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May 2016 Archives

Protecting your assets from estate taxes

The estates of most people will not reach the threshold for the federal estate tax exemption, which is currently $5.45 million for an individual and $10.9 million for married couples. However, here in Massachusetts, the state estate tax exemption is well under that amount at $1 million. Fortunately, your estate plan can help protect your assets.

Having a will and a revocable trust is not enough

Massachusetts residents who engage in estate planning often feel that their job is done once they sign on the dotted line. However, having a will and/or a revocable trust is not enough to ensure that the assets will end up with the proper heir or beneficiary. The property needs to be properly titled and beneficiary designations on other accounts need to be in line with the rest of the estate plan.

Estate planning is essential to asset protection

Even if many Massachusetts residents have estate plans, that does not mean that all of their assets will pass to loved ones in accordance with their wishes. Even so, having an estate plan is better than not having one at all, since estate planning is essential to asset protection. Some people might be surprised to know that state law can dictate where some or all of a person's assets will go after death -- even if an estate plan is in place.

Before executing powers of attorney, consider this

Now that people are living longer thanks to medical advancements, more Massachusetts residents should consider what would happen when they are no longer able to carry out daily activities without assistance. Most people consider powers of attorney for a time when they are completely unable to care for themselves or make decisions on their own. However, most people who are ultimately considered to be incapacitated experienced a decline in mental function that did not happen overnight.

Don't forget about digital assets when creating an estate plan

Many Massachusetts residents have a significant online life. When estate planning, those digital assets need to be taken into consideration just like any other assets. Failing to ensure that family members, or at least the executor of the estate, have access to online assets could be disastrous since current law has yet to catch up to technology and obtaining access to certain accounts (financial or social) can be problematic.