Do College Students Really Need an Estate Plan?

A young female college student between classes.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.


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.



What You Need to Know About the Basics of the Estate Planning Process

If you assume that you don’t have any assets, you could be making the mistake of skipping out on an estate plan entirely. An estate plan is one of the most important collections of documents that you will have and there are many reasons why.

 Every person has an estate with very few exceptions. Even a young child who has a custodial account in his or her name could be considered to have an estate.

If you have anything of value that you want to give to someone else when you pass away, you have an estate. There are several different documents that you need to meet your estate planning goals and you also need to understand in general, the basics of how these all work. This estate planning process includes:

  • Current laws in your state and at the federal level
  • Gift taxes
  • The estate tax system and how it works
  • Trust as a compliment to wills
  • Wills and other essential documents
  • Durable powers of attorney

You need to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney if you have not yet engaged in the process of considering what will happen after you pass away. Estate planning, however, is not only about what happens after you’ve passed away. It is just as much about how you will handle your affairs while you are still alive, including documents like a health care proxy or financial power of attorney. Consult with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney today to learn more.

Estate Planning Matters for All Ages

There’s a tendency to think that estate planning in Massachusetts is only for someone at or near retirement age. This is based on the premise that estate planning is only for outlining what happens to your belongings after you pass away, but it’s just as important that you plan for your life as it is your death.Financial contract signature

A sudden disability, illness, or accident can raise a lot of legal questions very quickly. Without the appropriate powers of attorney, you leave your family in a difficult situation. While no one wants to think about being incapacitated, it’s an important issue to consider just in case. In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need to activate these power of attorney documents, but, much like an insurance policy, it’s your form of protection in case you do need it.

One of the biggest reasons why people outside of the retirement age bracket need estate planning is to name a guardian for their children. Just as no one wants to think about a sudden accident causing a disability, it’s even harder to think about your own mortality, but it’s likely that you do have strong feelings about who you would like to raise your children if you were not able to do so.

If something does happen to you, this time would be very challenging for your children already. A turbulent and unstable situation could make this process even more difficult for them. That’s why you need to do the homework to ensure that you have fully documented who want to take over. Make sure you have a conversation with this person or people before you put together the documents with your Massachusetts estate planning attorney. Taking responsibility for someone else’s children is a serious matter and it’s a role that should only be given to someone who understands the full implications.

Ready to talk estate planning? Contact a Massachusetts estate planning attorney’s office today.

Hitting the Road for Summer Travel? Make Sure You Accomplish These Estate Planning Steps Before You Go

Whether you’re heading off to the beach or hitting the mountains to enjoy some time with your family, you might feel like estate planning is nowhere on your priority list. It’s difficult to think about your own morbidity, but it’s also important to consider this before you head off on summer travel. Here are five different steps you need to take before hitting the open road or boarding that flight. Closeup of business woman signing documents in a cafe

Check Beneficiary Designations

Make sure that your life insurance, your IRA and your 401(k) plans have accurate beneficiary designations. Since these often do not comply with the terms of your will, it’s good to keep them updated regularly.

Create a Will

It’s relatively easy to put together a will when you consult with an experienced estate planning attorney and it’s something you certainly must have just in case an accident occurs.

Name Guardians for Your Children

Whether or not you choose to make a will – and you certainly should – it is imperative that you name a guardian for your children. Otherwise you may have no say over what happens to your minor children if something were to happen to you and your spouse.

Create Health Care Documents

Death is not the only reason to consider your estate planning options. If something were to happen to you where you become incapacitated, you would want health care documents  in place to articulate your wishes.

Create a Durable General Power of Attorney

A durable general power of attorney is an important document to have established well before you travel. This allows another individual to make medical decisions on your behalf if you were to become incapacitated.

Although it’s difficult to think about your estate planning options, it’s a good idea to consult with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney now.

I Am Concerned That My Family Might Contest My Will. How Can I Avoid This?

Last Will and Testament with Fountain PenMany individuals who are going through the process of putting together their estate planning are doing so not just because they are concerned about outlining their wishes clearly, but also so that they can help family members avoid arguments in the future. Unfortunately, family arguments over what you intended for your property are all too common, as any recent number of celebrity news stories has indicated. There are several different reasons that someone can contest a will in Massachusetts.

There are several different things that you can do to minimize the chances that your family will be able to contest your will. All families experience challenges and sometimes these issues spill over into the management of an estate after you’ve passed away. You can increase the chances of your will being upheld after you pass away by ensuring that your will has been executed properly by an experienced attorney in your state. Working with an attorney instead of using generic templates can help you avoid some of the most common challenges in having your will not seen as valid.

An attorney, however, is familiar with all applicable federal and state laws and can suggest other strategies and information to help you make the most out of your estate planning. Secondly, you can do your part by explaining your decisions to your family while you are still alive.

When you have had this conversation prior to passing away, your family will at least be somewhat familiar with your wishes and less likely to contest it overall. Having a valid will is the most important thing you can do to protect the integrity of your estate and minimize the chances that your loved ones will disagree. Work with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney to learn more.

Baby Boomers Must Be Aware of the Number One Estate Planning Issue Impacting Their Generation

Most people are familiar with the basic tenets of estate planning and understand their benefit. Estate planning, however, is not only about what happens to your assets after you pass away. Instead, it is also about how you plan for your own incapacity as well as any challenges associated with living longer.Baby Boom Generation

Longevity is the number one issue that baby boomers need to be aware of. With more than 3.5 million baby boomers entering retirement every single year, the time to put together your estate planning documents while you are of sound mind is most certainly now.

Demographics in the United States are shifting significantly. By 2050, it is believed that 20% of all Americans will be over the age of 65. At that time, it is expected that the quickest growing demographic in the nation will be individuals aged 85 and above.

Although it is certainly worthwhile to be concerned about long term care and managing chronic diseases, many people are living longer even with chronic diseases that were associated with a higher risk of mortality in the past. For example, more than 90% of seniors today are living with one chronic disease and more than three questers of seniors are living with two or more chronic diseases.

Planning for incapacity is just as important for planning for what happens to your assets after you pass away. Set up a meeting with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney today to make sure you have all of the documents and tools in place to manage your life now and in the future.

Do Unmarried Couples Need Estate Planning?

Estate planningUnfortunately, however, if you fail to recognize that there is a relationship and concerns associated with these two unmarried individuals, you could run the risk that your significant other has zero rights and could be removed financially and personally from your life. There are three key documents that unmarried couples should consider. These include:

  • A Health Care Proxy in which you are able to designate another individual to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
  • A durable power of attorney which allows another individual to step in and manage your finances if you become incapacitated.
  • A will or living trust that allows you to form the basis of your estate plan. Either one or both of these documents may be important for you.

Consulting with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney is the first step to determining what documents and strategies may be used by an unmarried couple to protect their interests in the future.

As your needs evolve, having a relationship with an estate planning attorney in Massachusetts can make it easier for you to update your documentation. With marriage, divorce, or the birth of a new child, your estate plan needs to grow as you do.         

What Are the Most Essential Estate Planning Documents?

9estate planningWhen you approach the subject of estate planning in Massachusetts, you should know that it might look a little different for everyone. What works for one does not work for another because the strategies and tools of estate planning are aligned with your specific needs.

That being said, there are several documents that may be beneficial for consideration as you meet with your Massachusetts estate planning attorney. There are three major documents that are likely to be an overall part of your planning strategy, each helping you accomplish specific goals.

To start with, your last will and testament is frequently the cornerstone of your planning. It’s your chance to outline how you wish to pass your assets on to others. This helps avoid some of the downsides of the probate process while also giving you the chance to make these important decisions and protect them.

Second, think about the benefits of a power of attorney. This document allows you to name someone else who will have legal authority to act in your stead if you become incapacitated. You might also use a limited power of attorney, which specifics certain instances in which the agent is authorized to act.

Finally, a Health Care Proxy and a Living Will, often called an advanced directive in other states, are important documents to consider if you have specific wishes about your healthcare. If you have specific feelings about whether or not you want life-sustaining activities to stop if there is no chance of your recovery, your advanced directive is the place to articulate this. Without a document like this, your family members may disagree on the options and it can make a difficult time even more challenging for them.

These three documents are just a starting point. You’ll need to speak with your Massachusetts estate planning attorney to determine if there are other tools and strategies from which you can benefit.

What Happens to Stocks After the Death of the Owner?

Business Stock Exchange Trading ConceptsAcross the United States, stock ownership is extremely common and this is why the question about what happens to stock ownership transfer when the holder passes away is of great importance to many individuals.

There are numerous variables that impact this, but the most important one has to do with whether or not the stocks are jointly owned. Since Massachusetts is not a community property state, you need to walk through your planning options with an attorney to make sure all of your assets and accounts are organized properly.

Typically, any jointly owned equities  pass to the survivor, although laws of different states can differ especially when it comes to what is classified as separate property. One of the most common methods for passing stock along is to use a registration referred to as ‘transfer on death.’.This means that a named beneficiary can take ownership of the stocks while avoiding the probate process.

Bear in mind that not all states allow for transfer on death registration for stocks, meaning that the probate process could still be required when the inheritance comes through a will or intestacy. If you are thinking about planning ahead for your own future, you will carefully want to consider all assets and how you want them included in your planning.

Meeting with a Masschusetts estate planning attorney can be extremely helpful if you intend to outline the distribution of assets that you wish to exclude from probate. Using tools like trust, for example, can help ensure that you maintain control over the distribution of assets without having concerns associated with your beneficiaries having to go through the probate process. You can talk over your options with an estate planning attorney about how jointly owned property will be treated when you pass away.

An estate planning attorney can also help you walk through all of the different assets in your estate to ensure that you have provided for the appropriate planning for each of them. Taking a comprehensive look at your estate planning is always beneficial.