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Wakefield Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Is setting up a special needs trust difficult?

When you have a person in your family with special needs, you may be wondering what needs to be done so that you can set up a trust fund on his or her behalf. Your choosing to be proactive in starting a fund in Massachusetts will help provide stability and comfort for your loved one in the event you become unable to care for him or her. 

Working with a professional to establish a trust fund is often a crucial and helpful step. A person with experience in developing, maintaining and overseeing estate planning of various types, can provide you with helpful insight about which step to complete first in your effort to start a trust fund. They can also help you analyze your lifestyle and that of your family member with special needs to assess how to customize the trust to make it optimally beneficial. 

Does Massachusetts allow oral wills?

If you want to create a will, it is essential to make sure you follow the rules of your state. Massachusetts law has several requirements that you must follow to ensure your will is valid. In the vast majority of cases, you must write and sign your will and get witnesses to sign it as well. However, there are certain situations in which you may make a nuncupative (oral) will.

According to FindLaw, you may make an oral will if you are a service member in the armed forces or a mariner and you are in "actual service." This means that in order for your oral will to be valid, you must be serving active duty or at sea when you create it. In such a circumstance, you could make your wishes known by speaking them out loud to a witness.

Estate planning for your blended family

Like many other people in Massachusetts, you are beginning to think about your future and are interested in creating an estate plan that conforms to the needs of your family. However, your family has a unique dynamic in that it is blended. At Curley Law Firm LLP, we are experienced in helping families of all different backgrounds to develop a beneficial estate plan.

While you and your spouse have worked hard to make your blended family a rewarding and happy group of relationships, its unique setup may require you to take a different approach to plan your estate. Your efforts to clarify all applicable details while you are still living can reduce a great deal of stress, confusion and contention among your children following your death. An invaluable way to verify that you and your spouse share a mutual understanding of how your will should be written is for you to communicate regularly with each other. Where appropriate, involve your children and disclose to them applicable details about your plan. 

Tackling estate plans with Medicaid planning in mind: Part 1

When it comes to estate planning in Massachusetts, many people do not craft their arrangements with Medicaid in mind. This is often due to overlooking potential long-term care needs, not knowing the eligibility rules or little to no knowledge about the benefits that the government program offers to help seniors manage their long-term care costs. Whether you are in the process of finalizing your end-of-life documents or have yet to start them, you should not overlook the importance of including estate plan provisions that allow you to take advantage of Medicaid long-term care benefits should you need them. 

Your assets and need to preserve the family dynamic may compel you to focus more on the kind of instructions you want to leave behind for your family and loved ones after you die. Part of successful estate planning is for you to consider all possible contingencies. Death is not the only reason why you should seek to protect your estate. Unexpected medical expenses and long-term care costs can diminish it and rob your beneficiaries of their inheritance. Here is why you should consider incorporating Medicaid planning into your estate plans

Keeping your family informed about your estate plan

Even though your estate plan is centered on your desires and how you would like your life's accomplishments to be distributed, you are not the only person who your plan will affect. At Curley Law Firm LLP, we have significant experience helping people in Massachusetts to create a customized estate plan. 

An important part of developing a plan for your future is regularly revisiting your plan to make sure that it is updated and addresses the changes that have taken place within your life and family structure. Significant life events that could affect the condition of your plan include divorce, births, adoptions or marriage. Taking note of these changes and seeing that they are reflected in your legal documents can give you peace of mind knowing that despite your life's evolvement, your plan remains current and legitimate. 

What is a health proxy?

There are certain laws in Massachusetts that allow each individual adult to make his or her own healthcare decisions. However, there may be circumstances in which people are unable to make or communicate what they would like. A health proxy can help in these situations.

According to Massachusetts Health Decisions, a health proxy is a legal document that names an agent to make medical decisions in the event someone is unable to do so. This proxy only allows the agent to make decisions once a doctor states in writing that the patient cannot make the necessary decisions. Until then, the patient is still fully in charge of healthcare choices. The patient can also cancel a health proxy or rename the agent at any time.

Estate planning and the emotional impact on a family

Aside from a loved one passing away or possibly the divorce process, estate planning issues can be one of the most emotionally intense topics for families. In some instances, the emotional impact of an estate plan can be very difficult for certain family members, whether they become angry with their family member’s decisions. On the other hand, setting up an estate plan can also be a major source of relief and a cause for celebration for an entire family. Those who are creating or making revisions to an estate plan should consider the emotional impact that their decisions may have on their family members.

Sometimes, key decisions regarding a will or a trust can generate stress for an entire family. People may be able to bypass these hurdles by preparing carefully and ensuring that they have taken various factors into consideration before moving forward, but there are times when estate planning inevitably leads to hard feelings and anxiety. It is crucial to be ready for these potential difficulties, and some people may want to wait until the right time to set up their estate plan (such as waiting until a new job begins, or a family has finished moving into a new home).

Conflict in the family and your estate plan

For a lot of people, creating an estate plan (or making important revisions) can be tough for a number of reasons. In some instances, there are other difficulties which make the estate planning process more complex, such as conflict in the family. For example, siblings may be involved in a heated, long-term rivalry, and your estate plan could be at the heart of the dispute. Or, you may be unsure of how to address these conflicts with respect to your estate plan, whether you are unsure of how to distribute your assets or who to leave in charge of your estate.

Sometimes, family conflict may prompt someone to make key changes to their estate plan. For example, they may decide to remove a beneficiary from their estate plan, or they may find that it is necessary to name someone else as the executor. It is important for people to focus on reducing tensions in the family when setting up their estate plan, but conflict cannot always be avoided and it is vital to do what is best, even if it does not make everyone happy.

3 myths about estate plans

Everyone benefits from having an estate plan. It gives you relief as you think about distributing your assets and provides guidance for your heirs. But setting up documents regarding your finances and health can seem daunting. 

However, many things that make estate planning confusing are myths or misconceptions. There are so many popular ideas about estate planning that are actually false. Here are some common misunderstandings about estate plans to stop believing. 

Terminal illness and estate planning

Some people set up an estate plan when they are in good health and are not aware of any major health concerns. However, others may decide to create a will or a trust when they discover that they have a terminal illness. Whether someone is diagnosed with late-stage cancer or another illness that threatens their life, this can be an overwhelming and emotionally devastating position to be in. People struggling with a terminal illness may have many questions and a lot of uncertainty about their future, their assets and how this illness will affect those they love. Fortunately, estate plans can offer peace of mind and security.

If you are struggling with a terminal illness, it is crucial to look into your estate planning options and protect your assets promptly. You should try to stay positive, although our law firm knows how difficult that can be. Some people have been able to live much longer than expected and estate plans can be very helpful in these circumstances as well. After all, knowing that your estate will be taken care of in the event that something happens can allow people who are suffering to focus on other responsibilities and aspects of life.