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Massachusetts Estate Planning Law Blog

Important points for retirement and estate planning

The mantra of investment commercials focuses on preparing baby boomers who are close to retirement age with the wisdom and knowledge to retire with enough income to enjoy the good life. Indeed, limiting risk is just as important to retirement planning as it is to estate planning. Because of this, there are several things that soon-to-be retirees should keep in mind as you plan for the next stage of your life.

Know about your pension benefits – It is important to understand the different ways that you may receive a pension. Believe it or not, there can be up to 10 ways to take advantage of your benefits. This would require a conversation with a human resources director or benefits specialist to learn what would be best for you.

Can you pass on your values with a trust?

Obviously, a trust is a way to pass money and assets on to your heirs. However, that's just one of the things you're interested in giving your children. You're also hoping to pass on your values, molding your kids into the type of people you want them to be. Can a trust be used to do this as well?

In some ways, that's exactly what an incentive trust does. It gives you the ability to set up any incentives that you want -- within reason, of course, as things that are illegal or outlandish may not be upheld. The trust only pays if the children meet those goals.

Should you put funeral instructions in a will?

You have an idea of what you want your funeral to be like. Maybe it's just a general overall structure, or maybe you have the specifics planned out right down to who should speak and what time of the day the funeral should take place.

Either way, you may be considering just adding your funeral instructions to your will. After all, your will is a legally binding documents, so, unless the instructions include something illegal, you know they'll be followed and your funeral will look just the way you planned.

Why to consider a life insurance trust

When you bought your life insurance policy, it was with your children in mind. You wanted to be sure that they would have their needs met, even if you and your income were gone. You didn't want a car accident or some other sudden tragedy to leave them with nothing.

Now, one option that you have is to set them up as the beneficiaries when you buy the policy. This way, the insurance company just pays them the money upon your passing.

What is a pour-over will?

A pour-over will is something you may want to use if you're going to use a living trust. It helps to move your assets when you pass away so that your wishes are followed.

Essentially, the pour-over will takes any assets that you did not move to the trust while you were alive and it transfers them over. It's sometimes described as a safety net, transferring assets that you may have forgotten or that you simply did not have time to move due to an unexpected passing.

3 questions to ask as your parents age

Your parents are growing older. While it can be uncomfortable to talk about end-of-life situations, you know that it's important to do in time. What are some important questions to ask?

First, do you know what type of life support and end-of-life care your parents would prefer? Some people want all possible medical treatments, hoping for a recovery. Others never want to be put on life support, not wanting to drag things out and rack up medical costs. Every situation is different and people can choose whatever is best for them, but it's important for you to know what your parents desire.

How fast a trust has to be distributed

A loved one passed away, leaving behind assets in a trust. The idea here is that one person will administer the trust -- perhaps a sibling of yours -- and give the proper assets to the other family members.

The problem is that you feel like it's taking too long. There's no movement or progress. You think that the other person may actually be dragging his or her feet intentionally to keep from passing along the assets.

Why do people get cut out of wills?

Being cut out of a will can happen for a variety of reasons, and every situation is different. A parent may be unhappy with a child's life choices or may simply have fallen out of touch with that child. As varied as family life is from one family to the next, so are the reasons for disinheriting a child. However, there are three big reasons that some experts have noted:

1. Fear that money will be wasted.

Motivating heirs with an incentive trust

You want to leave money to your children, but the sheer amount of wealth is potentially problematic. You're going to leave them enough that they could each just live off of the trust. You're worried that such a windfall might kill their motivation. You want to help them, financially speaking, but you don't want to hold them back in other ways.

One option you have is to consider an incentive trust. The goals and incentives that are built into it ensure that they only get your money if they stay motivated.

Should you put your dog in your will?

As you create your will, you have a lot to think about. You need to consider all of your children, their children, your spouse, and exactly what you want to have done with major assets like the family home. As you do all of this, should you spend some time considering your dog? Does he need to be included in the will?

While what you do with your beloved pet is up to you, some strongly suggest adding your wishes to the will. This way, you know your pet will be loved and cared for after you are gone.

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