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Spring Cleaning: Estate Planning

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Michael Jackson's Last Will, Estate Planning

(credit: Photo by MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

420x316-grad-lee Dee Lee
Dee Lee is a Certified Financial Planner who received a diploma in...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Everyone wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die to get there!

We are on a roll. It’s time to review your estate planning. How long ago was it that you did your estate planning? Have you even done any estate planning? Over 50% of our listeners are going around naked, unprotected. They’ve not done any estate planning.

If you haven’t done anything, think about starting with a simple plan. I hear such excuses as “we don’t have enough money to warrant a will”. “We own everything jointly so we don’t need a will.”

Do you have kids? Who would you want to care for your kids? Do you have stuff you want to go to friends or family?

An estate plan helps to distribute your assets upon your death and it can do more. If you have kids you can name a guardian who will take care of your children if both you and your spouse should die. All you may need is a simple will, but if your life and finances are complicated then your estate planning should also be complicated.

And if you did do some estate planning a long time ago, find those documents and review them. Both the Federal and Massachusetts estate tax laws have changed so you probably need to update your documents because of the new laws. You want to review your estate planning documents when there are any major life changes, such as a marriage, birth, death, divorce or a move to another state.

Your estate planning, whether it be simple or complicated, should include a Durable Power of Attorney. A power of attorney is used while you are alive. It allows you to choose someone, your attorney in fact, to act on your behalf legally or financially when you are unable to. This document is very powerful for someone could have access to your money and assets.

The next document you should be considering is a Health Care Proxy. This is Massachusetts’ version of a medical directive. This also is a powerful document and you should choose wisely who you ask to take on the job of being your proxy. Here you choose someone to make medical decisions for you if you are incapable of making those decisions.

Log onto www.healthcareproxy.org, which is on the Massachusetts Medical Society’s webpage and you can download a copy of the Massachusetts Health Care Proxy form. You will need to have two people witness your signature for it to be a legal document. But that’s easy to do, ask your next door neighbors.

Keep copies of your legal documents accessible and a copy should be at your attorney’s office in a safe and secure place.

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