Moving Forward with Estate Planning When Your Spouse is Uncomfortable with It

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As one part of a married couple, perhaps you put off estate planning because you need your spouse in order for it to be effective. If that’s the case, a non-cooperative spouse who doesn’t want to think or talk about it can lead to gridlock. That doesn’t mean estate planning is something you should ignore entirely, though. It can place you in a difficult position to attempt to move forward with this process when your spouse simply doesn’t want to.

One of the best things things to keep in mind is the concept that continually reminding your spouse that the planning needs to be done probably won’t work. You might want to try the alternative route of showing them what can go wrong if you skip planning altogether. Unfortunately, there are plenty of stories of celebrity estate planning blunders, but you might also know family members struggling through probate after their loved one avoided planning, too. All of these can be used as a conversation opener.

If you already created documents decades or years ago and this is one of the reasons your spouse doesn’t want to get on board, use this as a chance to sit down and walk through how that estate planning scenario would work out. Under your current documents, what would happened to your minor children? Your assets? This may help trigger your spouse to reopen the conversation if it turns out that your previous plans just don’t measure up.

Finally, if you’re unable to spur action with these steps, it might be time to do as much as you can on your own. Start with an inventory of all the assets and go from there. A meeting with an estate planning lawyer in Massachusetts can help you figure out what’s necessary moving forward

Do You Need an Estate Planning Audit?

Couple going over financesDoes thinking about your original estate planning documents conjure up images of meeting in someone’s office a decade ago when you first got married or when you had a child? Or was it in the more recent past, but there are numerous changes you’ve undergone in your life and family since then? If either one of these situations describes you, it may be time for an estate planning audit.

Plenty of people fall victim to the myth that estate planning is a one-and-done scenario. They schedule a meeting with a lawyer, get the basic documents in line, store them safely, and then forget about it. Those initial steps to get your will, trusts, and powers of attorney documents in line are important nonetheless, but your estate planning can only work properly for you if it’s in line with your current needs, not your past ones.

One of the biggest benefits of setting up an estate planning audit with a Massachusetts lawyer is to learn whether or not all the tools and documents you have now carry out your wishes as they should. For example, if you have gotten divorced since your last meeting with an attorney, there’s a good chance your current documents award everything or give power to make decisions on your behalf to your former spouse. These documents may remain legally valid even with a divorce decree. It is your responsibility to change them at the appropriate time.

It’s easy to write off an estate planning audit as something you intend to get around to. The truth is that most people don’t anticipate a disabling life event that triggers a power of attorney. Even more people don’t want to think about their own mortality, making it easier to push estate planning to the back burner.

Passing away with inaccurate materials, however, can be even more troubling for your loved ones in the wake of coping with their grief over your loss. You can help to avoid this situation by setting up a meeting with an experienced Massachusetts estate planning lawyer today.

Multiple Reasons Why Your Estate Planning Needs a Lift This Year

Old-Fashioned Will And TestamentAs we quickly approach 2017, it is an excellent opportunity to review your existing estate planning documents and determine if  you have fallen short. Unfortunately, far too many people make simple mistakes that can end up turning into big problems down the road if they are not careful.

These simple mistakes often catch family members by surprise when a loved one unexpectedly passes away. This is because it is usually the family members dealing with the management of estate planning documents or probate in Massachusetts.

What follows are some of the most common mistakes made in the estate planning realm. These include:

  •      Wrongly titled or untitled assets. If you do choose to use a trust, you should follow through by having all assets titled in the name of the trust, otherwise your assets will actually be disposed of by your will.
  •      Leaving assets directly to beneficiaries. The inheritance that you intended to pass on to a beneficiary could be subject to an attack from a divorcing spouse, a creditor or other lawsuits. Make sure that you carefully consider other opportunities for shielding that asset.
  •      Not keeping your end-of-life planning or medical care planning up to date. Your desires regarding your medical care should always be clearly articulated on a regular basis including your living will and your healthcare documents.  Setting up a meeting with an experienced estate planning lawyer can help you accomplish these goals.

Key Tips to Help Maximize the Value of Parental Assets as They Age

House on pile of moneyThere may come a time when your parents turn to you as the adult child and request your assistance in helping them put together their estate plan or manage their assets appropriately.

This is a worthwhile concern as you or other beneficiaries may stand to benefit from all opportunities to minimize tax obligations and maximize the value of assets. Furthermore, you are doing a good deed by helping your parents stay organized and understand how various state and federal laws affect them.

  • There are several different tax saving strategies that you can implement in order to maximize the value of their assets. These include:
  • Encouraging them to keep stocks that have gains and selling stocks that have losses.
  • Using trusts to protect assets and avoid the probate process.
  • Evaluating their estate planning documents on a regular basis to ensure they are still valid and accurate for your parents’ needs.
  • Encourage your parents to take advantage of gift taxes. Each individual in the U.S. is allowed to give up to $14,000 per year to other people. If your parents have an estate large enough to be subjected to the estate tax, then minimizing their tax liability by giving things away while they are still alive can benefit them.
  • Consider situations in which you may be eligible to claim your parents as dependents if they qualify.

Consulting with a dedicated estate planning attorney in Massachusetts can help you accomplish the vast majority of goals associated with your needs and their concerns.

                                                                                                                              

Set Aside Some Time at Thanksgiving Dinner to Talk About Estate Plans

Roasted whole chicken with Christmas decoration. Wooden background. Top view.Most people getting together with their family for the holiday this next week will enjoy sitting around the table and discussing what has happened in the previous year.

As you approach putting together your holiday newsletter as well, this is a good opportunity to reflect back and think about whether or not your current estate planning documents are in line with your individual needs.

Most families are peaceful enough and enjoy being together enough that discussing these options over Thanksgiving dinner is a great opportunity to introduce long term financial goals and plans. Plus, you can think back over any changes in the recent year that might ultimately alter your estate plans.

It is estimated that 93 million American estates will be transferred to someone else between 2007 and 2061. An approximate $59 trillion will be transferred in those estates. Without proper planning, this could create confusion or even conflicts among loved ones.

If you don’t know where your estate planning documents are kept, however, or if you haven’t updated them recently, now is a good time to set up a meeting with an experienced estate planning lawyer in Massachusetts. You can get your questions answered and get the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve taken a look at your plans and protected your loved ones appropriately.

Make Sure That Life Insurance Is Incorporated Properly in Your Estate Plan

Document of Life Insurance Policy for backgroundLife insurance is often seen as a supplementary component to an existing estate plan because the proceeds from a life insurance policy that has been kept active could be used to provide liquidity when it is most needed.

Insurance money, for example, could help to keep other assets intact and pay immediate expenses such as an estate tax. Bear in mind that some of the biggest assets you may leave behind to your beneficiaries after you pass away are those that cannot easily be disposed of. It might also take time for family members to come to come to terms with selling or deciding to keep those various assets such as a home.

Life insurance errors can also wreak havoc on your estate plan if you have not properly thought through how to structure your policies. Some of the most common errors include:

  • Carrying an inappropriate amount of insurance.
  • It is important to review your policies once every three years or so.
  • Naming only one person as the beneficiary.
  • Naming the estate as the beneficiary, which officially puts the policy inside your estate.

Your entire estate plan might not revolve around just life insurance, but there’s a good bet that insurance is a component of it. If you’re ready to talk options, contact an experienced Massachusetts estate planning attorney today. Working with a financial advisor and an estate lawyer can help you with these issues.

Giving to Charity is a Common and Worthwhile Goal of Many Estate Planning Meetings

Two hands offering to give, donate or charityEstate planning laws allow for individuals to donate part or some of an individual’s estate to charity. There are many different reasons why an individual might choose to donate to a charity upon his or her death. For example, in certain situations there may be no family members to inherit an estate’s assets, or the individual may feel a particular commitment to pass on assets to a charity. Having a plan in place can allow the charity to get the most possible benefit.

The bottom line is that this boils down to what is most important for the person engaging in the estate planning process. When thinking about passing on your assets to charity, it is important to set up a meeting with an experienced estate planning attorney.

An estate planning attorney can walk you through all of the potential options for passing on an estate to a charity as well as what makes the most sense both for you and for the charity from the perspective of taxes or maximum assets left behind.

Planning to pass things on to a charity can be simple or complex but it should always be aligned with your individual goals and done under the guidance of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney. A Massachusetts estate planning lawyer can help you figure out your next steps so that you can carry out your goals for charitable giving and do this in the most effective way.

One of The Best Things That You Can Do for Your Estate Planning Is to Ask Questions When You Don’t Know the Answers

Young male and female students in auditorium, one raising handMany people are unfamiliar with the complex or even simple strategies that may be involved with estate planning. Therefore, it’s a good idea to ask for advice when you’re not sure what to do next. Finding research on the internet or hearing about the experiences of friends is not the same thing as meeting with an experienced attorney to talk about what’s truly best for you.

Every individual needs a unique and customized estate plan based on their individual desires and their plans for both their life and for what will happen after they pass away. Estate planning often involves navigating complex situations such as blended families, caring for a child with special needs, determining what documents you need to have in place in the event you become incapacitated and establishing a long term plan for passing on property inside your will.

Each family and individual is different and a knowledgeable estate planning attorney can help you walk through the process and determine the strategies most appropriate for your individual needs. Trying to handle things on your own could lead to costly mistakes that could be problematic for your loved ones after you pass away.

Make sure you think carefully about the benefits of planning ahead as you contemplate your estate planning. The right Massachusetts estate lawyer can be extremely helpful for answering all of your questions and for informing you regarding what to expect.

Common Reasons That a Will Is Contested – Not Being in Line with Applicable State Laws

Judge gavel. Flat web icon or sign isolated on grey background. Collection modern trend concept design style vector illustration symbolPutting together a will is certainly something that is worthwhile regardless of the size of your estate. Failing to do so could lead to problems and arguments with your family members after you pass away.

There are several common grounds for these kinds of arguments. One of the most common is that the will wasn’t signed in accordance with applicable state laws. Laws vary from one state to another and it is imperative that your estate planning attorney considers not only federal issues like estate taxes but also specific state wide language and other requirements to ensure that your will is valid.

If someone contests your will after you pass away and is able to prove that the will is invalid, this could cause numerous problems in terms of passing on your assets in the way you intended.

Rather than running the risk of having your will being signed not in accordance with state laws or having other ambiguous language that leads to contention down the road, make sure that your will is updated and reviewed by an estate planning attorney on a regular basis. Speaking with a lawyer is strongly recommended so that you can ensure your individual needs are being protected and included in all of your documents.
Make sure your will has been put together by an attorney in Massachusetts with special consideration given to federal and state laws that may apply to your estate. Set up a meeting with a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer today to discuss this further.