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Helping People Age with Dignity

Middlesex County & Essex County Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Recourse against fraud

One of the most painful aspects of life that the elderly in Massachusetts face is the prevalence of scammers who seek to prey on their life savings. Here is some information about fraud on the elderly and some of the solutions that elderly people and their families can use to protect their assets and peace of mind.

Senior citizens are attractive victims to con artists, according to the FBI, because they often own their home and have accumulated savings over the course of their lives. Seniors may lack the technological savvy to recognize fraudulent information or avoid click-bait traps. Once a senior falls victim to a scam, she may not know where to turn and may fear reporting that she has been scammed in the belief that it will undermine her family's belief in her ability to take care of herself. 

Rogers Guardianships and antipsychotic medications

The court in Massachusetts may appoint a guardian for an elderly person who lacks the ability to make important decisions regarding his or her own care. According to the Massachusetts Guardianship Association, someone requesting the guardianship must provide evidence that the person in question is incapacitated and needs a guardian to make health care and other decisions for him or her. Normal guardianship does not cover all medical circumstances, though, and in some situations, the court may require a Rogers Guardianship.

Extraordinary treatments can only be administered by a person granted a Rogers Guardianship, and these include intrusive, limiting or risky treatments. One of these is the administration of antipsychotic medications. The court considers two factors before granting this authority. Not only must the person who needs the medication be determined unable to give informed consent, the court must also consider whether the person would choose the treatment if he or she had the capacity.

Types of estate plans: part 2

In the first part of this series, we explored intestacy and wills. Today, we will delve deeper into what Massachusetts estate planners should know about trusts.

Trusts hold and distribute or maintain assets for beneficiaries. A trust is administered by a designated person called a trustee and is not subject to probate. Your trust's trustee is responsible for managing and distributing assets in the trust in accordance with your wishes.

Types of estate plans: part 1

At Curley Law Firm, L.L.P., we have answered many clients' questions about Massachusetts estate law. One of the most fundamental questions that all of our clients face is which type of estate plan is right for their needs.

In this two-part series we will examine types of estate plans and how one type of estate plan, a trust, is administered.

What is the cy pres doctrine?

When you are creating your estate plan in Massachusetts, you have many options to consider. You can use a simple will, a trust, or even a charitable trust to manage your assets after you are gone. It is important to know the specific rules that apply to each type of estate plan before you choose which one to employ.

If you choose to create a charitable trust, you should become familiar with the cy pres doctrine. As described in the Marquette Law Review, the cy pres doctrine was adopted in Massachusetts in 1867. The purpose of the cy pres doctrine (pronounced sigh pray by modern legal scholars), is to allow a trust to exist long after the person who formed the trust has died. It does this by allowing courts to alter a charitable trust when its primary purpose becomes impossible, impracticable or illegal.

Can probate be avoided with a trust?

If you are approaching the process of estate planning, you may have a wide range of questions. However, finding answers and making sure that you pinpoint the course of action that will protect your estate properly is vital. From trusts to wills, you may have various choices in front of you. Whether you live in Middlesex, or another part of Massachusetts, trusts may offer certain advantages that you should look into. For example, a trust may help your estate stay out of probate, which could be very helpful for your loved ones in the future.

According to the Massachusetts Judicial Branch, decedents who set up trusts are sometimes able to have their assets avoid the probate process. By avoiding probate, there are different advantages that those involved with the estate may find helpful. For example, a notable amount of money and time may be saved. Moreover, those who are concerned about privacy may appreciate the lack of publicity that can come with a trust.

Estate taxes and planning ahead

Whether you have a will or are thinking about setting up a trust, you may have many different types of estate-related considerations. However, you should definitely look into estate taxes if you have a high net worth, or think your financial situation may result in estate taxes. At Curley Law Firm, we know how stressful these issues can be for people who live in Middlesex, and across the whole state of Massachusetts. However, planning ahead with regard to estate taxes can be very beneficial.

If you have made significant lifetime gifts, or have an estate worth over $1 million, your estate may be taxed when it is handed over to beneficiaries. By taking the smartest approach, you may be able to lower the amount of estate taxes your loved ones will be responsible for paying after you have passed away. Not only will your loved ones possibly appreciate the consideration you give these issues by paying fewer taxes, but you may also find some peace of mind knowing that you have carefully looked into this aspect of your estate.

The cy pres doctrine may allow changes to your charitable trust

When you have spent your life in Massachusetts carefully managing your assets and planning for the future, you want to know that your intentions are carried out after your death. Setting up a trust to support a charity or charitable purpose should ensure that your passions continue to benefit from your donations. At Curley Law Firm LLP, we often explain how your charitable trust may fare in the years to come.

According to the National Paralegal College, if you intend for your financial support to go to a cause rather than a specific charity, it will not matter if the circumstances change. The cy pres doctrine allows a judge to reroute the funds so that they serve the same purpose as your original designation, or as close as possible to that purpose. On the other hand, if you do name an organization or cause and make it clear that you have specific intent, changes could result in the disbursement of the assets in your trust to your successors in interest.

Retirement planning is more than just about money

To most people, estate planning is about planning for their financial futures. However, a comprehensive estate plan involves more than just putting money in a 401(k) or drafting a will. It encompasses all of the things needed to help a person enjoy their retirement. As such, future retirees will need some assistance planning for the non-financial aspects or retirement. This post will identify some of these elements.

Medical care – Aside from your health premiums, choosing a medical practitioner is an important, non-financial decision. It is helpful to keep someone you feel comfortable with, and who you trust with personal information about your health.

Your spouse may not be a beneficiary of your premarital will

Modifying your will after major life changes is the best way to make sure your Massachusetts estate is distributed according to your wishes. However, if you have married since you wrote the will and you did not make updates, your spouse may still receive a portion of the inheritance. We at the Curley Law Firm have often advised clients on how assets may be allocated when a will has not been adjusted to reflect the current family situation.

The Massachusetts Legislature explains that if your will predates your marriage to your new spouse, the portion of your assets that you allotted to your children remains the same. However, if you have named beneficiaries in your will who are not your descendants, that portion of your estate would be treated as if you had not had a will at all. Instead, your spouse would receive the portion of that remainder that would have been distributed to him or her as an intestate share.