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Massachusetts Estate Planning Law Blog

Estate planning: Worrying about playing favorites might not help

Many individuals in Massachusetts and elsewhere may face a variety of difficult decisions while attempting to develop a strategy for the future. For parents who have multiple children, choosing who will manage their affairs when the time comes may seem an intimidating task. Those who wish to gain insight into how to make informed decisions about each of their estate planning options could benefit from seeking guidance from someone with experience in the area.

When it comes to choosing a person to manage one's estate, experts indicate that it might not always be possible, or even preferable to attempt to be equal. However, parents may worry that choosing one child to handle their affairs could leave others feeling left out or mistreated. Worrying that such a decision could create a rift among siblings could lead some parents into delaying the estate planning process or forgoing it altogether.

While having a will could be vital, is it always enough?

While many individuals in Massachusetts and elsewhere may feel it is vital to have a strategy in place for the future, they might not be always be aware of all their available estate planning options. Studies indicate that there are a multitude of individuals who do not have a plan in place, while others may be content with having only a will. While wills may play a vital role in the estate planning process, experts indicate that exploring the benefits of all available options could prove imperative.

There are a variety of potential benefits to drafting and executing a will. For instance, the terms of a will can provide guidelines for guardianship of minors and the division of assets. However, those who have concerns over how their loved ones will manage their assets may also find it helpful to consider the possible benefits of using a trust, as the terms of a will may have little to no influence over the spending habits of beneficiaries.

Addressing taxes during the estate planning process

Many individuals in Massachusetts and elsewhere may feel that one of the most intimidating aspects of planning an estate pertains to deciding how to distribute their assets. With a variety of options to explore, each of which may come with numerous potential issues to address, deciding on a path can seem a stressful endeavor. For instance, understanding the potential ramifications of taxes could prove vital to making informed choices during the estate planning process, as this knowledge could have a significant influence on the decisions a person makes.

One scenario in which having an understanding of the role taxes will play in asset distribution could prove vital pertains to a desire to leave assets to a charity. Experts indicate that those who wish to allocate funds to charity may often choose to list the organization as a beneficiary in a will or trust. However, they might not always leave terms as to the method in which they wish the donation to be made.

Trust: Being flexible when planning for the future

When forming a strategy for the future, many individuals in Massachusetts may feel it vital to ensure that they have the options to make changes to their plans should the need arise. Some may be hesitant to explore estate planning options out of fear that what they put in motion might be set in stone. By understanding how to help promote flexibility in options such as a trust, one might be able to overcome previous reservations and begin planning for what comes next with peace of mind.

When setting up a trust, those who wish to take a more flexible approach to the process could consider giving discretion to the trustee. With a discretionary trust, the trustor could give the trustee the power to make decisions pertaining to the distribution of assets within the trust. The trustor may also have the option of setting guidelines that the trustee must follow when making these decisions.

A prenup does not have to cause negative feelings

As you and your partner prepare for marriage, you probably have a list of things to complete before the big day. Signing a prenuptial agreement may not be on the list. Perhaps this is because you are confident that your marriage will stand the test of time, and you don't want to start your life together by deciding how you will divide your property if you divorce.

These are reasonable arguments, and it is common for engaged couples to resist the idea of a prenup because they don't want to taint the optimism of the moment. However, a prenuptial agreement can actually be a generous gift to your partner because it can provide protection and security against an uncertain future. It can also be a way to broach delicate and vital topics that couples just starting out are reluctant to discuss.

Knowing when to review estate planning documents

A change in circumstances can happen at any given moment and sometimes these changes can prompt a need to revisit one's plans for the future. Many individuals in Massachusetts may understand the importance of keeping estate planning information updated. However, knowing when it might be time to consider making changes to an estate plan can still be a challenging task.

There are a variety of scenarios in which it may become necessary to update one's estate plan. For instance, estate planning laws may vary in each state and moving to another area could prompt a need for modifications. Certain changes in life such as marriage and divorce can also create a scenario in which revisiting current estate planning documents and making changes based on current wishes is advisable.

Seeking advice on estate planning options for pets

Many individuals in Massachusetts and elsewhere may consider their dogs or cats as more than just pets and instead choose to treat them as members of the family. While many pet owners may wish to include their beloved pets in their plans for the future, they might be uncertain how best to achieve this goal. Fortunately, there are a variety of estate planning options that could help address one's wishes and preferences for extended family members.

According to experts, one option that might be worth considering pertains to including a beloved pet within the terms of a will. In a will, one may be able to choose a person to act as guardian for the pet in the event of an untimely death and provide this person with funds to help care for the pet. Prior to making a similar decision, a person could benefit from understanding that unlike other beneficiaries in a will, pets are typically treated as an asset instead of family members.

Estate planning: A strategy could provide peace of mind

The idea of looking to the future and considering how certain circumstances may unfold might seem an uncomfortable concept at best. Discussing what will happen when one passes on can be intimidating; unfortunately, death can happen at any given moment. By exploring all the available estate planning options, a person in Massachusetts may not only obtain insight into addressing certain issues and answering the necessary questions, but the process may also provide some peace of mind about the future.

There are a variety of estate planning options available, each of which may provide answers to one's questions about the future. For instance, all individuals may have their own preferences as to how they wish for their assets to be divided after death and exploring the available options can help them gain insight into making informed decisions. Certain estate planning options may also help provide one's assets with protection against creditors or minimize certain tax consequences for beneficiaries.

Estate planning: Outside pressure can alter one's decisions

When it comes to making important decisions, it might not be uncommon for individuals in Massachusetts and elsewhere to feel pressured into a certain course of action. While in some cases, this outside pressure might not have a significant impact on one's life, sometimes the influence of another party could have detrimental ramifications. With estate planning, those who experience undue influence could feel pressured into making decisions that do not align with their preferences and wishes for the future.

While studies indicate that similar concerns are more prevalent among seniors, undue influence can affect virtually anyone. Experts also indicate that individuals who are culpable of such behavior may be more prone to targeting those who are less capable of standing up for themselves. Those who are subjected to such treatment could feel pressured into making modifications to beneficiary information or into gifting away valuable possessions.

Knowing the differences between a living trust and a will

There are a variety of scenarios in life that may seem difficult to think about, let alone plan for. Once a person comes to grips with the idea of passing on and decides to implement a plan for the future, with a multitude of strategies to consider, he or she may find it difficult to distinguish between the options. For instance, some individuals in Massachusetts might not be aware of the differences between estate planning options such as a living trust and a will.

A living trust and a will are both estate planning options that pertain to the management and distribution of one's assets. However, there are a variety of differences between these two options and understanding these differences could prove vital to making informed choices. With a living trust, one may choose a trustee to manage certain assets while he or she is still alive and this estate planning option may also allow beneficiaries of the trust to avoid probate.

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