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Waltham Legal Issues Blog

Considering pets when estate planning

Many Massachusetts residents have pets that they consider part of their family. Some may love their pets as much as their children, and others may only have pets to dote on. Whatever the case, most pet owners do not want anything negative to happen to their animals, which is why it is important to consider them when estate planning.

If a person becomes incapacitated or passes away, the risk exists that the pet's care could be left up to chance. If loved ones cannot care for the animal, it could be sent to a shelter or end up being put down. Fortunately, owners can account for their pets' care by setting up a trust that provides funds and instructions for the pets' future care. Certainly, pet care can be expensive, but a person may be better able to care for the pet with funds left behind from the estate.

Can the same person take on important roles during probate?

Getting one's final wishes in order can be a difficult but important task to complete. During this time, Massachusetts residents will not only need to think about their plans themselves but also about how those plans will be executed during the probate process. Because the person planning will not be around to see those instructions carried out, it is important to name trustworthy and responsible individuals to important roles.

Two important roles to consider when estate planning are the executor and trustee, if one is using a trust. The people appointed to these roles have different responsibilities as the executor will oversee the administration of the entire estate and the trustee will manage the trust to which he or she is named. In some cases, individuals prefer to name the same person as both executor and trustee, which can have its benefits.

Don’t forget these 3 important items in your will

An estate plan has so many components that sometimes it can be hard to keep track of every important element. Smaller details can easily slip your mind, especially if there are more pressing matters to focus on. When creating your will, however, it’s important that you think of all possible provisions so that your family can avoid disputes, fights and tension when it comes time to distribute your estate.

Here are just three important things to remember to include in your will.

Prenuptial agreements do not have to be signed on the first draft

Getting married is a major life event. Though many couples do not stay married for the rest of their lives, many Massachusetts residents do have that intention when they tie the knot. Still, because divorce is a possibility, considering prenuptial agreements is not a bad idea.

Of course, it is important that both parties involved understand and agree to the terms of a prenup. While an ideal situation would involve a discussion of using this agreement and moving forward from there, that is not always how it gets brought up. In some scenarios, one party may already have a prenup drafted and simply present it to the other party. While this is certainly one way to go about it, it is important to remember that the person receiving the document is not obligated to sign it as is.

What happens when a beneficiary dies during probate?

Handling the final affairs of an estate can have its complications. Even if certain aspects seem straightforward, events could transpire that make the process more difficult. For instance, if a beneficiary dies before receiving an inheritance from a Massachusetts estate already in probate, that matter may seem complicated to address.

If a beneficiary does pass before the probate process of an estate is completed, the inheritance may pass on to that beneficiary's estate. If the deceased beneficiary had a surviving spouse, the assets may pass directly to that person. However, in other scenarios, the inheritance may pass to the beneficiary's estate and then have to go through probate to determine to whom the inheritance passes to next. If the beneficiary had created an estate plan of his or her own, the information in that plan may help determine what happens to the inheritance.

A small business needs to know resources and stay on top of costs

There comes a point in many people's lives when they are ready to start a new venture. For some Massachusetts residents, that venture may be to start a small business. The decision could come about for many reasons, but if parties want to do their best to get their companies off the ground, they need to know where to start.

First, individuals may want to go over the resources they have for getting their business off the ground. Some entrepreneurs may need to utilize certain services that help aspects of their businesses run more smoothly, such as hiring outside help to answer customer calls or having specific help for running payroll. By understanding the resources available, many new business owners may relieve themselves of some of the burdens that could quickly cause them to feel overwhelmed.

Prenuptial agreements can benefit both parties in a marriage

Getting married is an event that many Massachusetts residents look forward to. They may anticipate many happy years with their spouse and think about starting a family. Of course, there is a chance that hopes and dreams for the future will not work out as desired, and having prenuptial agreements in place may be wise.

It is not unusual for individuals to skip this part of marriage preparation. Some people may think that bringing up a prenuptial agreement means that their future spouse will think they have no confidence in the relationship. However, a prenup can act as a safeguard in the event of divorce, but it does not necessarily mean that a relationship will inevitably come to an end.

Knowing the options with a durable power of attorney

There may be a multitude of scenarios in which a person in Massachusetts or elsewhere could become incapable of making important decisions in life. Those who wish to plan for the possibility of sudden incapacitation could find it helpful to explore the potential benefits of a power of attorney. One such option includes creating a durable power of attorney and having a similar strategy in place could prove beneficial in various ways.

A durable power of attorney is a document in which the grantor gives another person the power to make decisions on his or her behalf. With a durable power of attorney, the agent may retain the power to act on behalf of the grantor in the event of incapacitation. There are several ways in which a durable power of attorney can be cancelled and there are also a variety of options to help ensure the arrangement meets the wishes of the grantor.

Making changes to an estate plan after a divorce

Going through the end of a marriage can be a stressful experience that could bring about a variety of changes in life. Individuals in Massachusetts to encounter a similar circumstances in life may wish to take every possible measure to protect their futures, but with a multitude of topics to address, knowing the necessary steps to take could seem intimidating. Those who experience a similar life change may find it helpful to consider reviewing their estate plans and making the necessary modifications to keep their plans in line with their current preferences.

After going through a divorce, there are a variety of estate planning topics a person may need to address. For instance, reviewing and updating information on health care directives could be essential to ensuring one's needs are provided for should the unthinkable occur. In addition, updating power of attorney information may also be vital to ensuring one's assets and finances remain protected.

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