Estate planning is an area of legal practice that focuses on planning for the administration and distribution of a client’s estate. However, estate planning can also incorporate other equally important areas of need. This need may encompass both inter vivos and testimentary financial planning, estate and income tax reduction, preservation of family business interests, charitable objectives, and planning for contingencies in which you made need another person to take care of your healthcare or financial responsibilities during your lifetime. Contact our estate planning attorney today to discuss or review your plans.
A Will is a formal document that when duly executed will provide the court with guidance as to how to carry out the testamentary wishes of the decedent. While a significant portion of most individual estates will not flow through the will, any assets not flowing directly to another individual either by joint tenancy, tenants by the entirety, beneficiary designations and revocable wills provisions are encompassed within the probate of the will. The will is an important document which will outline the manner in which tangible personal property, Real Property and the Residue of the estate will flow pursuant to the decedent’s wishes. Read More.
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone you choose the power to act in your place. In case you ever become mentally incapacitated, you’ll need what are known as “durable” powers of attorney for medical care and finances. This durable power creates an agency relationship pursuant to which the person holding the power, the attorney-in-fact, is able to act on behalf of the person giving the power, the principal. The durable power shall survive the principal’s incapacity should that event occur. Read More.
Health Care Proxy
Pursuant to G. L. c. 201D, one competent adult can appoint another as his or her “health care agent” by executing a health care proxy. The statute requires that the health care proxy be in writing and signed by the principal in the presence of two other adults who witness the execution and attest to the principal’s competency at the time of signing. The person named as the health care proxy has authority to act only after the principal is determined by the treating physician to lack the capacity to make his or her own health care decisions. Once that determination has been made, the health care agent has the authority to make any and all health care decisions that the principal could make for himself or herself, subject to any expressed limitations contained in the health care proxy. Read More.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA, was created in 1996 by the US Congress to protect the privacy of your health information. The act prohibits your health care providers from releasing your health care information unless you have provided your health care provider with a HIPAA release form.
Unless you have provided a signed release form, your health care providers are prohibited from discussing any aspect of your medical information with anyone who is not directly involved in your care.
Integrally important in today’s estate plan is a digital asset release. This need for this release may be incorporate ownership of digital pictures, music, messages, e-books, movies, websites, online and other information. While Massachusetts currently incorporates digital assets within the context of the decedent’s estate, you may need the assistance of a specified fiduciary to manage those online assets. Read More.
A revocable trust is a trust whereby provisions can be altered or canceled dependent on the grantor. During the life of the trust, income earned is distributed to the grantor, and only after death does property transfer to the beneficiaries. Also referred to as a “revocable living trust”.
The use of a revocable trust rather than a trust under the will is often preferred for a number of reasons. The trust may be funded during the grantor’s life, if the grantor wishes assistance with the management of his or her assets or with record keeping. The trustees will then perform these functions without eliminating the grantor’s ability to retain ultimate responsibility for and oversight of the management of the trust. The grantor can see the trustees “in action” and decide whether he or she has selected the proper trustees to meet the needs of the grantor and the grantor’s family.
The use of a revocable trust rather than a trust under the will also avoids having the trust provisions, the trust’s assets, and the trust’s subsequent administration be a matter of public record since neither the trust instrument nor the trust accounts need be filed with the probate court.