Some Massachusetts residents may put off creating an estate plan because they are not comfortable contemplating their own deaths. While these feelings may be natural, not engaging in estate planning can make circumstances even more difficult for the family members who are left behind. Planning now can give everyone in a family peace of mind from the knowledge that estate distribution will be easier when the time comes.
One advantage of an estate plan is that its creator maintains control over who will be responsible for certain actions, while retaining the power to choose who will receive his or her assets and how they will be distributed. Without a will and/or trust outlining an individual's wishes, those determinations will be made by the state of Massachusetts. If that happens, assets may not be passed to heirs in accordance with a decedent's wishes.
It is important to note that certain accounts, such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts, pass to those listed on beneficiary designation forms, regardless of what an individual's will may indicate. Therefore, it is crucial that these documents be reviewed and updated, if needed, on a regular basis. Assets that are held jointly with another party will also automatically pass to the surviving owner despite any bequest to the contrary in a person's will.
Before estate planning documents can be drafted for execution, a thorough review of an individual's estate is needed. Doing so will not only give an accurate accounting of his or her assets but will also reveal any potential discrepancies between what he or she wants in the will and how assets are titled or what beneficiary designations say. Once everything is in order, an estate plan can be created that will reflect the desires of its creator.
Source: ktvq.com, "6 Essential Life Planning Questions You Must Answer", Jan. 26, 2015