Wills, Trusts, Health-Care Proxies, Durable Powers of Attorney, & Living Wills
Most people are aware that they need a will, however, about 70% of us–don’t have one. People put it off for many reasons, but it’s important to know that writing a will is usually not complicated or expensive. Once it’s done, you can rest a little easier, knowing that your wishes will be followed after your death. If you don’t make a will or use some legal method to transfer your assets when you die, Massachusetts law will determine what happens to your property. Your property will be distributed to your spouse and children or, if you have neither, to other relatives according to a predetermined legal formula. If no relatives can be found to inherit your property, it will go to the state.
A trust is a legal entity created by a grantor in which “title” to the property is vested in a trustee, but the benefits of ownership are enjoyed by another person- the beneficiary. The trust imposes fiduciary obligations on the trustee to act to the benefit of the beneficiary. Generally the trustee must manage the trusts assets and income for the economic benefit of the beneficiaries. Trusts may be revocable (also known as living trusts) in which the creator retains the right to alter, amend or revoke trust. Irrevocable trusts cannot be altered and usually are created at death.
A Health Care Proxy is a written instruction by a person who appoints a Health Care Agent or Proxy Agent, to make medical or health care decisions when the person is incapacitated and unable to make or communicate such decisions.
A “Durable” Power of Attorney survives or continues to be in effect after the incapacity of the Principal (the person authorizing the power). Under a durable power of attorney, your Agent is authorized to make business and financial decisions in accordance with your wishes.
The complex and ever-evolving laws of Medicaid play an increasingly important role with respect to estate and long term care planning. The Office begins its representation of many clients with a comprehensive estate and long-term care planning evaluation. This evaluation dictates the best planning strategies to pursue in order to meet the estate planning and long-terms health care objectives of the client. Our attorneys examine all aspects of the client’s financial well-being and provide a written opinion letter which summarizes the client’s unique situation, reviews the law, and explains our recommendations for the best possible plan for the client.
Guardianships or Conservatorships for Elderly or Legally Incapacitated persons
The Office represents clients seeking guardianship and conservatorship of relatives who can no longer manage their personal or financial affairs. The office assists family members in fulfilling the duties imposed by these new roles. If no family member is willing or available to fill this role, our attorneys act as guardian or conservator on a temporary or permanent basis. Consultants such as geriatric case managers join the office’s team on an “as needed” basis. This expert team of professionals provides comprehensive monitoring of the ward’s medical, emotional, legal, and financial needs.
Protection of assets including The Family Home
For many people, the Family Home is their greatest, and most cherished asset. The Office is experienced in working with a wide variety of issues and solutions when it comes to preserving your family’s home. Some strategies that the firm utilizes include: transferring the home to the healthy spouse, obtaining private long-term care insurance, deeding the home to your heirs and retaining a life estate, and creating an irrevocable trust with a life estate.
Administration of Estates
The Office provides representation of fiduciaries administering estates. Probate administration includes filing the petition for appointment of the personal representative, preparing and filing the inventory of estate assets, paying decedent’s debts, distributing assets, filing tax returns, and filing an account with the Probate Court. The office guides the fiduciary while liquidating the estate such as in the sale of real property.
Special Needs Planning
The Office assists parents of children with disabilities with legal planning for their long-term needs. The office advises the parents or other family members of disabled persons on how they can effectively provide for the disabled person, with careful regard for preserving eligibility for public entitlement programs such as Medicaid and other public benefits. The Office provides information about planning options, drafts supplemental needs trusts and other documents as appropriate, and advises trustees of trusts for the benefit of disabled persons concerning trust administration.