In its simplest terms, an estate plan is a set of instructions regarding what you want to do with your assets and property and who should get what, the type of medical treatment you do (or do not) wish to receive if you are incapacitated, who will take care of your children and how they will be provided for, as well as a way to minimize taxes upon your death. Because it does deal with what happens when you die, it’s all too easy to put off making those important arrangements. But consider this: if you don’t take care of it now, the courts will be the ones making the decisions.
An estate plan is more than a will. It’s a comprehensive set of documents that our estate planning attorney at the Law Offices of Richard A. Kelley can help you draft. Moreover, we know how important it is to revisit your estate plan periodically to ensure that as your life changes—such as divorce, a remarriage, a new baby, the purchase or sale of a house, a promotion or any other major event—your estate plan reflects any new instructions you may wish to make.
An estate plan is for everyone, not just the wealthy
If you have a house, a car, a few investments, a savings account, a retirement fund, a family, or anything of value—then you need an estate plan. No matter how small your estate is, chances are, you want to be the one to decide its disposition. Whether your net worth is significant or modest, and whether you are young or nearing retirement age, a comprehensive estate plan offers
you and your family peace of mind. An estate plan helps:
- Reduce taxes
- Avoid Massachusetts probate
- Provide support and financial stability for your spouse and children
- Ensure that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes
- Preserves assets for future generations
- Ensure that you have someone who can make decisions on your behalf should you become disabled
How we can help
Drafting an effective, well-thought-out estate plan takes knowledge of the law, of course; but it also takes dedication to helping you plan a secure future for the people you care about most. Richard Kelley’s decision to go to law school was in large part because his children were born prematurely and have learning disabilities, giving him a strong desire to represent them and ensure their best interests were met. At our North Andover law firm, we have not only the skills, but also the passion to help protect families. We draft estate planning documents that include:
- Last will and testament: This is perhaps the most familiar estate planning document. It lays out, in writing, how you would like your estate—such as bank accounts, life insurance proceeds, real estate, personal property and other assets—distributed upon your death.
- Living will: Not to be confused with a last will and testament, a living will (also called an Advance Health Care Directive) is a document that lets you state your wishes regarding medical treatment should you become disabled, incapacitated, unable to communicate or terminally ill. While it is not legally binding in Massachusetts, it will serve as a guide and let your agent know what your wishes are.
- Power of attorney (POA): When you grant power of attorney, you are appointing someone to act on your behalf in financial matters, including purchases, banking transactions, and bill-paying. That person is called your attorney-in-fact. Because you’re assigning so much power to that person, it’s important that you make sure it’s someone you can trust. POA can also be changed or revoked, and the amount of power you designate can also limited.
- Health care power of attorney (health care proxy): In this case, you are naming somebody to be your advocate and act as an agent who can make medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. Unlike a living will, a health care power of attorney is legally binding.
- Trusts: These are among the most valuable tools in an estate plan. They can protect your assets from taxes, probate, and litigation; through a special needs (supplemental needs) trust, provide security for a disabled loved one without creating problems with government benefits, such as Medicaid or Social Security; establish a bequest for a favorite charity; preserve family wealth; and even provide for a beloved pet.
Don’t put off planning a more secure future…call us today
In these uncertain times, it is all too easy to postpone making plans and decisions that are critical to your family’s well-being. To discuss how we can help you start making a solid estate plan, or for help reviewing a plan you already have, please contact us online or call us at 781-460-9651 to schedule a consultation.