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Taking advantage of the new year to do some estate planning

Another year has come and gone. As one year ends and another begins, many Massachusetts residents may think about what they want to accomplish in the new year. Some may want to lose weight, some may want to quit smoking, while others are determined to finally take that road trip they've been planning to go on for years. What about estate planning? Creating an estate plan could be a productive way to start the year. 

Trying to determine a loved one's wishes without the help of a last will and testament and a living will can be difficult. Some family members might argue about what should be done concerning their loved one's health care or what should be done with their assets after death. Other family members may pay unnecessary legal fees in an attempt to sort out a relatives affairs. There are still more who will not have any choice at all because the state will step in if there is no will and testament available. 

Many people believe that because they have a small estate that an estate plan is not needed. However, even small estates can benefit from an estate plan. It can help family members to more quickly pay off any debts their departed family member has left behind, and it can also help to prevent any potential arguments among family members concerning inheritances. 

Others may also believe that if they are generally in good health then a living will or instructions detailing their preferences on what health care they wish to receive is not necessary. These documents can help provide a family peace of mind when a loved one is not able to make difficult health care decisions in the moment. They can detail which specific medical treatments the patient wishes or does not wish to receive in certain situations. 

The hospitalization or death of a loved one can be incredibly stressful for the family involved. Leaving detailed instructions or giving a trusted individual the power of attorney can help to eliminate some of that stress. Massachusetts residents who wish to discuss estate planning or similar subjects could benefit from seeking the advice of a local attorney. 

Source: bizjournals.com, "Why an estate plan should be a resolution for 2018", Aimee Burgess, Dec. 14, 2017

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