Golden Law Center
200 Highland Ave, Suite 302, Needham, MA 02494
Estate planning is more than a set of documents. It’s a conversation with your loved ones about how you want to manage your familial, medical, legal and financial affairs in the event of your illness or death. The estate planning documents are the tools by which you continue this dialogue if you are no longer able to speak for yourself.
We will work with you to craft your estate plan so that your documents are clear, comprehensive and reflect your wishes. We also take care to be sure that the beneficiary designations on assets which don’t pass through probate, such as your retirement accounts, savings bonds, and life insurance policies, are properly worded so that all of your assets are properly transferred after your death.
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail
If you die without a will, the Massachusetts law of intestacy dictates who gets to inherit the assets you owned outright and what proportions each heir would receive. Maybe you don’t think you need a will because you’re hoping that everyone will get along and divide things “fairly” or come to an agreement over your care if you are ill. But that’s not estate planning.
What if your lack of planning backfires? What if this is a second marriage – will your estate be fairly divided between the surviving spouse and the children of your first marriage? What if your failure to plan results in a fight over your assets – or over you? What if a child is incapacitated and loses benefits as a result of an inheritance? Who can be trusted to handle your minor child’s inheritance until she is old enough to manage the funds herself? What if an old Will names people who are long dead, or names someone you now would rather not give in inheritance?
That’s where a comprehensive estate plan comes in.
A Will governs the assets which you own in your own name. . Your Will nominates a personal representative to manage those assets and represent the interests of your estate in settling debts and claims. Your Will usually does not manage the disposition of life insurance, retirement accounts, or assets already held by a trust, which are managed through beneficiary designations, or jointly-owned assets that pass to the co-owner automatically at death.
A trust can be a critical part of your estate plan. Whether you need help with tax planning, special needs issues, or something else, we will listen to your concerns and design a trust that meets your goals. A trust can:
Documents which are effective during your lifetime are just as important as a Will – maybe even more so. Without a health care proxy, a written release for medical information and a comprehensive power of attorney, your loved ones will be forced to go to court for a guardianship or conservatorship in order to manage your affairs on your behalf. These cases are expensive, stressful and often unpleasant. What’s more, a judge decides how your affairs are managed and who manages them, not you.
We pay special attention to powers of attorney so the attorney-in-fact can best protect the interests of seniors with long-term care needs and the rights of people with disabilities while avoiding or minimizing the need for court involvement to take protective measures.
Under Massachusetts law, a health care proxy takes effect if a doctor states in writing that you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions about your health care. But if you just want your children to be able to speak with the doctor on your behalf while you have capacity, a medical information release, also known as a HIPAA release, is a must to waive the medical privacy laws used to protect your health records.
A living will, also known as an advance directive, provides valuable guidance about your wishes for end-of-life care to your health care agent. It can be as detailed as you wish concerning the type of treatment you may or may not want in the event you are terminally ill and incapacitated.