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Worcester Massachusetts Estate Planning Law Blog

3 critical decisions when drafting your will

Too many families in Massachusetts and across the country do not have wills. A recent study says nearly half of those surveyed are without any estate plan and women are more likely not to have a will in place. Many reasons are given, including a reluctance to think about death or they believe wills are only for the rich.

However, having a will in place is one of the most important and loving decisions you can make for your family. Having an estate plan is more than dividing up your assets when you die, it can also tell a court who you want to raise your kids as well as making sure your belongings go to the people or organizations of your choice.

What duties am I responsible for as a personal representative?

If you are the personal representative of a loved one’s estate, you were either named as such in your loved one’s will or appointed by a court. Serving as a personal representative, sometimes called an executor, can be an honor. However, it is also a serious responsibility.

As a personal representative, you are responsible for managing your loved one’s final affairs. This can involve numerous steps, each with its own legal complexities.

When you may want to consider a trust rather than a will

There is no single correct way to organize your estate plan. You might employ a number of different potential strategies, each with advantages and disadvantages. That includes the use of a will. While a will has many benefits, there are scenarios in which you might want to consider using a trust instead.

Trusts, while they can be more legally complex, do offer some additional flexibility under certain circumstances. With that in mind, here are a few instances in which utilizing a trust, rather than a will, might be effective.

What to know when considering an advanced health care directive

Planning for the future can be a daunting task, especially when you don’t know what lies ahead. An advanced health care directive allows you to remain in control over what happens to you in the event of incapacitation.

Two common types of advanced directives are health care directives/proxies and living wills.

Is falling inevitable as your parents age?

As an adult child of aging parents, you likely have many things you want to help your parents consider while planning for the future. Pre-determining how they want to meet their medical needs may require a great deal of thought, conversation and documentation.

Unfortunately, no matter how much planning you do, your parents could fall and suffer injuries. Even if they live in a well-staffed nursing home, you may want to do all you can to decrease your parents’ chances of falling.

Creating a will means embracing choice

A person is often unable to make many choices about his or her own death. However, you can make choices about what you want to happen after your death. One way to embrace those choices is by creating a last will and testament.

There are many benefits to creating a will, such as speeding up the probate process, minimizing estate taxes and preventing family infighting. However, some of the most valuable benefits involve your ability to make choices about what happens after your death.

Elder Law vs. Estate Planning

Many people have difficulty describing the difference between what a traditional estate planning attorney offers his or her clients versus what an elder law attorney offers his or her clients.

The easy answer is that an estate planning attorney addresses the common issue of what happens to one's assets at death.  In a traditional estate planning setting, much emphasis is placed on minimizing estate taxes, as well as insuring the most efficient and least restrictive means of transferring wealth to others.

When to Update an Existing Estate Plan

Completing an estate plan generally provides individuals with a sense of relief and accomplishment knowing that their wishes and desires with respect to medical and financial decision making, as well as asset distribution are represented in black and white. However, most people take a set it and forget it approach meaning that once their planning is completed, they are under the misconception that it should not be reviewed or addressed at a later date. In a perfect world, estate plans should be reviewed and updated (if necessary) on a regular basis. The following life events or changes in circumstances may require an update of your estate plan:

Who will make critical life decisions for you if you cannot?

There is no substitute for being properly prepared when disaster strikes. Even in the course of ordinary life, it can become increasingly difficult for us as we get older to manage our own affairs. But this is especially true in cases of stroke, Alzheimer's and other mentally debilitating conditions. Fortunately, Massachusetts law allows residents to choose who they want to have control over their personal affairs should they lose the ability to do so,

A durable power of attorney is a document that allows you to give another person (called an "attorney-in-fact") the authority to make banking, real estate and other financial decisions on your behalf. It can be broad in its granting of authority or limited to specific aspects of your financial dealings. The goal of the instrument is to allow you to choose the person who will control your personal affairs in the event you are unable, instead of leaving it to the state to appoint a conservator.

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