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Estate planning documents include more than just a will

There is one thing people can do before they pass on to make things easier on their loved ones. No Massachusetts resident likes to think about his or her own demise, but taking some time out to work on estate planning documents may provide some comfort in knowing family members won't be saddled with the task of sorting through personal and financial effects. There is much more to an estate plan that a will.

There are some must-have documents that should be included in an estate plan; otherwise, a testator's loved ones could run into problems. Without the proper documents, things might end up in probate court, which could mean assets being distributed in a way a testator would not have wanted them to be. The integral documents include: a will and possibly a trust, a durable power of attorney, a letter of intent, a health care power of attorney and guardianship designations, if warranted.

Many people are probably familiar with most of these documents, but some may not understand a letter of intent. This is left to an executor or beneficiary stating what should be done with specific assets. It could also include wishes regarding a funeral or other things a testator would like to be known. Powers of attorney give other individuals the legal ability to make decisions on behalf of a testator should he or she be unable to do so.

There is much more to estate planning than writing a will and filing it away in a drawer. A Massachusetts attorney can sit with a client and help him or her to fashion an estate plan that meets his or her own individual needs. Doing so many give a testator and his or her family members the peace of mind they deserve.  

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