- legally appoint guardians for your minor children (without making some of the most common mistakes even loving parents make that could leave their children legally and financially vulnerable – sign up over there on the left or via this link here to learn more in easy bite-sized pieces)
- legally appoint the people you want to express your wishes, speak on your behalf, and make medical decisions for you in the event of your incapacity to do so yourself during your lifetime and even after your death (BTW, did anyone else see that “Marionette” episode of Fringe!?! I won’t spoil it here.)
- legally empower someone you trust implicitly to become familiar with and manage any or all of your financial affairs if you should ever be unavailable or become unable to do so during your lifetime
- legally designate the specific people to whom you want to leave whatever you may have whenever you die, when and how and for what purposes you want them to receive it
- legally designate the person you want to be responsible for wrapping up all your final affairs and overseeing the sale or distribution of everything you own at your death to the people you’ve designated to receive it
- defer (until after the surviving spouse in a couple dies), reduce, or eliminate Massachusetts state estate taxes – that exemption amount remains at $1 million, which may sounds like a lot but talk with your estate planning attorney about whether you may have a taxable estate, you may be surprised at what you learn
Unless you are single or in a heterosexual legal marriage, own few worldly possessions, have few assets, and do not have minor children, I strongly advise you to at least talk with a lawyer who practices in the field of estate planning before you attempt any online or form Wills and other estate planning documents to avoid the often tragic and unnecessary unintended consequences we too often see. The most recent high profile example that comes to my mind is Steig Larsson, author of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and its sequels.