Don’t Make This Estate Planning Mistake with Your Personal Property

You can learn plenty from the experiences of famous individuals who made estate planning blunders such as Martin Luther King Jr or Robin Williams.

A film memorabilia collection owned by Robin Williams has initiated a legal conflict between family members and Martin Luther King’s children fought over his Nobel medal and his Bible.

Unfortunately, personal property is frequently overlooked in the estate planning process. This can lead to plenty of legal conflicts and other conflicts over the future of collectibles, items that have a sentimental value and family heirlooms.

Even if you choose to mention these items in your will or other estate planning documents, they can be challenging for an heir to prove that he or she has the right to own it if another individual disputes the claim. For example, if there are multiple collectibles in contention and you’ve named specific items for certain people, this could generate arguments between family members.

If you have items of sentimental value or that you want to pass on to specific individuals, you should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney.

An estate planning attorney can help you develop an inventory of all of the assets you wish to pass on and include clear detail about how these are to be given to someone else. Doing so can minimize conflicts and put you in a better position going forward.

If you’re ready to talk about how to handle your personal property as well as other assets inside your estate, set up a meeting with a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer today.

Do College Students Really Need an Estate Plan?

Sending an adult child off to college can be an exciting experience and is perhaps the first time that a parent really begins to see the child as an adult. Many college students keep ties to their parents in some way, like staying on a health insurance plan or sharing the cellphone bill. However, one often-overlooked area is that of estate planning for college students.

Although it might seem like this is the first break between parents and children in a legal sense, with your college student now managing many of his or her day-to-day affairs on their own, the law sees your child as an adult when he or she has reached age 18. This could lead to confusion and frustration if a medical emergency happens. As a parent, when the child achieves age 18, a parent loses many of the rights he or she had when the child was a minor.

A parent of an adult child, in most states, will not have access to basic details about the medical needs of the child. A parent can also be excluded from making important medical decisions about the child, too. Once a child reaches age 18, the law recognizes his or her ability to make medical decisions on their own. Thankfully, if this is not desired by you and the child, there are estate planning documents to address these concerns. At a minimum, you may want to consider a health care proxy, HIPAA release, and durable power of attorney.

To discuss your individual situation and which documents may be most appropriate, consult with an experienced Massachusetts estate planning lawyer now to learn more.


Where Flexibility Plays a Role in Your Estate Plan

There are many different reasons why it’s imperative to consider flexibility in the estate planning process. First of all, life changes are more common now than ever before. With many people entering in second or even third marriages, providing for children from previous marriages and relationships is often a key concern. This can become an entangled and complex issue legally if you aren’t working with the right estate planning attorney.

Joyful senior stretching his legs in a park

Another reason to maintain flexibility is because older parents who may wish to pass on assets to adult children may also be concerned about the adult child’s ability to control that money.

This is why many individuals facing this uncertainty might set up a meeting with an estate planning attorney to talk about the benefits of using a trust.

Using a trust, parents can place their valuables into the trust during their lifetime, and have greater control over how these assets are distributed. This helps to protect against an adult child who may be a spendthrift or otherwise feel uncomfortable inheriting a large amount of money at once.

This gives the parents peace of mind that the money will be distributed appropriately and that it will reduce the chances of that adult child becoming out of control with his or her spending.

These are just a couple of the benefits of including flexibility in your estate planning. To learn more, reach out to an experienced estate planning attorney today.


Estate Planning Documents You Need to Get Familiar With

Estate planning can be as complex or as simple as you need it to be. The best way to protect yourself and to ensure that all your bases are covered is to set up a consultation with an estate planning attorney and to meet with him or her regularly.

As your life changes, you may require more complex estate planning or you may need to update existing documents to reflect the addition of new or the removal of old beneficiaries, as an example.

Here are some of the most common estate planning documents you might encounter and what you need to know about them.

Up first is a basic will. It is certainly the estate planning document most people are familiar with, and for good reason. It is a great way to plan ahead for passing on your property and assets.  Another option you might want to consider is using a trust rather than a will. A trust is a great choice if you want to avoid probate or set up trusts for your children and grandchildren after you are gone.

Next is a durable power of attorney in which you name an agent to act on your behalf if you become unable to do so. Usually, this will cover the management of your financial affairs, but speak to your estate planning attorney about what powers you can list here.

A durable healthcare power of attorney can be used to give someone else the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to communicate your wishes.

Finally, your beneficiary designation forms are powerful tools that you should be reviewing annually – at a minimum. You probably have a form for several different accounts, including your IRA, 401(k), and any life insurance policies. Confirm that the primary and alternate beneficiaries are what you want, and make sure the designation forms are with your important papers.

For more information about key estate planning documents you’re likely to need to know about, set up a meeting with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney today.

Why Communication Matters with the Right Estate Planning Attorney

Setting up an initial meeting with an estate planning attorney is a valuable exercise that can help you uncover where there are gaps in your current estate plan.

There are many different considerations when it comes to thinking about how property will be passed on after you pass away, but there are also issues to be addressed with regard to estate planning while you’re still alive. This is why it is imperative to think of your estate planning attorney as someone more than you visit once every 10 years or so.Financial contract signature

In fact, an experienced estate planning attorney should recommend that you meet with him or her on a regular basis. This is because not only will your life change, but the tax codes and the laws of your state can change over the course of time. Having a good relationship with a lawyer you trust can put your mind at ease regarding your emergency plans as well as your long-term plans for your estate.

The estate planning documents you’ve put together today may not represent your wishes a couple of years from now, and this is why it is essential to work with an attorney who is committed to keeping you informed.

A good estate planning attorney should always be prepared meet with you to discuss your current plan and suggest changes that may better meet your wishes. Speaking with an estate planning lawyer in Massachusetts now and keeping the flow of communication open can be extremely beneficial for you and your family.

What to Expect in Your First Meeting with an Estate Planning Attorney

If you’re new to the concept of estate planning, you are not alone. In fact, far too many people have gone without even the most basic of estate planning documents. However, being unprepared for your first meeting with an estate planning attorney can generate nerves and anxiety if you’re not sure what to expect.

During this initial meeting, bring any documents that you do have with you and any notes that you have about what would you like to happen to your property. Be decisive about your choices, especially when it comes to your estate plan.

A basic understanding of all of your assets can be beneficial so that you can come up with a comprehensive inventory. If you have any specific wishes or questions, note these down in advance as well so that your attorney can help you figure out next steps.

During the initial meeting,Closeup of business woman signing documents in a cafe the attorney will likely make an effort in order to get to know you, your family’s situation and your business situation if you have one. The attorney will usually take notes and ask follow up questions in order to identify your needs and to come up with a complete picture of your individual situation. From there, the attorney might suggest numerous tactics and strategies in order to develop an estate plan for you.

The attorney should be focused on taking your individual needs and translating those into strategies that can help you and make things easier for your heirs down the line. During this meeting you should also be taking notes as well and noting questions as the attorney speaks so that you can ask them.

At the end of the meeting the attorney will likely suggest next steps. This could be handling one or more of the aspects that he or she has talked about in the meeting itself and further information may be required from you.

Being prepared in advance and having all of your materials organized and written down can make things go much more quickly but it is also a good idea to have an ongoing relationship with your Massachusetts estate planning attorney so that things can be changed as needed.


For more information see Preparing for an Initial Estate Planning Consultation

Critical Questions You Should Ask Your Estate Planning Attorney

When you’re hiring a Massachusetts estate planning attorney, you might be under the impression that the process is relatively simple. You might, for example, believe thatprofessionals1 what you need is a simple will. While it is certainly possible that you may only need a will, it is still an incredibly important process to select the right estate planning attorney. Estate planning in reality is anything but simple. In fact, it is one of the most complex facets of the law in general. It is bound by both state and federal regulations and requires careful planning for your unique needs. Planning for you and your estate, both during the time you are alive as well as after you pass away, is extremely complex. Some of the most important questions you should ask your estate planning attorney include:
• Do you provide comprehensive estate planning services?
• Will you help with additional loss of privacy, delays, costs or other problems associated with probate?
• What percentage of your practice is associated with elder law or estate planning?
• How many hours of continuing legal education programs associated with elder law or estate planning topics do you attend every year?
• Do you properly title, ensure and outline beneficiaries for all assets inside my trust?
• What kind of homework is required from me as the client in order to successfully manage my estate planning needs?
All of these questions can help illuminate whether or not someone is the right fit for you as a Massachusetts estate planning attorney.

Key Estate Planning Concerns for the Sandwich Generation

Individuals in the sandwich generation, or adult children who are caring for their own minor children while also helping their aging parents have a unique set of estate planning concerns. For example, you might have just come to the realization that your adult parents have never gone through the estate planning process.

Faced with numerous questions about long term care and retirement, you may want to help your aging parents get on top of their estate planning by setting up a meeting with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney today. This is also a great time to evaluate your own estate planning documents.

When was the last time you’ve updated your will? Are all of the beneficiaries on your various accounts like your life insurance policy or your investment accounts in line with any changes in your life including marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child?

The sandwich generation has many things to be concerned about but estate planning can be easily accomplished by setting up a meeting with a lawyer and talking about your primary goals. Estate planning helps you gain peace of mind about your future and also about how property will be distributed to your beneficiaries if something happens to you.

If you have concerns about assisting your elderly parents and putting together your own estate planning tools, schedule a meeting with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney today.



Key Concerns of Estate Planning for the Aging Population

Baby boomers represent a significant portion of the American population today. One of the biggest concerns impacting these baby boomers is that people are living longer than ever. Life expectancy in 1950 for comparison purpose, was just 65 years.

However, today, men live an average of 76 years and women live for an average of 82 years. This means that old retirement planning methods just might not cut it when it comes to this longer time in retirement. Individuals have to think carefully as well about how a potential long term care event could influence them.

A sudden accident or disability could generate a lot of legal and financial questions for your loved ones if you have not done your proper planning. Meeting with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney can help to make sure that you have all the proper documents in line if you have specific wishes about your healthcare decisions. It can also allow you to appoint somebody else under a health care proxy to make decisions for you if you become unable to do so.

There has never been a more important time than now to think about protecting yourself and setting up a meeting with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney.

The Biggest Benefits of Establishing a Trust

You might be under the impression that if you do not have many assets then you don’t have to set up a meeting with an estate planning attorney. Trusts actually have numerous benefits that can help you and your beneficiaries now and down the line.

Understanding the benefits of a trust can help you determine whether or not it’s the right fit for you. One of the most common reasons for establishing a trust is to avoid probate. This could lead to a substantial savings and paperwork, legal fees and time. Probate is the process by which a judge determines whether or not a will is valid.

A trust, however, allows your decedents to avoid this process and gain access to the property and assets much more quickly. Probate fees can also be eliminated or reduced, thus saving your family money as well. A trust also gives you better protection against possible legal action with anyone who would be unhappy about the distribution of the assets and decides to challenge it through the court systems.

Furthermore, a trust also gives you a greater layer of privacy and more flexibility over how these assets are distributed. A trust grantor determines how the assets inside the estate will be distributed to beneficiaries.

For those beneficiaries, for example, that you may worry about managing money, you can outline when and how they will receive these assets, which gives parents a great deal of peace of mind. To learn more about setting up a trust and other estate planning questions, contact a Massachusetts estate planning attorney.