Although every estate plan is technically unique and designed to fit your specific needs, there are some documents that appear in most plans. Below is a quick overview of what those are. Should you include these common estate planning documents in your own estate plan?


A will allows you to list desired beneficiaries for your assets and who should care for your children. Without it, courts will designate heirs based on intestate succession laws and guardians based on information available to them. Although it sounds like a straight forward document, an improperly created will is much like having no will at all. The best way to ensure your wishes are honored and disputes among family members is to have a will formally prepared by a Massachusetts estate planning attorney.

Healthcare Proxy

A healthcare proxy allows someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself due to incapacitation or disability. By making it clear who has this power, it can avoid disputes among family members and delays in medical care. The person you select need not be a relative, but it should be someone familiar with your preferences regarding life saving measures.

Power of Attorney

Financials are another important consideration. If you are incapacitated or disabled, who will manage your financial affairs? This may include paying your mortgage, rent, utilities and other bills. By assigning power of attorney ahead of time, the person of your choosing can instantly step in when needed. Again, be sure to select someone that you thoroughly trust. Additionally, it may be best to select someone who is not also your healthcare proxy.


Another of the most common estate planning documents are trusts. There are many types of trusts, each with different goals and benefits. Many people use trusts to avoid a lengthy and expensive court probate process. Trusts can also enable more detailed instructions on how your assets should be managed and disbursed. Selecting the right type(s) of trusts is key to achieving your intended outcomes.

What Common Estate Planning Documents Do You Need?

So, which of these common estate planning documents will you need? It truly depends on your personal requirements and goals. The plan for a single person will vary from that of a married couple with children, a divorced person, or someone with children from previous marriages.

Additionally, special circumstances such as providing for long-term care of a disabled dependent, minimizing estate taxes, gifting strategies, and anonymity must be taken into consideration. Every estate plan is unique to the individual and must be reviewed and changed as one’s life circumstances change. If you’re interested in creating an estate plan, contact our team to schedule a free consultation.