Unfortunately, many people don’t plan ahead in life. On the one hand, there’s the “live in the moment” and “tomorrow isn’t promised” way of thinking. In theory, that’s great! But the reality is that the future will eventually become the present moment. In most cases it’s a wonderful philosophy to enjoy life by really existing in the present and not stressing over the what- if’s and maybe’s of the future. One of the exceptions to this way of thought is in regards to estate planning. The time is now to protect you and your loved ones in future. It is far too common that planning and investing for the future only happens before it’s too late or before a proper plan is in effect. It’s easy to put things on the back burner when juggling the day to day, but we encourage you to take action.
It’s a fact of life that we’re all going to pass at some point. While it’s not something you probably want to think about too frequently, you can make things a lot easier on yourself (and your family) if you get everything in order now. We hope that your time on this earth is not on your mind too often, but it’s still something you should think about long enough to get everything in good shape. Doing so ensures that everything in your life is organized so others can see what you want to happen after you’re gone, what you own, and how to handle a variety of situations.
Remember, estate planning isn’t just for the wealthy. Even if you don’t own an expensive home or have a large investment account, you still want to decide how the things you worked so hard for are protected. Estate planning provides the tools you need to define and create structure to your hopes, dreams and desires for your future, and ultimately for the futures of the people you love. Some of the basic documents are your will and health care proxy. Creating a Massachusetts health care proxy and living will is an extremely important part of estate planning!
Approximately 55 percent of American adults do not have a will or other estate plan in place, according to LexisNexis.
At Schulze Law, we are not a typical law practice, and we are proud of it. We are a boutique, concierge-geared firm, meaning we offer personalized, detailed care and attention to all of our clients. The attorneys and staff are zealous advocates for our clients—for you. You can rest assured that we have all the resources needed to handle every single case we represent, no matter how complex or demanding. We can refer you to our network of financial planners and estate planning attorneys if needed.
Let’s check out some estate planning facts:
- It’s NOT just for the wealthy.
- Without a plan the state is in control.
- If you have kids, they may be left in a position of uncertainty an unprotected from lawsuits.
- It’s an evolving process in relation to how your life changes.
- The sooner it’s done, the better!
Wills and Living Testaments
Why should I create a Massachusetts will?
According to nolo.com, creating a will (also called a “last will and testament”), is a step you can take to help protect your family and your property. You can use a will to:
name a personal guardian to care for your minor children
name a trusted person to manage property left to minor children
leave your property to people or organizations
name an executor, who will ensure that the terms of your will are carried out.
What if I die without a will?
If you die without a will, your property will be distributed according to Massachusetts state “intestacy” laws. The intestacy law gives your property to your closest relatives, beginning with your spouse and children. If you don’t have a spouse or children, your grandchildren or your parents will get your property. If none exist, the state seeks out other relatives, including siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and your spouse’s relatives. If the court exhausts this list to find that you have no living relatives by blood or marriage, the state will take your property.
Do I need a lawyer to make a will in Massachusetts?
Although it is possible to create your own will, you may want to consult a lawyer, It’s an extremely important document and by consulting an experienced estate planning attorney, you’ll have all your bases covered.
What are the requirements for signing a will in Massachusetts?
To finalize your will in Massachusetts:
you must sign your will in front of two witnesses, and
your witnesses must also sign your will.
Do I need to have my will notarized?
No, in Massachusetts, it is not necessary to notarize your will to make it legal.
That said, Massachusetts does allow you to make your will “self-proving.” A self-proving will speeds up probate because the court can accept the will without contacting the witnesses who signed it. To make your will self-proving, you and your witnesses will need to go to a notary and sign an affidavit that proves who you are and that each of you knew you were signing the will.
Should I use my will to name an executor?
Yes. In Massachusetts, your will can name an executor who will ensure that the provisions in your will are carried out after your death. If no executor is specified, the probate court will appoint someone.
Health Care Proxies
Why do I need a health care proxy in Massachusetts?
According to nolo.com, if you become unable to direct your own medical care because of illness, an accident, or age, the right legal documents are your lifeline. When you don’t write down what you want regarding the kinds of medical treatment you want and name someone you trust to oversee your care, these important matters can be placed in the hands of estranged family members, doctors, or sometimes even judges. These individuals may not know you very well or may not carry out your wishes and plans.
What are health care forms called in Massachusetts?
There are two basic kinds of health care documents that everyone should make.
First, you’ll need a document naming a trusted person to direct your health care if you are unable to do so yourself. In Massachusetts, the official name for this form is a health care proxy.
Second, you should make a document setting out the types of medical treatment you would or would not like to receive in certain situations. This document is usually known as a living will. Massachusetts is one of just three states without a statute authorizing living wills. That doesn’t mean you should go without one. Federal law gives you the right to direct your medical care, and a living will provides important guidance to help others understand your treatment wishes. In Massachusetts, health care instructions are sometimes recorded on a living will form known as a “personal wishes statement.”
Who makes health care decisions for me in Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, the person you name to make decisions for you is called your agent. Most people name a spouse, partner, relative, or close friend as their agent. Under Massachusetts law, your agent may not be an operator, administrator or employee of a facility where you are a patient or resident or have applied for admission, unless the operator, administrator or employee is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.
The bottom line is this: if you want your assets and your loved ones protected when you no longer can do it, you will need an estate plan. If you don’t have an estate plan, your heirs could face massive tax burdens and the courts could decide how your assets are divided, or even who gets your children!
Estate planning can be intimidating, and it can also involve some complex rules and laws. A qualified estate planning attorney can help you navigate the process and put an effective plan in place. The time is now to protect the future.
Some things to think about and ways to prepare for your estate planning meeting are as follows:
- Who Will You Name As Executor?
An executor is the person who will be in charge of managing your estate once you pass. The ideal person is someone you trust, is a good decision maker and has some good business acumen and financial knowledge.
- Who do you entrust with your children?
Be prepared with names of individuals who will act as guardian for your children if you and your spouse are no longer around.
- Figure out all of your assets
There could be many items on this list, so taking a good inventory of your belongings will help the process.
Let’s go! Get planning and feel the comfort that you are protecting your future so you can fully enjoy the present.
Contact us today with any questions or if we can provide any clarity around estate planning. We are there for victims and their families when they need support the most. No one should have to go through this alone. With Schulze Law on your side, you won’t have to. We’re here 24/7.