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Massachusetts Estate Planning Law Blog

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.

Trends could change your estate planning

If you're thinking of simply leaving your possessions to your children, one thing to consider is the way current trends are going around the time you'll pass those items on. They could have a huge impact on whether or not the kids actually want the stuff you've accumulated.

Parents often assume that children will want their possessions. They imagine a dinning room table at their son's house or a set of dishes from their wedding going to their daughter. They think of their grandchildren sitting around on the same chairs from their living room, watching TV or reading books.

Do estate taxes target money that was already taxed?

One common complaint about estate taxes is that they simply target money that was already taxed at least once, as income.

For instance, perhaps you are an only child and you have one surviving parent: your father. He earns money, pays taxes to the government when he earns it, and then puts it aside. When he passes away, here comes the government to tax it again just because it's passing to you.

Why you may want a will at a young age

You're still young, and you don't anticipate using a will for decades. You're not even married yet, and you're still in college. Do you actually need a will?

When you decide to draft a will is up to you, but it's not wise to assume they're only needed by the elderly. Sadly, young people pass away every day due to disease, accidents, crime and many other things of that nature. You may want a will simply because you can't predict when that's going to happen to you.

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.

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