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Waltham, Massachusetts Estate Planning Blog

Advance care planning in Massachusetts: The key documents

  • 20
  • February
    2015

When most people hear the term “getting your affairs in order” they think about creating a plan for what should happen with their estate after they are gone. But another very important situation to plan for is if a medical crisis leaves you too sick to make your own health care decisions.

Would you want your loved ones to guess, and potentially fight, over what you would want? Or would it be better to clearly state your wishes through advance care planning? Most would agree that the latter is the much better option for all involved.

Have you had 'the talk' with your heirs?

  • 12
  • February
    2015

If you are someone with significant assets to pass down to your children or grandchildren, you might be reluctant to talk to your heirs about the inheritances they will be receiving.

People have many reasons for wanting to avoid the “inheritance talk” with their offspring, such as the belief that discussing an inheritance is taboo or not wanting their children or grandchildren to depend on the money; however, wealth experts say that this can be a costly mistake.

Steps to take after a loved one passes away

  • 05
  • February
    2015

Losing a loved one is perhaps the hardest thing a person can go through in life. Not only do you have to deal with your own emotions and the emotions of your family members, you also have to attend to the overwhelming responsibility of getting your loved one's final affairs in order.

To help family members through this difficult time, the AARP put together a long and thorough checklist of tasks that need to be taken care of, and the best order to follow. This post will discuss the first few steps that need to be taken care of immediately.

What are slayer statutes?

  • 28
  • January
    2015

Slayer statutes are laws that block a person from receiving an inheritance when that person murders whom he or she stands to inherit from. The laws also set out what should happen to the planned estate distribution in this event.

Slayer statutes have been in the news recently after a New York man was accused of murdering his father, whom he stood to inherit a third of a million-dollar estate from. Hedge fund founder Thomas Gilbert Sr. was shot and killed in his Manhattan apartment on Jan. 4, and his 30-year-old son, Thomas Gilbert Jr., was arrested and charged with the murder shortly thereafter. 

Two actors whose deaths revealed grave estate planning errors

  • 23
  • January
    2015

The rich and famous have access to the best lawyers in the country, so it always comes as a surprise when celebrities end up having error-ridden estate plans. Here are two recent examples of this:

When Robin Williams passed away in August, he left behind three children. Williams’ estate plan included a trust for his three children, in effort to make sure that what he left for them and other sensitive information remained private. 

Why you should revisit your estate plan

  • 15
  • January
    2015

If you have already have an estate plan in place, that’s great. It means you have taken the time out of your busy life to plan for something we would all rather not think about: our eventual death. However, if it has been a few years since you put your estate plan in place, it might be time to revisit it.

That’s because your estate plan isn’t made to stand the test of time. Changes within your life and changes within the law can mean that your estate plan no longer works as you intended, and your carefully thought-out strategy can be completely derailed.

Here are a few examples of how that can happen.

Five financial issues to address in your estate plan

  • 07
  • January
    2015

Many people mistakenly believe that a will is all they need in their estate plan. However, there are many other issues that need to be addressed in order to make sure that you maximize the assets that you will pass down to your chosen beneficiaries.

Here is a brief overview of five issues that need to be considered to help you meet your estate planning goals:

Your will. A will is needed to make sure that your assets are transferred to the people or entities that you wish. Without a will your assets will transfer according to your state’s intestacy laws, which are applied when a person dies without a will.

Providing for a disabled family member easier with ABLE Act

  • 02
  • January
    2015

Special needs trusts are now not the only way assets can be saved for a disabled beneficiary while allowing the beneficiary to remain eligible for government assistance programs such as Social Security and Medicaid.

Last month, President Obama signed the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act into law, making it possible for individuals with disabilities to open special accounts where they can save up to $100,000 without the threat of losing eligibility for needs-based assistance programs.

The National Down Syndrome Society said the ABLE Act is the first time Congress has recognized through public policy the extra significant financial burdens individuals with disabilities face. 

What is probate and how do you avoid it?

  • 18
  • December
    2014

In the estate planning world, probate is sometimes referred to as a necessary evil. While the process can be long and costly, it is sometimes needed to make sure that an estate is divided how the decedent intended.

Essentially, probate manages the transferring of a person’s property upon his or her death according to the person’s last will and testament. But before the assets can be distributed, all of the assets have to be collected and certain debts have to paid off.  Any disputes that arise also have to be settled. 

How reproductive technology complicates the meaning of 'heir'

  • 11
  • December
    2014

In estate planning, we talk a lot about heirs. That’s because a huge part of estate planning has to do with establishing who will inherit a person’s assets upon his or her death and how those assets will be passed down from there.  

Decades ago, defining a person’s heirs was easy. Legally speaking, an “heir” refers to parties who will inherit based on the rules of descent and distribution. Historically, these individuals have been genetically, biologically or legally related to the person creating the estate plan -- such as children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so on.

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