and Series 63 registrations with FINRA. You can contact David at

Complexity Level: Overview