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Wakefield Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

When problems arise with beneficiaries

If you are creating an estate plan, many hurdles may come up. However, handling challenges that involve beneficiaries can be especially difficult. Whether you are having a hard time naming beneficiaries and are not sure how to divide your assets or an argument arises over decisions you have made involving your will or trust, our law office is all too familiar with the different hurdles that people across Massachusetts sometimes have to work through when they are setting up an estate plan.

Discussing these matters with your loved ones can be helpful, although it is not always a good idea to go over your estate plan with beneficiaries. Decisions involving the distribution of assets can lead to hostility between siblings and other family members. That said, you should never feel as if you are forced to act against your wishes.

Divorce and your estate plan

Many different life changes can have an impact on your estate plan, such as the loss of a loved one or significant financial changes. However, divorce is an especially difficult issue for many people to work through, especially with regard to their estate plan. Ending your marriage can affect your life in all sorts of ways, whether you find yourself in a child custody dispute or are unsure of how property will be divided between you and your spouse. To make things more complicated, some people are unsure of which changes they should make to their estate plan, whether they have a trust or will.

First of all, it is essential to do your best to set negative divorce-related emotions aside, as tough as that may be. You should approach your estate plan from an individualized standpoint and make sure that you modify your estate plan in a manner which benefits you and your loved ones the most. If you split up with your former spouse, you may want to remove them from the estate plan. If you have given your ex-spouse power of attorney, you may wish to remove this designation and find someone else who can take on these responsibilities. In some instances, people even remove children as beneficiaries after a divorce.

Taking a look at express trusts

With trusts, there are many different types of terms that you may need to familiarize yourself with. For example, you may want to find out more about the differences between revocable and irrevocable trusts or go over some of your different options. However, it may also be helpful for you to examine how express trusts and non-express trusts differ. Across the state of Massachusetts, it is important for those creating a trust to develop a clearer understanding of the trust-related issues they are facing.

Express trusts are designed in express terms and involve a settlor creating a trust in which they are designated the trustee or someone else is appointed as the trustee. Settlors are abke to use express trusts to transfer their assets to trustees and private express trusts are a very common type of trust. Setting up a private express trust can be an excellent way for a settlor to ensure that the property they own will be distributed to their loved ones appropriately once they pass away.

Setting up a special needs trust

Legal issues related to trusts take many forms, whether you are in the process of setting up an estate plan or are having trouble naming beneficiaries. Moreover, there are all sorts of different trusts that people create and our law office knows how crucial it is for people in Wakefield and across all of Massachusetts to move forward with these matters properly. If you are considering creating a special needs trust for a beneficiary who is mentally ill or disabled, you should find answers to any questions that you have.

Typically, special needs trusts will carry on until the beneficiary passes away or the trust's assets have been expunged. If you have a loved one with special needs, setting up this type of trust could benefit them tremendously. It is important to try to take care of family members and loved ones when possible, but you should also make sure that you have gone over the ins and outs of a special needs trust or another type of trust thoroughly. Sometimes, people have misconceptions or areas of misunderstanding with regard to trusts and this can lead to unintended negative consequences.

LGBT couples face many challenges in estate planning

Same-sex couples have faced a myriad of challenges through the decades, and one of them includes estate planning.

One would think that the U.S. Supreme Court's monumental decision in 2015 that legalized same-sex unions would have clarified some matters in this area.

What should I know about formal probate petitions?

When it comes to probate, a plethora of questions may be on your mind and you may need to focus on various facets of the law. For example, many people move forward with filing an informal probate petition, while formal probate is necessary for others. Moreover, you may need to take a different approach depending on whether your loved one died with a will or without a will. If you are filing a formal probate petition, there are a number of pointers that may be helpful for you to go over.

Often, probate issues require multiple court hearings in front of a judge, according to the state of Massachusetts. You should also be aware of the filing fees, which are $375 for every probate petition filing in Massachusetts. Moreover, there is a $15 fee for a formal probate citation and a $15 formal probate surcharge fee as well. Before a formal probate petition is allowed, a publication notice and written notice are required. You will also need to complete various forms and provide the death certificate or an affidavit if the death certificate is not available.

Will the new tax bill keep me from paying estate taxes?

On December 20, Congressional Republicans passed tax reform and President Donald Trump signed it into law two days later.

This tax bill underwent many changes in its journey to passage. For instance, at one point the estate tax was going to be eliminated. At another point, it was not.

5 essentials of estate planning

Let's put this right out there: You don't have to be wealthy to need estate planning. You may still have your home and vehicles, retirement accounts, bank and investment accounts, jewelry and family heirlooms, to list a few. The estate plan determines what will happen to these assets in the event of your untimely demise. And since we all must "demise" some day, putting a plan in place is common sense.

Estate planning goals

The breach of fiduciary duties

Many probate issues can complicate life for beneficiaries and executors alike, but allegations that an executor has breached their fiduciary duties are very serious. Some of the time, these accusations are true and an executor did fail to respect his or her fiduciary duties. For example, an executor may have intentionally chosen not to distribute the assets of an estate appropriately. On the other hand, there are times when these allegations are altogether false, whether a beneficiary does not understand what was put forth in the estate plan or intentionally launches a false accusation. Curley Law Firm knows how hard these standoffs can be for both sides and the impact these disputes can have on families.

If you have been accused of breaching your fiduciary duties as an estate's executor, you need to do what you can to review your legal rights and make sure that your interests are secured. At the same time, if you believe that an executor has failed to abide by their duties, you may want to examine your options. Either way, you should be mindful of some of the other hurdles that can arise with these types of disputes. In some cases, they have created a lasting rift between family members.