Learn about the differences between these two probate classifications, and see whether the probate of your loved one may qualify for the expedited informal probate process.more...
Quincy Estate Planning Lawyer for Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney
Preparing for the future is a critical lifetime step, but many individuals put off vital estate planning until it is too late. Without a will or updated estate plan, disputes over assets can easily arise, and wishes regarding the distribution of assets can be disregarded, potentially depriving loved ones of much-needed financial support.
Meticulous estate planning and a sound asset protection strategy can help safeguard your hard-earned assets and protect your family, friends, and future generations. At Gemma Law Office, I assist clients with the preparation of cost-effective estate plans focused on:
- minimizing taxes,
- protecting assets,
- using the tax law as an advantage,
- distributing assets in accordance with their wishes, and
- protecting loved ones against conflict.
As an estate planning lawyer serving Quincy and nearby communities, I will listen to your objectives and help construct a comprehensive and pragmatic strategy that seeks to accomplish your wishes and protect loved ones. Call today to learn about our affordable estate planning options.
Call Our Office to Schedule a Free Consultation with Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer Anthony Gemma
As a will and trust lawyer, in addition to serving Quincy, I also serve clients in Braintree, Hingham, Cohasset, Randolph, Brockton, and throughout Norfolk and the surrounding counties.
What Happens if I Die Without an Estate Plan?
If an individual passes without a will or estate plan, Massachusetts state law specifies how individually owned (without a beneficiary designation) assets must be distributed, even if such distribution goes directly against the wishes of the decedent.
A Quincy estate planning attorney can be beneficial. I can help you craft an estate plan that will protect and further your specific distribution wishes.
If you do not have an estate plan, or if you are in need of updating a previous estate plan to take into account recent life changes or other circumstances, I invite you to call our office to schedule a free consultation to discuss your long-term goals and objectives.
Would I benefit from a Trust in Massachusetts?
If your estate is worth over one million dollars, a trust may be a beneficial option for minimizing Massachusetts estate taxes, and possibly also for minimizing federal estate taxes (the federal exemption for estate taxes for 2022 is $12.06 million for an individual). On the other hand, if your estate’s value is likely to be significantly less than one million dollars, you may not need a trust for tax minimization purposes.
However, in addition to estate tax minimization, trusts can also be helpful for other purposes. As an example, if you have minor children, a trust can be used to hold and distribute assets for the welfare of your children if you should die before they become adults. Trusts can also be created for children with special needs (as discussed below). Assets in the trust also avoid probate.
When I meet with clients, I can advise as to whether a trust may be beneficial based upon their needs and circumstances.
What is a Healthcare Power of Attorney?
When an individual suffers a disability and loses the capacity to make decisions regarding their health and welfare, loved ones may be forced to spend significant sums of money to seek often costly court appointments for what are known as guardianships and conservatorships. Guardianship and conservatorship allow a representative to be appointed to oversee virtually all aspects of the life of another individual; however, a healthcare proxy can typically help bypass these processes regarding health care decisions. (A well drafted durable power of attorney can also typically bypass these processes regarding financial decisions for a disabled individual).
With a healthcare power of attorney (or health care proxy), a person can designate an individual to make decisions about their care and welfare if they suffer an injury or develop a medical condition and are no longer able to communicate their wishes. For example, if a person is involved in a serious automobile accident and suffers a traumatic brain injury, without a healthcare power of attorney, loved ones may not have authority to make important medical decisions, and a court appointment of guardian may be necessary.
If multiple family members are involved, disagreements regarding how to proceed can arise, potentially causing a delay in treatment. If a representative is appointed through a healthcare proxy, a single person will be tasked with making such decisions, minimizing the chances of disagreements and increasing the probability that a person’s wishes will be followed.
What is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive (sometimes called a “living will”) allows a person to prearrange and express their own end-of-life decisions. For example, if an individual is in a terminal or “end-of-life” stage, the advance directive/living will can be used to specify whether all treatment to prolong life should be provided, or only “palliative” (pain relief) treatment should be provided. Consequently, loved ones may avoid disputes in court over such difficult decisions if you have clearly expressed your wishes and directives.
How Does a Trust Work in Quincy, Massachusetts?
A trust is an arrangement in which a grantor (the individual who creates the trust) transfers his or her assets into a trust, which is then managed by a person referred to as a “trustee”. The grantor stipulates in a written trust agreement how, when, and to whom his or her assets will be distributed. Sometimes the grantor will also serve as the trustee, while other times it is family member, friend or a corporate/professional trustee.
Legal title to the assets is then transferred to the trust, and the trustee manages and distributes the property as specified in the trust agreement. Because assets held in trust are no longer owned by a grantor, the property is typically not considered part of his or her probate estate; typically allowing trust assets to bypass probate.
What Is Included in an Estate Plan?
Estate plans are usually comprised of the following:
- Last Will and Testament. A will sets forth the people and/or charities who will receive your assets, helping to avoid family disputes and unnecessary litigation. A will can also direct what will happen to an asset after your passing, such as if you would like to have a property sold and the proceeds distributed to your children.
- Revocable/Irrevocable Trusts. A trust allows a trustee to hold and manage assets on behalf of named beneficiaries and to distribute assets as specified in a written trust agreement. Trusts can be created while a grantor is living and can be made either revocable or irrevocable. If you are interested in creating a trust, we can discuss the advantages and help determine the type of trust that might benefit your estate.
- Durable Power of Attorney. A durable power of attorney is a document authorizing your agent to manage and access your financial assets and affairs, and is particularly important in the event a person is unable to do so themselves.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney (Health Care Proxy). Through a healthcare power of attorney, an agent can be appointed to make legal decisions about medical care.
- Living Wills/Advance Directives. An advance directive allows an individual to provide written instructions regarding end-of-life care ahead of time.
How Can I Ensure that My Special Needs Child is Taken Care of?
Children, including adult children, with special needs can require long-term medical and other care, which can be exorbitantly expensive. Consequently, for those with a disabled or special needs child, it is critical to engage in methodical estate planning that enhances the life of the child while still providing access to state and federal government benefits for which the child is otherwise eligible (such as Medicaid and Social Security Disability). This can often be accomplished by utilizing a special needs trust.
Call Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with Experienced Quincy Estate Plan Attorney Anthony Gemma.
If you have not started or need to update your estate plan to reflect changed circumstances in your life, I invite you to call my office to schedule a free consultation. If retained, as an experienced Quincy estate planning lawyer, I can review your estate assets, discuss your wishes, explain the options that may be best for furthering your objectives, and prepare your personalized estate plan. Don’t wait until it is too late – call today to learn how you can provide for loved ones and ensure your wishes are followed.
The firm will not take any action on your behalf unless and until a written agreement for representation is signed by the firm.
Gemma Law Office News & Information
When estate planning is being undertaken at the same time that a person is separated or getting a divorce, it is critical that the person engaging in estate planning fulfill their other obligations concerning asset disclosure in connection with the divorce or separation. A person may not simply shield their assets from a divorce by creating and transferring their assets to a trust, or otherwise giving away assets.more...
If a will is not valid, a person will be deemed to have died “intestate”, and property will be distributed according to state intestate laws. Learn what you need to do to prevent this outcome.more...