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Boston Elder Law Blog

How to include an art collection in an estate plan

Many adults visit art museums around the world and appreciate the beauty that artists offer through their work. However, very few people see the real value art can provide to society - and possibly your bank account.

Art collectors often study and closely follow artists to determine which pieces to purchase and how their acquisitions will appreciate over time. But some collectors overlook these high-value investments when establishing an estate.

Asset protection is a common and viable estate planning goal

It is common for Massachusetts residents and those elsewhere to form attachments to their property. They may want to keep certain assets for sentimental reasons or because they are valuable. In some cases, individuals want to protect their assets for future generations. When it comes to asset protection, having an estate plan is vital.

Individuals in this situation have already taken one of the first steps of estate planning, which involves identifying a goal. Asset protection is a common goal with which planning ahead can help. Of course, another important step is to identify assets and what needs protecting. This step may include reviewing property that is owned independently and jointly. It is also important not to forget monetary accounts or assets like life insurance policies.

Early distribution a mistake during estate administration

Being the executor of a Massachusetts estate is a major responsibility. This person will need to proficiently settle the estate's final affairs while also trying to mitigate the potential conflicts that could arise with surviving family members. Often, it is the assets that cause the most contention during estate administration.

It is not unusual for beneficiaries and other individuals to ask executors for pieces of property almost immediately after the person's death. However, distributing assets is not the first step that an executor needs to take. In fact, if an executor begins making distributions early, it is possible that serious consequences could result that could lead to personal and legal liability for the executor. Additionally, the court typically does not approve property distributions until the probate process is finished.

Massachusetts estate taxes: Frequently asked questions

One of your main goals when planning out your estate is to ensure that as much of the estate goes to your heirs as possible. You saved that money for them. You accumulated those assets to make their lives better. You do not want to make a critical mistake near the end of your life that means they don't get it or that they don't see the full value of all of the work you put in over the years.

To help you, here are a few common questions about estate taxes:

Wills, trusts and other documents important for estate plans

Planning for the settling of one's final affairs takes a considerable amount of effort. Massachusetts residents will need to go over several documents, such as wills and trusts, that they may want to use in their estate plans. They will also need to consider including other information in their plans that could make their wishes for various aspects known.

The bread and butter of most estate plans are wills and trusts. The will serves multiple purposes, such as specifying who is to receive certain assets and naming guardians for children who are not yet adults. Trusts can offer many benefits for asset protection and reducing estate taxes by removing property from the estate itself and into the trusts. Individuals can also put specific instructions on how assets in trusts should be used. Of course, both of these documents need to be properly created, with any trusts properly funded.

Loved ones may play a role in health care planning

When asked to take on an important role, many Massachusetts residents feel honored. This feeling of honor may especially be present if a loved one asks an individual to play a vital part in making important decisions on his or her behalf. Often, people will appoint family members to make such choices as part of their health care planning.

Typically, individuals use power of attorney documents to give loved ones the authority to act in the event of incapacitation. In particular, parties may choose someone to make medical-related decisions for them. Being a health care power of attorney agent is an important position, and agents need to feel ready to make critical decisions if the time comes. Preparing ahead of time is often helpful.

Estate planning tools can help with asset protection

Having something to pass on to loved ones is often desired. Many Massachusetts residents may consider the assets they have, wonder who would want them and how they could make sure that they are still available to pass on. Fortunately, estate planning can prove immensely useful when it comes to asset protection and making distribution designations.

Both wills and trusts can help with protecting assets. Wills can details how assets that are still part of the estate should be distributed, though the assets will still need to go through probate proceedings. For those interested in keeping assets out of probate, trusts can go a long way to accomplish that. Additionally, trusts can lower estate taxes in certain situations, and they also help individuals maintain privacy due to staying out of the public record.

Even disorganized people need wills

Many Massachusetts residents may not consider themselves the most organized people. For now, their disarray may not cause them much issue, but in the event of their deaths, disorganization could cause a significant number of issues for family members. Because of this possibility, it is often wise for even the most disorganized people to attempt to get their wills and other estate planning documents in order.

Parents in particular often find themselves getting pulled in numerous directions. As a result, they may forget appointments, misplace items and have little time for themselves. However, having children makes organizing through estate planning even more vital. Parents can use their wills to name guardians for their kids in the event of death or incapacitation. Some people may not think naming a formal guardian is necessary because they have several loved ones who could willingly care for their children, but without a specific appointment, surviving family may end up fighting over guardianship.

2 types of life insurance policies

A life insurance policy could be a major part of your estate plan. It's a significant asset, a way for you to provide for your family long after you pass away. It can give them some safety and security.

There are many types of policies, and it's important to choose the right one. They all have advantages and disadvantages that you need to weigh carefully. To get you started, here are two different types to consider:

Health care planning may lessen burden on families

Many people want to make sure that their elderly loved ones receive the necessary care. While some Massachusetts residents may want to be able to provide the care personally, that is not always a feasible arrangement. Because of this possibility, it is wise for individuals to carry out health care planning.

In a recent survey, the majority of participants stated that they do not want their long-term care needs to cause a burden on their family members. Instead, they would prefer that professional services provide for their care. Planning ahead can help ensure that family members understand this desire, and it can also help individuals make sure that the funds for care are available so that loved ones do not have to pay out of their own pockets.