Wills

In Massachusetts, if you die without a will, you are considered intestate. In order to determine who should receive your assets a legal process known as probate is required. Probate is the court process of distributing a person’s assets after his death. Without a will in place the court will appoint a representative who is responsible for paying any outstanding debts, bills, and taxes, collecting the deceased’s assets and then distributing the assets to beneficiaries according to Massachusetts probate laws. This seems like a simple process but in practice probate takes a long time, lasting months or even years. The probate process can lead your loved ones to spend months attending court room proceedings and can prevent your loved ones from receiving your assets, assets that they may need and rely on, for months. An intestate probate process can also be quite costly and must be paid for from the assets of your estate leaving less money for your loved ones.

A well designed will can help speed up the probate process as well as take the decision making process away from the court.

Wills

In a will you specify a personal representative, executor, to carry out how your assets will be distributed to your loved ones after you die. A will can also be used to designate guardians to care for minor children. A will reduces the time the probate process takes as well as the decision making a court will have during the probate process as you have already decided on a representative to distribute your assets and a specific plan regarding who will receive your assets.

Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxy

A durable power of attorney is a document that enables you to appoint an agent, a family member, friends, etc., to handle payment of your finances and handling personal affairs in the event you become incapacitated.

A health care proxy allows you to appoint someone to handle health care decisions for you while you are incapacitated.

These documents allow those involved to avoid the expensive court process known as conservatorship, where the court appoints someone to function in this capacity.

If you have any questions about estate planning, wills or trusts, don’t hesitate to contact our office; we would be happy to answer any questions regarding your existing estate plan, or future one.