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Massachusetts Estate Planning Law Blog

What are health care proxies?

When people are writing their wills or living trusts, they are wise to think about any possible scenario that might arise after their death or during their lifetime when they might become incapacitated or of ill health. They naturally will want to prepare as much as possible for all scenarios, so that they can be in control of their future and the future of their assets.

In fulfilling this goal of preparing for the future, powers of attorney are created for the purpose of guaranteeing proper health care. These are often referred to as "health care proxies," "health care surrogates" and "durable medical powers of attorneys."

How tax audits work in Massachusetts

If you have recently inherited part of an estate, you may feel burdened with the prospect of filing your estate taxes for the first time. You might also be worried about the likelihood of an audit being done, and would like to be as prepared as possible. The good news is that as long as you follow the tax procedure in Massachusetts systematically and carefully, you have no reason to worry about a tax audit and its consequences.

It is highly unlikely that you will be selected for an audit if you have been consistent in the information that you have provided to the Department of Revenue (DOR). However, some tax returns are selected randomly, so being selected does not necessarily mean that you have done anything wrong in your return.

Should you fund a spendthrift trust for one of your heirs?

When parents and grandparents devise estate plans in order to leave their beneficiaries legacies, sometimes their estate planning attorneys may recommend establishing something called a spendthrift trust for one or more heirs. But what are these trusts, and for whom are they ideal?

Spendthrift trusts are handy deterrents that can save an heir from financial disaster. While not every heir will benefit from such a trust, the ones who need them in most cases need them desperately.

Can you avoid estate battles among family members?

When a loved one dies, family members don't always act rationally. This is especially true when the will is read and one or more members feel as though they did not receive what they perceived as their fair share of the estate or were passed over entirely.

What can be done to resolve acrimonious infighting over an estate? It helps to understand that the fight is not always about money or property. Sometimes those are only proxies for what the disinherited family member sees as a lifetime of being left out or treated shabbily.

What are powers of attorney?

The future is unpredictable. We don't know when something can happen that might incapacitate us from being able to make important governing decisions about our estate. But what is in our control now is the ability to put certain things in place so that if we were to die or become incapacitated, our estate and other practical matters would be put into the hands of a trusted person that will become an agent.

Legal documents that allow a person's wishes to be set down in this way is called a power of attorney (POA). This blog will provide a brief overview into how powers of attorney work, the different types and the uses that they have.

What are tax exemptions?

When planning your estate or considering whether to create a will or a living trust, it is important to consider whether you will be entitled to tax exemptions. Tax exemptions allow you to be able to lower the income that can be taxed, therefore increasing your pocketable income. Tax exemptions must be claimed, and you are generally able to claim them on your own behalf, but also on behalf of your spouse and any dependents that you have.

This blog will provide a brief overview on tax exemptions and how personal exemptions tend to differ from exemptions made on behalf of dependents.

Preparing for an efficient audit

When creating a retirement plan or a living trust, you must ensure that you are ready to have your tax return examined at any time. It's very important that you are prepared for this and you have the information that the auditors will require readily available.

This blog will provide a brief overview of some useful tips that will assist you if you are having your retirement plan or trust audited by the IRS.

What are testamentary and inter vivos trust funds?

Trust funds are a great way of compounding and building wealth in the long-term. There are two main types of trust funds, and it can sometimes be difficult to understand the differences between the two. These two types are testamentary trust funds, and living trusts. Living trusts are also commonly known as inter vivos funds, and that can lead to some confusion.

This blog will offer a brief walk-through of both testamentary and inter vivos trust funds, how they work and what the differences are.

What are powers of appointment?

In 1951, the Powers of Appointment Act was established. This was one of the greatest developments in the tax and estate planning sector. A power of appointment in broad terms means that a person has the power to dispose of a property, and they hold that power even if they do not own the property in question. This could be a "reserved" power or a "donated" power.

This blog will give a brief overview into what powers of appointment are and how they can be used to a person's benefit when estate planning.

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.

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