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Boston Elder Law Blog

Could an irrevocable trust have a place in your estate plan?

Trying to decide which estate planning tools will work best for your estate can be difficult. Numerous options exist, and you may wonder whether some could even apply to your particular circumstances. True, not everyone needs to utilize every planning tool available, but it is still wise to explore your options to find the best fit for your needs and goals.

For instance, you may not think that an irrevocable trust would play a part in your estate plan. However, you may not fully understand how it works or the benefits using this type of trust could have.

What is the role of your successor trustee?

Answering that question could help you choose who you would like to fulfill that role. When you started estate planning, you probably discovered that having a revocable living trust would greatly benefit you and your family. You serve as the trustee and still use and control your assets, which includes putting assets in and taking them out when necessary.

The question then becomes what happens after you pass away? You will need to appoint a successor trustee to take over the administration of your trust. You may want to know more about what he or she will need to do in order to successfully undertake this task.

Are you hoping to stay home as you age?

You love your home. It is where you made many memories with your spouse and children. You look around at the furniture, decorations, photographs on the wall and trinkets sitting around, and you feel comfortable and safe.

If it is your hope to remain in your home as long as possible as you age, you have a lot of planning to do. Once you reach the age of 65, your chances of requiring hospitalization or medical care for a chronic or terminal illness increase substantially. Even if you believe it is better for you to remain in your home than to live your elder years in a nursing home, you should examine all your options.

4 steps to keep your assets in the family

If you have high-value assets, you may be concerned about what will happen to them upon your death. Most people want to pass on their hard work and good fortune to their loved ones. Here are four steps that position your assets, so they may be passed down to your loved ones, or whoever you choose.

  1. Make a will. The first step in ensuring your family receives your assets is to make a will. Your will documents who you would like to receive which assets.
  2. Name a beneficiary. Name one or multiple beneficiaries for your will, trust(s), or life insurance policy. Make sure you include all of your assets when naming beneficiaries.
  3. Set up a trust fund. A trust fund is usually a combination of stocks, bonds, cash, real estate, business holdings, paintings, cars, antiques, or other assets. It combines one or more of these assets into a single document for a beneficiary. A will explains how you want your assets distributed and a trust fund ensures that they are distributed according to your wishes.
  4. Gift your money. One of the easiest ways to ensure your money goes to the person of your choosing is to simply give it to them. The IRS allows gifts of up to $14,000 per person per year. Gifting your money allows you to give money to your loved ones, tax-free before you die.

How can a trust elevate my estate plan?

If you are ready to consider how you want to distribute your estate after your death, you may be thinking of the simplest plan, which is writing a will. A will seems straightforward and flexible. You name your heirs and what they will inherit, and you name an executor to handle your estate.

As long as you follow Massachusetts law and have the appropriate signatures from witnesses, your will is likely to hold up through the probate process. However, there are some drawbacks to using a will as the only element of your estate plan, especially for those you leave behind. Because of this, many investigate the benefits of a revocable trust.

What is a Rogers Guardianship for extraordinary treatment?

Most guardianship hearings focus on whether to allow a guardian to make ordinary personal and medical decisions. How does the court make guardianship decisions if the adult needs someone to make extraordinary medical decisions?

In Massachusetts, those hearings are called Rogers Guardianship hearings, named after the 1983 decision Rogers v. Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health.

How are a health care proxy and a living will different?

Estate planning documents guide not only what happens after you pass on, but also direct what occurs if you become incapacitated. Though it is unpleasant to imagine such scenarios, it is far worse to wind up in such a situation with no plans made to handle it.

You probably have heard of a health care proxy and a living will, but you may not know the difference. Here is what you need to know about these two important documents.