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Estate planning is essential to asset protection

Even if many Massachusetts residents have estate plans, that does not mean that all of their assets will pass to loved ones in accordance with their wishes. Even so, having an estate plan is better than not having one at all, since estate planning is essential to asset protection. Some people might be surprised to know that state law can dictate where some or all of a person's assets will go after death -- even if an estate plan is in place.

Not having an estate plan at all means that assets will pass in accordance with Massachusetts' laws of intestacy. Laws also dictate that some assets, such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts, pass to beneficiaries in accordance with designations on file for the accounts, regardless of what the account holders' wills and/or trusts might say. Therefore, it is imperative not only to have an estate plan in place but also to review it occasionally to ensure that it still reflects current wishes.

Many people find that discussing their own deaths is not a pleasant topic of conversation with their estate-planning attorneys, let alone with family members. However, this discussion is an important part of the process. Some family members might argue over money, but far more arguments break out over personal items. Having a discussion regarding the disposition of these items prior to death could save surviving family members from conflict later.

Asset protection is a primary concern for many Massachusetts residents since they want to make sure that their families are provided for after their deaths. This requires not only creating an estate plan, but the proper identification of each asset and an understanding of how it will be passed to another person. Once all of the relevant questions are answered and the proper documentation is in place, the whole family can have peace of mind from knowing that a plan is place.

Source: lacrossetribune.com, "Talk about estate planning and inheritance wishes", Ryan Henry, May 5, 2016

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