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What every Massachusetts parent should consider in an estate plan

Becoming a parent is one of the most important events in a person’s life and many men across Massachusetts celebrated their very first Father’s Day this past weekend as a new dad. Parenting a child is no easy feat and many mothers and fathers look forward to having a day every year to hopefully relax and spend time with family.

Even before a child is born, soon-to-be parents begin planning for the future. They set up a nursery or a college fund. But one thing that many parents, both new and long-time parents alike, end up neglecting is to plan for the future of their estate. This can have an even more serious effect on children than even the World’s Best Parent may realize.

Without an estate plan in place, parents leave crucial decisions related to assets, care and guardianship of children to strangers. It is not easy to think about what will happen to the children after a parent is gone, but if parents end up getting in a fatal accident or falling ill, having a plan in place that protects the children can be crucial.

There are several documents that parents will want to consider when it comes to developing an effective estate plan. In addition to a will or living trust, these documents can be very helpful for parents to have in place.

  • An Advanced Health Care Directive addresses a person’s preferences when it comes to his or her health and is often used when a person cannot communicate his or her wishes. This document serves as a guide for the care, tests and treatment a person wants and does not want. With this document, loved ones are not left to make difficult decisions on their own.
  • With a Power of Attorney form, a parent can identify the person who should be put in charge of his or her finances and making decisions for the care of young children.
  • A HIPAA Release Form should be completed so that the people named in an advanced care directive or power of attorney form can have access to a person’s healthcare information if necessary.

It may not be easy for parents to think about these uncomfortable situations, but being a parent is about making some difficult decisions. In the end, however, kids will be very glad their parents planned ahead.

Source: Forbes, “The Best Gift Dads Can Give Their Families,” Michael Chamberlain, June 13, 2013


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