I have posted before about the importance of naming an alternate beneficiary on your life insurance policies, so that the proceeds can be distributed to someone else in the event that the primary beneficiary predeceases you. However, it is likewise important to name alternate beneficiaries in your Will.
For example, if you have one child, and you leave everything to that one child, what if he or she predeceases you? Where do you want the funds to go then? Did you mean for them to go to your grandchildren? Or you have multiple children and one predeceases you. Did you want their share to go to their siblings or their children? Or, perhaps you wanted the funds to to go to your daughter-in-law who took such good care of you. Without specifying so, the money would not go to her, but rather to your next closest relative who may be someone you have never met, or do not even like. Or maybe you would like your college, or a certain charity to be the contingent beneficiary. Maybe the person who would inherit the funds by operation of law is a spendthrift, or addict, or has special needs and the money would be better protected in a Trust.
Unfortunately, you will not be around to explain what you wanted, and the statutes which dictate how the funds will pass without your direction will not necessarily match your wishes. When thinking about your Will, you must always think "What if this person passed away before me, where would I want their share to go?" Then talk about it with your attorney, who will help you make sure that all contingencies are covered.