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Wakefield Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

How do you prepare for Alzheimer's?

Doctors still do not have a complete understanding of many diseases and conditions that lead to mental impairment. Until these situations are preventable or completely treatable, it makes sense to include the possibility in your estate planning documents.

If you think of estate plans is only providing for your family after you were gone, there is more to them than you might expect. Many people in Massachusetts use various estate planning tools to make sure that their wishes are carried out throughout your life and into posterity. This includes the possibility of degenerative mental conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease. Please read on for a brief overview of topics in this area.

Do you really need a will?

Like many Massachusetts residents, you may have a happy, unfussy life. It may include a spouse, children and possibly grandchildren in a simple familial situation. You may have uncomplicated financial assets and a home or even two. As a result of this straightforward situation, you may be wondering whether you need to have a will or whether your property can just pass to your surviving relatives. 

According to The Boston Globe, it is vital to have a will because otherwise your estate gets divided according to a fixed equation of proportions and amounts. This may not seem problematic when you are planning to divide your estate equally among your children anyway. However, there are many nuances that need to be considered when doing your estate planning that make a will a necessity.

Revoking a will in Massachusetts

Estate planning experts recommend that Wakefield residents create a will and other important estate instruments early on in their adult lives. Yet having said this, it is also recognized that much can change over the course of one's life, and that their desires and wishes when they die may not be the same as those they held when they first created their wills. If you or a loved one are concerned about making changes to already-documented estate plans (and how those changes should be properly communicated to those who are party to the estate), not to worry; many have come to us here at the Curley Law Firm LLP with the same questions. 

The answer depends on the unique circumstances of your case. Per Section 2-507 of Massachusett's General Laws, a subsequent will is said to have invalidated either certain terms of the entirety of an earlier one if you (or your loved one) include language expressly stating that. If you (or loved one) does not include such language, then the court will look at the scope of the subsequent will. If it addresses the entire disposition of the estate, then it is viewed as replacing the earlier will. If it does not, then the court will only consider those terms that run contrary to points addressed in the initial will. 

Is updating your estate plan on your list of things to do?

Like so many people, you may have created your estate plan documents, then put them away in a safe place. That was so long ago you may have forgotten just what you did with them.

In that case, the time has come to find and review those documents. No doubt a lot has happened in your life since you put them away, and you need an update to reflect the changes.

Preparing your health care proxy to act on your behalf

As a part of creating an estate plan for your future in Massachusetts, you have selected someone to act as a health care proxy on your behalf. Considerable time and thought have been taken in your effort to choose someone who you trust to make the types of decisions that you would want to be made if you are ever incapacitated. At Curley Law Firm LLP, we have experience helping people coordinate a customized estate plan that coordinates with their personal needs and desires. 

Choosing someone to act as a health care proxy on your behalf is only the beginning of your efforts in this endeavor. From here, it is essential that you provide adequate information about your desires for medical treatment, as well as any potential health issues you may encounter, to help him or her to be confident in the responsibilities you have asked them to undertake. Your ability to effectively dictate your desires is also critical to your proxy's being able to act with confidence and authority when it is required that he or she stand in on important decisions related to your health and well-being. 

Being informative may prevent inheritance disputes in your family

When you start the process of organizing the plan for your future and how you will distribute your estate to your surviving family members, your first concern may not be telling your family the details of what you are doing. However, your willingness to be open about your intentions may have quite an impact on preventing disagreements between your family after your death. AT Curley Law Firm LLP, we are experienced in helping families in Massachusetts with estate planning. 

Approaching the topic of dying someday and how you wish to have your estate distributed may be a sensitive topic for those close to you. Going about it in an appropriate manner with respect and genuine care can help you send a message of love and hope despite the heaviness of the topic. Being forthright in discussing your plans and your final wishes are imperative to your family's ability to cope and feel confident that they know exactly what you would have wanted when the time comes that you pass away. 

What is the estate tax threshold in Massachusetts?

Especially when it comes to larger inheritances, valuation has the potential to be one of the most important steps when distributing an estate. That is because Massachusetts has an estate tax.

Your loved one probably intended for the estate to go to the heirs, and not to experience undue tax burden in the process. You could potentially help ensure this by categorizing all of the assets correctly.

Creating a trust can pave a smoother path for heirs

Creating an estate plan now can help ease your family's pain after you pass. Failing to decide how you want your affairs handled upon your death may lead to years of fighting and difficulties for those you left behind.

Attorneys who handle estate plans have many tools at their disposal for giving your heirs the best possible shot at a smooth transition. One of these is by setting up a trust. The unique features this option offers may help you and your heirs for years to come.

Examining the problems that are addressed during probate

When people have an inadequate estate plan in Massachusetts, their case may be turned over to a probate court where officials will determine what will become of their remaining assets. Depending on the size of the deceased's estate, probate could be costly and time-consuming. People can avoid having to resort to probate by determining that they have clearly written and legally signed plans for what will happen when they pass away. 

There are several problems that the intervention of probate could provide solutions to. Often, the process is begun by determining how much the deceased person's valuables are worth. Items such as properties, vehicles and family heirlooms are appraised to learn their value. Probate will also address the maintenance of financial records including paying off outstanding debts, closing existing bank accounts and verifying that all tax payments are updated and finalized. 

Can I put out-of-state property in a Massachusetts will?

If your family is from a state other than Massachusetts, or if you simply like to get away from it all every once in a while, you may have out-of-state real estate in the form of a vacation property, condo, timeshares and so on. These and other types of out-of-state property could trigger a process known as ancillary probate.

Generally speaking, probate courts handle the distribution of your wealth to your heirs. The main case would probably be in the state where you were legally residing, with other courts taking up issues of property in their respective jurisdictions. Please continue reading for some details and options regarding this issue.