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Wakefield Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

What are the two types of guardianship?

Sometimes situations may arise for you, as a parent in Massachusetts, which prevent you from taking care of your child. When such circumstances arise, the court intervenes in order to place your child in the care of a competent guardian as long as is necessary, whether it be on a short-term basis or until the child comes of age. 

According to FindLaw, some guardianships are temporary, meaning that the court grants them for only a certain amount of time and terminates the guardianship upon accomplishing its specific purpose. One type of temporary guardianship is an emergency guardianship, which the courts grant only for very short periods of time, perhaps only a matter of days, in order to deal with an urgent situation. The court may grant a temporary guardianship over a minor child but may also appoint a guardian for an adult who becomes temporarily incapacitated and unable to make decisions due to a debilitating disease, mental disability or addiction. 

Millennials: estate planning is for you

If you are like many people under the age of 40 in Massachusetts, you might think that a will or a trust is not something you need to think about at this point in your life. This belief is not actually wise or accurate for a couple of reasons. First, people can and do die at ages younger than what most consider to be a normal lifespan. A premature death can be caused by either an accident or an illness. Additionally, estate planning can help you take care of yourself, your estate and your family if you are still alive but become unable to manage your affairs on your own.

As explained by NerdWallet, estate plans do more than simply identify who gets what from your estate after you die. They can identify who will be able to make health care decisions for you if you are not able to do so for yourself. A power of attorney may also allow another person to manage your finances if you are in a condition that prevents you from taking care of such things even temporarily.

3 tips for discussing estate plans with family

The holiday season is upon us, which means it is time for family gatherings. This is the perfect opportunity to discuss your estate plan with your family members. While it may not seem like the merriest issue to talk about, it can be beneficial for your whole family to have this discussion. 

However, you may have some concerns and anxieties about bringing this topic up at a holiday gathering. You can ease your worries by doing some preparation. Here is how to broach the subject of estate planning with your loved ones over a holiday feast.

Discussing estate taxes with family members

Estate planning brings up diverse issues for people to consider whether they set up a trust or a will. Naming beneficiaries, the likelihood of a probate dispute and even figuring out which estate plan makes the most sense are all challenges that some people have faced. However, you may also want to talk to your loved ones about various tax issues related to your estate plan. This is a critical aspect of estate planning that should not be overlooked since the tax implications of an estate plan can be significant.

It could be helpful to talk with some of your loved ones about this topic. For example, if you plan on leaving some of your family members with a significant amount of property, you could help them by reviewing what their future tax obligations may be and going over this issue. Depending on your individual situation, some estate planning options may make more sense than others and you might want to discuss this with your beneficiaries or the person who you have decided will be in charge of your estate after you pass on.

Setting up a joint will

Estate planning brings up a number of considerations, such as deciding which beneficiaries will receive certain assets. Moreover, some people may have difficulty determining which type of estate plan is best and we have written about some of their options on our blog. In this post, we will look into joint wills and some of the reasons why this option can be advantageous. As with any kind of estate plan, it is crucial to carefully go over the ins and outs of a joint will before you move forward.

So, what does a joint will entail? Joint wills are executed by two or more people. Often, a married couple will set up a joint will together. When one person passes away, the other person who is still alive will inherit the whole estate. For example, if a husband and wife have a joint will and the husband passes away, his wife will inherit their estate. In the event that the other person passes away, the estate will often go to the children, for example.

Discrepancies on tax filings may apply longer than realized

Estate planning is a complex process and can take time for families in Massachusetts to narrow down their desires and figure out how to articulate them in a well-written document. However, with vigilance and commitment, families that prioritize their planning efforts and involve the people they love can prepare for their future and eliminate some of the debilitating stresses that others may face in critical moments due to lack of planning. 

One aspect of dealing with a loved one's death that can be challenging at times for unsuspecting family members is dealing with the deceased person's tax issues. Highlighted in recent press releases are the estate fraud allegations facing the Trump family in regards to taxes that were not adequately paid in years past. In response to such allegations, people are asking the question, "How long can the IRS look into a person's past for fraudulent tax activity?" The truth is, the IRS can look back 3 years, but this number can expand to 6 years under many conditions. 

Tax-related profits are only part of the reward of an estate plan

Planning an estate may seem unimportant to people who are young, have a stable income, are healthy and do not have any significant obligations to dependents. However, waiting too long to plan for the future can be more damaging than many people realize and create stress, contention, and disappointment in a person's later years. The more proactive people are about planning their estate in Massachusetts, they may be able to set the foundation for a lifetime of preparation that will ultimately make the end of their life more enjoyable and more rewarding. 

Perhaps the most advertised benefit of having an estate plan is the tax benefits it provides to policyholders. However, while tax benefits are incredibly helpful to have, they are indeed not the only reason why having an estate plan is so important. For example, people that develop a well-written plan earlier in their life can avoid unwanted publicity in delegating their assets at the end of their life. Instead, the details of their estate will remain private and only be disclosed to the heirs named on the plan. 

Is a revocable living trust right for you?

If taking care of your family after you die is a priority, you may be wondering if a living trust or a will is better in Massachusetts. Choosing the right estate planning tool typically depends on your particular concerns, and what you want to accomplish.

An irrevocable trust requires that all of your property be turned over to the trust and the trustee. This is permanent and cannot be reversed. A revocable trust can be changed at a later point if needed. According to The Balance, this type of estate planning tool has a significant advantage over a will.

Estate Planning and Contingencies: 3 Scenarios to Consider

You’ve worked hard for what you’ve got, and you don’t like the thought of your assets being distributed improperly. Your wishes are important, and you dread the thought of your family having to go through a hardship to receive what should be rightfully theirs. There are a few ways you can help fine-tune your estate planning to make it harder for unexpected situations to arise before and after your death.

1. Always Have Contingency Heirs

What is intestate succession in Massachusetts?

The underlying questions demonstrating the need for estate planning is "What happens if I die without a will?" You may think that if you leave nothing behind stating how you want your assets to be dispersed, your family and friends in Wakefield may be allowed to make such a decision themselves. Unfortunately, that is not the case. If you die without a will, then your estate is considered to be "intestate." The guidelines for dispersing such estates are left for the state to determine. 

Section 2-102 of Massachusetts' General Laws states that in the event your estate is intestate, your surviving spouse is entitled to its entirety if you have no surviving parents or other descendants, or those descedants that do survive you are also descedents of your spouse (and he or she does not have any other descedants not related to you). If your parents are still alive, your spouse inherits the first $200,000 of your estate, and then 3/4 of the remaining amount. If any of your descendants are not the direct descedants of your spouse, then your spouse receives the first $100,000 of the estate as well as 1/2 of its remaining value. The same is true is your spouse has a surviving descendent that is not directly related to you.