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Boston Elder Law Blog

Long term care planning should start early

It is easy to think about and plan for the fun things the future may hold. Planning a weekend getaway may be infinitely more exciting than planning a presentation for work. It is human nature to procrastinate preparing for difficult times or events because this may mean a person must think about all the things that could go wrong. Perhaps this is why so few people in Massachusetts take the time to do long term care planning.

When seniors become too frail or incapacitated to take care of themselves, it may be too late to do any effective planning for long term care. The time to make those plans is years before, ideally beginning during the prime earning years between ages 25 and 45. However, a recent report reveals that long term care planning is not always near the top of the list of priorities for many individuals.

Why is probate taking so long?

The days and weeks following the death of a loved one can be emotional. Family members are often busy preparing, supporting each other and dealing with the practical matters, such as funeral plans. Soon enough, however, they must deal with the Massachusetts estate of their loved one, and that means beginning the probate process.

It is common for family members to want to move forward with their lives, but probate often keeps them in a holding pattern. The simple purpose of probate is to resolve any unfinished business, such as taxes and unpaid bills, so the rest of the estate can be divided among the heirs. However, probate can be frustrating, especially if heirs are uncertain what is going on and why it is taking so long.

What are the differences between wills and trusts?

Most families recognize just how important it is to have a comprehensive estate plan. The problem they may encounter is just what facets of an estate plan make the most sense for their personal financial circumstances. Many people in Massachusetts wonder whether using a will or a trust is the right choice. Fortunately, experts have advice when comparing wills and trusts.

First, any property listed for distribution in a will needs to go through probate. This process can be time-consuming and may not be cost-effective for everyone. The probate process is public, meaning a will might be more likely to be challenged, though some people think that is actually a good thing. A will may also make it easier to transfer different assets into or out of a person's estate. Even with any potential disadvantages, most experts say that any estate should have a will.

As an executor, how should you get started?

Being the executor of an estate is no easy task. You may have accepted the role because you did not want to disappoint your loved one, or you may have felt particularly suited to the tasks ahead. Of course, you and many other Massachusetts residents may not fully understand what all is involved with settling an estate.

Once the process gets underway, you may find yourself wondering what actions you need to take. Because any information your loved one left behind as part of his or her estate plan will be vital to the probate process, gathering those documents is a wise starting point.

Estate planning is more complex with an heir who has an addiction

Along with many others across the country, some people here in Boston have ended up addicted to opioids. The odds are that a large number of them ended up with the problem after going to a doctor for an injury. Over time, the addiction took over, and family members and friends do what they can to help, but it may not be enough.

Perhaps this story sounds familiar to you because you have a close loved one, maybe a child, in this position. Maybe the addiction spreads to other prescription medications and/or illegal drugs. While you continue to try to help now, you also want to see how you can help after your death.

Setting up the right sort of trust

Setting up a trust may not be enough to protect the money you wish to bequest to your loved ones. There are instances where the trust may not cover a particular asset. And in some instances, a prepared trust may not cover the asset at all.

It is a good idea to double-check such items to make certain you miss nothing. When preparing a trust, it is important to prepare it right. And it’s important to choose the right trust.

Warnings about signing a nursing home contract

Whether your parent has already planned wisely for long-term care or you fear you will be the one handling the responsibility of your parent's elder care matters, there are certain factors you may expect. For example, you may have to make critical decisions about your loved one's medical care, and this may include choosing a nursing care facility.

You have many options for levels of care depending on your parent's health situation. No matter which Massachusetts facility you decide is most appropriate for your loved one, chances are you will have to sign an admission agreement. This is not something to do casually. An admission agreement is a legal contract, and you would be wise to take your time and examine it carefully.

Taking care of yourself with a health care proxy

It is easy to sit around and shoot the breeze about favorite movies, the Red Sox, Boston’s best restaurants and so on. It can be more difficult to sit down with your spouse or other members of your family to discuss estate planning.

While it can be initially awkward to have those talks, those concerns are much less important to most people than the knowledge that by having these conversations, they are protecting not only their loved ones, but themselves. One of the most striking examples of self-protection in estate planning is the creation of a health care proxy.

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.