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Boston Elder Law Blog

Revocable trust, other options may be of use in Massachuestts

Asset protection is often important to many Massachusetts residents. Because they likely have worked long and hard to obtain their property, money and other assets, it is common for concerns to arise when it comes to the distribution of that property after death. Luckily, creating a revocable trust or other type of trust account could help individuals address their concerns. 

A revocable trust, also known as a living trust, can help protect property from going through the probate process. As a result, family members may be able to save time and money when it comes to addressing the estate, and personal affairs are kept out of the public record as trusts are private accounts. Additionally, having a trust could potentially reduce the likelihood of family squabbles over inheritances. 

Estate administration complications may hit Fernandez estate

When an individual leaves behind an estate and did not create a will, the surviving family may have many responsibilities. Often, loved ones will want to take steps to ensure that the estate administration process is handled in a manner befitting their late family member. However, without the direct wishes of the deceased being known, issues could arise. 

The estate of late professional baseball pitcher Jose Fernandez may be of interest to Massachusetts residents. The late player died last year at the age of 24 after being involved in a boating accident. Because his estate was left without a will, his mother is hoping to gain control of the $3 million estate and recently filed a motion with the court. 

Estate planning can reduce your loss to estate taxes

One of the most commonly overlooked aspects of estate planning is the impact of estate taxes. Most people with sizable assets understand how critical a last will and estate plan are. Failing to create them during your healthy, younger years could result in the government seizing your estate after you die.

Far fewer people consider the very real impact of estate taxes on their last will and the loved ones they are leaving behind. For those with large estates and a history of generosity toward those who will inherit from their estate, estate taxes could consume a sizable portion of the estate they leave when they pass.

Planning for the probate process may help lessen stress

In the time following the death of a loved one, many Massachusetts residents may have many questions about the estate their loved one left behind. In the best case scenario, the deceased individual will have already created an estate plan for the benefit of surviving loved ones. Additionally, these plans may help those left behind determine whether the estate must go through the probate process

If individuals want to ensure that their surviving loved ones do not face unnecessary complications, they may want to work on their estate plans. By assessing their estates, they may be able to determine whether they would like to take steps to avoid probate or if probate proceedings may suit their cases. Though some individuals may think the process should be avoided, probate could effectively address the issues of the estate. 

Prince's estate still in the probate process, IRS getting a lot

Music icon Prince passed away in 2015 and left behind a large estate. Unfortunately, his failure to have a solid estate plan means that any potential beneficiaries will be walking away with far less than they could have. Prince's estate is still in the probate process, and this could take several years to sort out. What is clear, however, is that the IRS will be walking away with a lot due to a lack of asset protections. Massachusetts residents, regardless of the sizes of their estates, can learn from this the importance of estate planning.

According to the laws of the state in which Prince lived, as he was single and did not have any children -- that he was aware of -- his estate is to be distributed to his siblings. To date, numerous claims have been made against the estate. Tax claims are among them.

Estate and inheritance taxes on assets can be significant

There is a saying about death and taxes being the only things that are certain in this world. Sadly, it is very true. Taxes do not end at one's death either, as beneficiaries may have to deal with paying inheritance and estate taxes on anything that is passed on to them. Gifting property or other significant assets to beneficiaries is done with love and good intentions; however, if certain precautions are not taken when setting up an estate plan, whether one resides in Massachusetts or elsewhere, those items which are intended to be gifts may end up being more of a burden.

Thankfully, in the state of Massachusetts, most estates are not considered taxable. State law requires that an estate or asset be valued at over $1 million before it is taxable. Those that are taxable are subject to a tax of 15 to 25 percent, which is not a small chunk of change.

For full asset protection, updating estate plans is necessary

Those in Massachusetts who have taken the time to create estate plans can rest a little easier knowing they have taken a positive step toward protecting their loved ones and their assets. This is not always a simple task to accomplish. However, it is important to remember that, in order to maintain full asset protection, updates to estate plans may be necessary.

Many individuals want to believe that creating an estate plan is a one and done deal. Depending on one's age or date of death or incapacitation when it is completed, that may be true. However, for those who complete estate plans earlier on in their adult lives, a lot of things can change.

Estate planning as a retiree: Consider each type of trust

Have you finally decided to hang up your work boots once and for all? If so, you know that your life is going to change in many ways. In particular, your financial situation will never be the same.

As a retiree, there will come a time when you want to review your estate plan. Even if you created an estate plan in the past, it doesn't necessarily mean that it still suits your every want and need.

Massachusetts probate process part 2: What is formal probate?

In a previous article this column discussed one of the three different types of probate offered in the state of Massachusetts -- informal probate. This week's column will continue the probate topic, only this time focusing on formal probate litigation. As is true with anything, knowledge is power. Those who understand how the probate process works can have an easier time getting through it when called upon to administer a loved one's estate.

Unlike informal probate which is handled by a magistrate, formal probate hearings occur in court before a judge. If there is not a valid will, the judge will get to decide how an estate is ultimately administered. The formal probate process may take a number of hearings before it is complete. It all depends on the complexity of the estate.

Don't wait to do estate planning for family and asset protection

Estate planning is something most people seem to think should be done later in life. Why would a fairly young person need or want to plan for incapacitation or death, right? Well, the truth is that estate planning for family and asset protection is not something that one should delay. There are plenty of reasons why Massachusetts residents may want to consider creating an estate plan now.

One of the top reasons to consider creating an estate plan is one's children. Even if one is just starting to build a family, taking care of them in the event of one's death or incapacitation is likely a top priority. In order to do this, though, it is important to get all of the legal ducks in a row. Certain documents must be filled out and signed, a guardian should probably be named and how assets are to be passed to children or used for their growth and development must be carefully outlined.