The base of any plan has to be a Last Will and Testament. Even if a husband and wife have their assets in joint and survivorship form, provisions should be established to direct the distribution of assets after the death of the surviving spouse. And of course, there may be some items that won't be transferred to heirs any other way. A Will can also go a long way to reduce hassles by specifically designating recipients of SPECIAL property, such as collections or heirlooms.
A prime reason for having a Will is to state your choice of a guardian for your minor children. In order to ensure that your children are raised in the type of home and religious environment that you would raise them in if you were alive, it is important that your choice of a guardian is known. A Will is the most appropriate place for you to make your choice of guardian known to the Probate Court.
Your will should also designate your choice of an executor. You can then have some confidence that your estate will be handled properly and effectively, and by a person whom you trust.
Finally, your Will should contain adequate powers to assist your executor in administering the estate. If your executor is competent and trustworthy, then broad powers can be given which may reduce the time and costs of administration, and the amount of effort otherwise required by the fiduciary to administer the estate. You may even ask the Probate Court to waive the executor's bond. If your executor is trustworthy, but not business-wise, then fewer powers may be more appropriate which would require that the executor obtain instructions or permission from the court before selling or disposing of any assets.