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Massachusetts Estate Planning Law Blog

Do you need a special needs trust?

Parents of children with physical or mental disabilities often worry about what will happen to their children after they pass on. As it is the natural order that most parents predecease their children, this is a very valid concern.

Parents can put their minds at rest and secure their disabled children's futures with a special needs trust. Designed for those who are incapable of managing their own financial affairs, these trusts are managed by trustees for the beneficiaries.

It matters a great deal who is chosen to administer your estate

When it comes to choosing the executor for your will, it's important to realize that not everyone in your life will be temperamentally fit for the responsibility. While many — if not most — estates can be satisfactorily handled by laypersons with no formal legal training, there are some qualities estate administrators should possess, including:

-- Being dependable

Does your estate plan include your black sheep heir?

When parents have a substantial estate to leave to their heirs, they quite naturally want to structure their estate so that it isn't squandered. Sometimes this can be difficult when one or more of the children is financially irresponsible or somewhat of a "black sheep."

Parents' perceptions of their adult children's lifestyles are highly subjective, however. A child could be cast out of the family for something as banal as marrying someone of another race or faith. But other times, the rifts may run much deeper and be driven by unchecked substance abuse or a criminal lifestyle.

The different types of powers of attorney

This post will examine the different types of powers of attorney that clients may wish to include with their estate planning documents.

Powers of attorney allow another person, who is known as your attorney-in-fact, to act in your stead as a fiduciary of you, the principal.

I don't have kids, so why do I need an estate plan?

One of the biggest misconceptions about estate planning is that unless you have children or other heirs, you don't need to worry about your estate. But even if your estate is relatively modest, consisting only of personal items and a couple bank accounts, you still want that to go to the person or organization of your choice rather than the state, don't you?

The primary estate planning documents to address are powers of attorney and health care directives, which should be part of any estate plan, along with a last will and testament. With small, simple estates, this may be all that you will need.

How are charitable donations here in the U.S. changing?

The Chronicle of Philanthropy, an independent news organization dedicated to covering all things charitable, recently released its annual report outlining the state of charitable giving here in the U.S. and ranking the nation's top 400 charities in terms of total private contributions.

According to the report, not only did private donations to the nation's top 400 charities increase by 7 percent in 2015, but for the first time ever, an entity known as a donor-advised fund occupied the top spot by taking in over $4.6 billion.

Mark your calendars, National Estate Planning Awareness Week is coming

While most people associate October with everything from Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Healthy Lung Month to Columbus Day and, of course, Halloween, it's important not to overlook other important and valuable events taking place during the course of these 31 days.

For example, were you aware that next week is National Estate Planning Awareness Week? Indeed, this has been an annual occurrence since 2008 when it was granted legal recognition by the passage of H. Res. 1499 by 50 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

What are the advantages of a living will?

Whether based on a traumatic personal experience or a fear of the unknown, many people find the prospect of planning for an incapacitating or potentially deadly injury or illness to be a highly unappealing endeavor.

While this makes sense, it's important to understand that this is actually a vital element of estate planning, as no one's plan for the future can truly be called complete until he or she has taken steps to execute the advance care directive known as a living will.

Why the execution of a simple will might be 'simpler' than you think

From the mistaken belief that estate planning is reserved for the very wealthy to general unease over the prospect of addressing the topic of death, there are multiple reasons why people choose to forgo the advantages of creating a comprehensive estate plan or even executing a simple will.

Indeed, when it comes to this latter legal instrument, many people consciously avoid it over concerns that it involves an extremely complex process necessitating the investment of considerable time, money and energy.

What happens when you die without a will in Massachusetts? - III

While our blog always makes a point to highlight the importance of estate planning, we took a slightly different approach this past summer by exploring how Massachusetts' intestate distribution scheme works. Specifically, the intention was to demonstrate how inaction in this area could result in hard-earned assets being divided among family members you perhaps wouldn't have chosen -- or even the Commonwealth.

To that end, we examined intestate property distribution in which the surviving spouse is the only heir and intestate property distribution in which the surviving spouse is not the only heir. We'll conclude this discussion in today's post, examining property distribution in which there is no surviving spouse.   

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