Many people think of a last will and testament when they think about estate planning. However, an estate plan can involve much more than the distribution of your assets. An estate plan can involve several different documents, which each serve a different purpose. Almost everyone should have an estate plan because almost everyone could benefit from at least one of the documents that an estate plan can include.

If you put the right estate planning documents to use, you could:

  • Plan for your needs in case you become incapacitated
  • Name guardians for minor children
  • Minimize the time your estate spends in probate
  • Protect family wealth
  • Support a beloved charity
  • Determine who will receive which assets and under what circumstances they will receive them

Some estate planning documents to consider

The right estate documents for you will depend entirely on your situation. However, some documents to consider include a will, a trust and a health care proxy.

A will can allow you to list who you want to receive your money, property and possessions when you die. It can also allow you to name guardians for minor children and shorten the time your estate spends in probate.

A trust is another way you can transfer your assets to your loved ones. Unlike a will, trusts are not typically part of public record. They can also allow you more control than a will does over the circumstances in which your loved ones will receive your assets. However, sometimes people who utilize a trust must still have a will.

In Massachusetts, a health care proxy allows you to choose someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make those decisions for yourself. This person is called your agent, and having an agent can help ensure you receive only the types of medical treatment you want to receive.

There are many benefits to creating a personalized estate plan. However, it is important to remember that any good estate plan should be reviewed and updated throughout your lifetime to make sure it always reflects your current wishes and situation.