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Boston Elder Law Blog

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.

Health care planning involves exploring care facility options

As individuals age, it is common for new and differing ailments to crop up. In some cases, the issues may be relatively minor at first, but as more problems arise, it can prove more difficult for Massachusetts residents to live on their own or to care for themselves. Typically, long-term care is needed. Because of this possibility, health care planning is often wise.

Though numerous people may think that a loved one needing long-term care will need to go into a nursing home, that may not be the case. There are several care options available, and depending on the specific conditions a person is dealing with, it could be feasible to have multiple avenues open for care. If health issues are not detrimental, parties may be able to take advantage of independent living or assisted living facilities, which do not provide as much medical attention as nursing homes.

Estate planning discussion may help family understand wishes

There are many times in life when families need to have discussions that will not always go easily or as planned. One topic that some Massachusetts families may not easily discuss is estate planning. Adult children may not want to think about their parents' eventual demises, and parents may worry about children will react to their end-of-life wishes. Nonetheless, it is important to have this conversation.

In order to work toward having a smooth discussion, individuals may want to ensure that the environment created for the conversation is safe. In order to achieve this, it may mean presenting some rules for the discussion. For instance, families may want to allow only one person to talk at a time, and they may also want to dictate that the discussion is private and not to be shared with individuals outside the family.

Knowledge and updates can help with asset protection

For some Massachusetts residents, ensuring that their loved ones will be taken care of after their passing is an important goal. Often, this desire means that individuals may need to take part in asset protection. Fortunately, many aspects of estate planning can help parties make sure that they understand their assets and account for various changes.

One of the first steps of asset protecting involves understanding one's assets. If someone does not have this information, it may prove immensely difficult to decide the best way to plan for future property distributions. One may want to consider funds in bank accounts, any retirement benefits, life insurance policies and other similar assets. Of course, it is also wise to assess other physical assets and obtain valuations when it may be necessary.

Executors need to be willing to complete the probate process

People with certain qualities suit particular roles better than others. Because of this fact, it is important to consider an individual's personality and strengths before choosing him or her to take on an important position, like executor of an estate in Massachusetts. The executor will have a considerable amount of responsibility when it comes to the probate process.

Certain characteristics could help during this process, and the major ones include having the physical and mental fortitude to handle the obligations. A younger person often better suits this role than an older person as testators want someone who will still be around to handle these affairs. Additionally, the person appointed should be a trustworthy individual. The executor will handle a number of financial transactions and deal with remaining property, and appointing a trustworthy person may lessen the chance of conflict.

Who manages an educational trust?

You have significant assets that you want to leave to your heirs, but you know that everyone in your family is not as prudent about how they spend their money as you are. You worry that they will spend it on things you would never approve of and otherwise waste the money you have been putting aside for your entire life.

On top of that, you know that you got a lot out of going to college when you were younger. You relished learning and education. You enjoyed the experiences you had, like traveling the world and making friends from different walks of life. College molded you into the person you are today, and you want to pass that on to your heirs.

Wills may be challenged over testamentary capacity

In many cases, people can put off estate planning until it is too late. Even if a person is still alive, his or her mental capacity may have declined to a point at which sound decisions are no longer possible. As a result, wills created after this point will likely not be considered valid when it comes time to probate Massachusetts estates.

The mental capacity to create a valid will is legally known as testamentary capacity. Often, individuals who suffer from mental disorders, like Alzheimer's disease, may be thought to have lost that capacity if the disease has progressed enough. However, even if a person seems to make poor decisions in other areas of his or her life, if the court believes the decisions made in regard to the will are sound, the document may still be considered legally binding.

Estate administration involves responsibility and obligations

The loss of a loved one can quickly take its toll on surviving family members. Some parties may want to -- and have the ability to -- put their lives on hold temporarily in order to grieve. Others, however, may not have that chance, especially someone acting as executor attending to estate administration in Massachusetts.

Because the executor has a great deal of responsibility and a number of obligations to attend to, it can be difficult to know when and where to get the ball rolling. Some people may wonder whether they need to probate the will and what steps will need to be taken after that action. Of course, as with most scenarios, the actions an executor needs to take for a specific estate will depend on the circumstances.

Addressing assets during probate means looking at online accounts

Executors of estates often find themselves in thankless roles. Often, they have to bear the brunt of any disgruntled relatives or beneficiaries while also working to close the estate as efficiently as possible. One of their duties includes gathering and protecting the decedents' assets, and this step also needs to include addressing digital assets.

When thinking about important accounts and property, many Massachusetts residents may not immediately rank someone's email accounts among them. However, email accounts, social media accounts, shopping accounts and a number of others that parties use to live their online lives need addressing. If executors forget to close these accounts or simply think that they are not important enough to handle, they could end up allowing hackers the opportunity to use those accounts for illegal activities.