Albanese Law, LLC
call to schedule an appointment or House Call
Local: 617.379.0022
Toll Free: 866.591.4451

Boston Elder Law Blog

Adult children need to discuss estate planning with parents

Massachusetts residents are living longer now than ever before. This could mean that the possibility of some older people becoming incapacitated is a real concern. Adult children may want to discuss estate planning with their parents in order to ensure that a plan is in place just in case.

Once an elderly parent's health is on the decline, it might be too late to prepare for an easy transition for an adult child to take over making financial and healthcare decisions on behalf of his or her parent or parents. It may be difficult to bring up money and the possibility of incapacitation with a parent. However, it is the first step toward ensuring that a parent is taken care of as he or she ages.

Powers of attorney essential in long term care planning

There are two components of estate planning -- documents that cover what will happen after death, and those that cover incapacitation. Massachusetts residents who are conducting long term care planning also benefit from including health care powers of attorney, advanced directives and durable powers of attorney. As the name implies, a health care power of attorney allows an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf under certain conditions. An advance directive lets you make choices regarding end-of-life treatment. A durable power of attorney, on the other hand, allows the agent to make financial decisions for you.

If you become incapacitated, several things will occur. First, someone will need to arrange for your care, which includes making medical decisions and arranging payment of your bills -- including medical bills -- to be paid, among other things. An advance directive is a starting point for your health care proxy. Without this document, your loved ones may not know what life saving and/or extending measures you do or do not want.

How important are wills for Massachusetts single parents?

Undoubtedly, being a single parent is a challenge. Most Massachusetts residents dedicate their lives to raising their children the best they can. However, some may neglect to do even the most basic estate planning. Without wills, single parents may be leaving the fate of their children in the hands of the courts.

It does not matter how much money a person has when it comes to estate planning. It is about ensuring that the person or persons chosen by him or her inherit an individual's assets -- whatever they may be. More importantly for a single parent, however, could be the appointment of a guardian -- a trusted individual who will take care of his or her children if the worst happens and he or she passes away.

The role of estate administration in a wrongful death claim

By now, most Massachusetts residents are aware that the circumstances surrounding Joan Rivers' death may be suspect. For this reason, Rivers' daughter, Melissa Rivers, has retained counsel to file a medical malpractice claim against the party or parties believed responsible for her mother's death. The way that Joan Rivers structured her estate plan, estate administration should not have been necessary. However, now that a lawsuit regarding her death is being initiated, it is required.

Of course, the most important evidence in any medical malpractice case may be the medical records. Many people may not realize that the executor of the decedent's estate is the only one who can obtain those records. This means that even if it was not previously necessary to go through the probate process, applicable federal and state laws concerning the confidentiality of medical records require an executor to be appointed to represent the estate.

Long-term health care planning can give peace of mind

Partly through the miracle of modern medicine, people are living longer. This means that long-term health care planning becomes an important focus for Massachusetts residents as they age. Many older people spend their last years in nursing homes, their own homes or long-term care facilities.

These facilities provide the medical monitoring and assistance that family members may not be able to provide. Even staying at home could require the assistance of a medical professional who comes into the home. Sometimes, family members can provide the funds needed to provide the best care possible for a loved one, but they may not be able to do so for as long as may be needed. How an individual spends his or her last days can largely depend on the funds he or she has available.

Massachusetts 30-somethings need wills and related documents

By the time an individual reaches his or her 30s, he or she may be contemplating settling down or may have already done so. He or she may be comfortable at work, buying a home and getting married and having children. What many Massachusetts 30-somethings do not have, however, are wills and other estate planning documents.

A perception still exists that only older people who are nearing or in retirement need to worry about planning for their deaths. The opposite may actually be more accurate since someone in his or her 30s is more likely to have minor children to take care of than someone closer to retirement age. Without an estate plan, the fate of any minor children could be left to the state of Massachusetts along with the disposition of assets.

What is an executor's role in estate administration?

When Massachusetts residents are creating their estate plans, one of the most important decisions they have to make is who to appoint as the executor of their estate.  In making this crucial choice, it may be helpful to understand the role that an executor plays in estate administration.  Here is an overview of an executor's responsibilities.

The first thing an executor will need to do is locate the decedent's will and file a petition with the court to begin the probate.  Once the will is admitted to probate and the executor is formally appointed by the court, he or she will need to locate all of the assets owned by the decedent at the time of death.  Once located, he or she must keep them safe and manage them until they are distributed in accordance with the will. 

Discussing powers of attorney and end-of-life choices with family

Nearly every estate plan needs to include not only documents that will deal with the distribution of a Massachusetts resident's property after death, but also documents that become effective if he or she becomes incapacitated. This includes powers of attorney for both financial and health care issues, along with advance directives. Without these instructions and the appointment of someone to make decisions on his or her behalf, an individual's family could end up in a costly and time-consuming legal battle.

Before executing a health care power of attorney, it may be beneficial to consult with the person or persons an individual wants to appoint. If someone does not feel comfortable making those decisions, another person needs to be consulted. For some people, dealing with a loved one's incapacitation is enough, and attempting to add the responsibility of making life and death medical decisions may be too much. 

Wills take care of Massachusetts families after death

Massachusetts residents often spend their lives taking care of their families.  However, only a percentage of people make plans for after they pass away.  Wills provide a vehicle for individuals to support their families after death.

Without at least a will, the state may have to determine how an individual's assets will be distributed, which may not be to the same person or persons that he or she would have liked.  In fact, if a Massachusetts resident is involved in a long term relationship, but not married, his or her assets typically go to family members instead of the person with whom he or she was residing.  Further, anyone with minor children who does not have a will could end up leaving the fate of his or her children to the courts.

The first order of business in estate planning

Many Massachusetts residents think about what will happen to their assets when they pass away.  However, it is just as important to think about how those assets will serve a person while he or she is still alive.  This is why the first order of business in estate planning is to determine just what an individual's estate is worth.

Since Americans are living longer, they need access to their assets for a longer period of time in order to provide for their care as they age.  Without an understanding of what those costs may be, it can be difficult to create a plan.  Therefore, the first step is to gather documentation regarding every asset and liability a person has in order to determine his or her net worth.

Our Offices