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Boston Elder Law Blog

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.

Health care planning now can make things easier on family members

Whether it is something people want to think about or not, everyone gets older and, at some point, may need frequent or even daily medical care. If plans are not put in place, finding the right care and paying for it may be a significant burden to ones family members. For residents of Massachusetts, health care planning now can make things easier on loved ones in the future.

With advances in medical technology, people are living longer now than ever before -- which is considered a good thing. At the same time, quality of life is not always the best in one's advancing years. This means that more people are requiring assistance for their medical needs and to perform simple daily tasks. However, such care -- if provided by professionals -- does not come cheap.

Massachusetts probate process: What is informal probate?

In Massachusetts, there are three different forms of probate that may be used when closing out a loved one's estate. These are informal, formal and late and limited. This week, this column will work to address the informal probate process and what it entails.

When one thinks about probate, the word time comes to mind. Probate, generally, takes quite a bit of time to complete -- months or even years. Informal probate is different, however.

Massachusetts estate planning: Why wills matter

The estate planning process is something many people put off doing. It is believed that half of all Americans do not have wills. It is understandable. No one really wants to think about their own death or the death of a spouse or other loved one. However, for those residing in Massachusetts and elsewhere, failing to at least have a will in place will only hurt loved ones in the end.

Why do wills matter? Well, a will is a legal document that allows one to express his or her final wishes. It allows one to have a say in how assets are to be divided among those designated as heirs, thereby helping to prevent family arguments. Most importantly, it is a way to make sure loved ones are taken care of financially and physically in the event of one's death.

How can one appoint a guardian for his or her minor children?

For young parents in Massachusetts and elsewhere who are going through the estate planning process, trying to decide who will care for young children in the event of their deaths or incapacitation can be challenging. As difficult as it may be, appointing a guardian for minor children really is a must. This column will address how this can be done and what should be considered before making the ultimate decision.

No one wants to think about not being around to or capable of caring for his or her children. Unfortunately, no one can predict the future. Having a plan in place can help avoid problems later.

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