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Massachusetts Estate Planning Law Blog

Your rights when it comes to inheritance law

Survivors have certain rights to a family member's property after they have passed away, and these rights are governed by inheritance law. Going by this law differs from state to state, but you may be able to claim inheritance from your spouse, regardless of what has been written in their will. This right depends on whether the state follows community property law or common law.

In Massachusetts, common law is followed, therefore this article will be focused on how common law governs in regards to inheritance rights.

Should I fund a spendthrift trust for my adult son or daughter?

Parents who have the means to leave significant portions of their estate to their adult children are sometimes stymied by those very heirs when it comes to structuring the assets.

For instance, a parent with three grown children may desire to leave the same amounts to each child. Two of the three are responsible, hard-working and fiscally conservative with funds. The third struggles to maintain steady employment, has had a few brushes with the law and filed twice for Chapter 7 bankruptcy over the past few decades.

Complying with an audit from the IRS

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) occasionally runs audits on tax payers to make sure that they are processing all of their revenue and taxes properly. This can be a stressful process to go through, and can be avoided by completing a thorough and computer-processed tax return.

The blog will act as a brief overview into how to attempt to avoid an audit, and if audited, how best to comply with an audit from the IRS.

Tips on signing a will securely

When completing a will, it is important to first ensure that you have abided by all of the content rules that your state requires. Once you have completed a valid last will and testament, the final and most vital step is to ensure that you have signed it securely and properly.

This blog will serve as a brief overview on the correct way to sign a will.

Married couples: Remember the small things in your will

When most people sit down to make a will, they think of the big items: the home, the bank account, the investment portfolios, the life insurance policies. They may be more prone to forget about the small things.

Big items are important and should certainly be considered. However, if you pass away before your spouse, provisions may already be in place to help with the transfer.

Don't only consider health when thinking about advance directives

An advance directive can tell your children what you want them to do in terms of medical care. You can also set up a medical power of attorney, giving a child the power to make those decisions for you.

Many people just think about their current health. If you're very healthy and have no long-term issues, it's easy to assume that you don't need an advance directive. You can make your own medical decisions, so why tell the kids what you want them to do? Can't you just do that when you're older?

1 great tip for breaking the ice on estate planning

Did you know that roughly 50 percent of people in the United States have not done enough estate planning to even have a will? These people all know that they'll need one eventually, but they simply haven't drafted and filed one.

This is something people often put off because it means having a conversation with loved ones about death, a very sensitive subject. They may not want to bring it up with an elderly spouse, for instance, or may not want to sit down and talk to the kids about their own passing. It can feel awkward and troubling.

What tasks does a financial agent carry out?

Using a financial power of attorney, you essentially make someone else your financial agent. This gives them legal power to handle your money. They're obligated to work toward your best interests, but they do things that you can't realistically do for yourself at your age.

What all this includes can be different in every case, but a few examples are as follows:

A trust could help your child with a grandparent's money

A grandparent leaves money to one of your children. The child is only 10, so you're named as a guardian. Essentially, the money is under your control until the child is no longer a minor.

However, you're worried about what could happen down the line. Is your child the type of person who tends to blow through money quickly? Though the child is technically an adult at 18, are you concerned that handing the full sum to an 18-year-old means it won't be spent wisely?

A judge can alter strange requests in your will

If you're thinking of putting some rather strange requests in your will, it is worth noting that a judge may be able to alter them if your heirs mount a legal challenge.

For example, a woman who was a hotel owner and a real estate investor left $5M for her heirs, who were grandsons, as her own son -- their father -- had passed away. She said in her will that they had to go to his grave and pay their respects annually to get the money.

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