Every year I make my annual pilgrimage to the store to buy my filing container for the next year’s legal and financial documentation. Every year I buy something too small, foolishly optimistic a paper fairy will come and reduce the required filing by miraculously erasing all the sensitive information these documents contain. I have often wondered how my husband would sort and interpret all of this information and doubted whether any bills would get paid in my absence. I’m sure many of you can relate. Recently, my husband and I have been going through our finances and legal forms, so he can easily navigate our finances should I leave this world in an untimely fashion. While this process has been tedious, I know it is necessary. I’ve seen a number of families enduring a medical crisis, only to find themselves in a legal and financial battle for their loved ones. Have you set your family up for success? It is quite literally never too early. Where do you start? There are several basic documents that indicate your wishes medically and financially, should you be unable to make decisions. In Wisconsin, those documents include Financial Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney, Living Will, and DNR/DNI. Wills, estate and trust planning are also critical, but are helpful after a loved one has passed. In many cases, a loved one is incapacitated before they pass and their family’s hands are tied if his or her instructions are not included in these documents. None of these forms require an attorney to assist you in their construction; however, an attorney would be able to walk you through them. The Living Will and DNR/DNI forms can be provided by your doctor. It is critical to discuss the decisions made in these forms with your family before implementation. Copies of completed forms should be given to your elected decision-makers and your doctor for your medical file. Your planning ensures your wishes are adhered to and will eliminate a potential mountain of discord between your loved ones.