You Can’t Count on a Will Alone

Unfortunately, experienced estate planning attorneys say there’s a high percentage of clients who have recurring mistakes in their strategy. If you haven’t had your plan updated in the last three years or if you’ve never visited with an estate planning attorney, you might not even have a will. If you do have a will, it is highly likely that the will does not fully protect you as you intended that it might.

Relying on a will alone is not enough. A complete estate plan must include numerous different documents that address your concerns prior to you passing away, such as an advanced medical directive and a power of attorney. These documents can enable one or more agents to make decisions and take particular actions associated with your assets or medical care when you are no longer able to do so. Unfortunately, when many people skip out on this process, the actions are only taken after a court appoints a guardian to act on your behalf and it could be someone that you didn’t intend to serve in this role.

Some people believe that there’s no rush to execute these critical estate planning documents but that is a myth. A sudden event such as a stroke or a heart attack could cause someone to need a power of attorney document and advance medical directive. Once an event like this happens, it is too late to put together the necessary documentation for legal purposes. This is why it is recommended to have it well in advance, even before you think you need it with a MA estate planning attorney.

Might You Unexpectedly Become Your Parents’ Caretaker?

Far too many families avoid talking about the process of estate planning and many people don’t even have a basic will. Problems may emerge when people are suddenly thrust into a position of managing someone’s care or organization of documents after an incapacitating event or death. Far too many people don’t realize that they are anticipated to be the primary caregiver for their aging parents.

Taking care of parents in old age can be an unexpected surprise that interrupts your savings. A recent study completed by Bay Alarm Medical showed that 55% of parents anticipate that their children will be the ones caring for them. This could lead parents to avoid taking on critical planning opportunities such as purchasing long term care insurance, relying on children instead.

But an adult child who does not know that he or she is going to be asked to step into this role will have significant disruptions in their life. These parents anticipate that their adult children will take care of them financially and physically. In certain areas of the United States, adult children were less likely to realize that they were the ones responsible to step in in this role.

For example, in the Midwest, only 36% of adult children anticipated that they would be the ones caring for their aging parents. Sitting down and talking through these difficult topics with your loved ones can make it much easier to navigate problematic situations as they emerge.

An estate planning lawyer can help you accomplish your own estate planning and see what options are available for helping your aging parents.

Keys to Preserving Wealth Through Multiple Generations

Keys to Preserving Wealth Through Multiple Generations

Many different people are interested in protecting their legacy as well as passing on as much wealth as possible to future generations. According to research, however, many high net worth families have lost their fortunes by the second or the third generation. Up to 70% of a wealthy family’s fortune is typically gone by the third generation and nearly 90% of it is gone by the fourth. This is why it is extremely important to consider preserving wealth through multiple generations with the help of the right estate planning strategies.

Although many high net worth families are taking conservative positions this year, it is important to consider setting up tools that will help individuals let trust and other strategies last as long as possible. Some of the tools that are typically used in this situation include multiple kinds of trusts, a family limited partnership, and an intra-family loan.

The urgency of wills and trusts cannot be overstated for a high net worth family, where it becomes imperative to calculate how much money will be passed on to future generations. Trusts provide a great deal more flexibility and control over your intentions for passing on assets and can also help to shield you from some of the public nature of a will.

Trusts offer more ability for you to outline how a beneficiary will receive the assets. This is ideal for your concerns about a spendthrift child or a beneficiary may need some time and planning to adjust to his or her new assets. Establishing that the trust kicks in at a particular age can encourage children to finish their educational goals as well.

Advanced planning is important for everyone, but especially for high net worth individuals who hope to pass on the wealth and the family legacy for generations to come. Having a relationship with the right Massachusetts estate planning lawyer is important.

Four Basics Steps to Your Estate Planning Process

Unfortunately, far too many people believe that estate planning begins and ends with a simple will but this can be a catastrophic mistake as wills are exposed to potential mistakes as well.

This is particularly true if you attempt to engage in estate planning process on your own without consulting directly with an attorney. What follows are four key steps to consider for your estate plan:

  • Learn the local laws as well as the real estate and probate rules in your individual state. If you own property in multiple states it is even more important to have an experienced attorney representing you and helping you put together your estate plan.
  • Never put a piece of property into a child’s name while you’re still alive without consulting with an attorney about the     right strategy to do this. If the child eventually goes bankrupt, creditors may be eligible to seize the house.
  • Be careful of transferring bank accounts to children in order to avoid estate and probate taxes. With individuals living longer, this could leave will writers destitute in their retirement years.
  • Ensure that your beneficiary information is always updated and your wills are updated on a regular basis by scheduling consultation with an attorney every single year to discuss whether or not your estate plans are still meeting your individual needs.

Following these four steps could help to minimize the chances of disputes and potential problems later in life.

When it comes to approaching your estate planning, having a lawyer you can count on is critical. Knowing that you have someone who can help you as your needs change over the course of your life. A Massachusetts estate planning lawyer may be very helpful for your planning process.



Reasons to Revoke a Will

As you likely know, it’s important to have a valid will in the event that something happens to you. This allows your loved ones to receive assets that you choose when you pass away, and in conjunction with other estate planning strategies, may be important for helping make the process as easy as possible for your family.words last will and testament written on typewriter

That being said, there’s a good chance that your life circumstances might change after you put together your initial will. It’s important to ensure that you already have a relationship with an estate planning attorney if you want to change your will. Having multiple versions of your will can become confusing, and if you’re not careful, it could even open the door for family members to argue that the will entered into probate is invalid.

Here are a couple of reasons why you may wish to consider revoking your will and writing a new one with the help of a Massachusetts estate planning attorney:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • A minor child becoming an adult
  • Winning the lottery or inheriting/receiving a large asset
  • Having more children

What seems like a small mistake on your end could render your new will invalid, so you need to work with your attorney to make sure that it’s clear the new version is accurate and recognized as valid. This is particularly true if you are changing your distributions significantly.

Remember, a will might look like a simple document, but it has big ramifications for your beneficiaries. Make sure yours is correct by working with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney.

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.

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.         

When Should I Update My Living Will?

Last Will and TestamentYour living will is one of the most important documents in your Massachusetts estate planning toolbox. It is the companion to your Health Care Proxy. Your Health Care Proxy is the official document that names individuals that you want to step in in the event that you are unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself.

The living will outlines those wishes for your agents and it is something that should be reviewed and updated regularly. Your living will is a personalized document with your individual wishes. Keep in mind that as your life situation or your health changes you may want to update those wishes. There are several times that you may want to consider updating your living will. These include:

  • Learning that you are pregnant
  • Milestone birthdays
  • If you can’t remember what your current living will says
  • If you’ve recently been inspired by a media story about where someone else’ s vague living will has caused problems for family members
  • When family members have gone through a health crisis and you want to ensure that your living will encompasses situations that have happened
  • Before you go into the hospital for any major procedure such as a surgery

Consulting with a knowledgeable Massachusetts estate planning attorney can help you accomplish your goals as it relates to a living will. Since this is one of the most important aspects of your estate planning, it is something that you should take quite seriously. Thankfully, it’s a document easily put together with the help of a lawyer.

How Is a Living Will Different From a Will?

Last Will ConceptIf you are thinking about planning ahead for your estate in Massachusetts, you probably have many questions about the most appropriate tools to use. One of the most common questions for individuals who have not spent much time with estate planning in the past has to do with how a living will is different from a will. These terms are frequently misunderstood as meaning one and the same. Read on to discover the distinction and how you can use one or both in your estate plan.

What’s a Living Will?

A living will, however, only addresses your healthcare concerns. It’s an official statement that you do or do not want your death artificially prolonged in the event that you have a terminal injury or illness, or in a situation where your death appears imminent and the medical treatment you are currently receiving from physicians is only prolonging the process of death. A living will frequently works alongside a healthcare proxy in Massachusetts.

The living will outlines official guidance to the appointed healthcare agent in the event that your healthcare agent is ever needed to make a life or death decision.

In Massachusetts there is no specific statute that details how a living will is created or what language is needed. However, having a Living Will to expand on the information in your Health Care Proxy gives your agent and a clear understanding of your wishes.

What’s a Last Will and Testament?

Your last will and testament, on the other hand, is your written declaration of how you want your assets distributed after you pass away.  Your will must be executed in accordance with relevant Massachusetts state laws. Both of these documents can be drafted and reviewed by a Massachusetts estate planning attorney, but it’s important to understand how they operate differently and function as part of your estate plan rather than as two similar documents.