Probate of Wills
Appointment or Removal of Personal Representative
Advancement or Defense of Claims Against Estates
Closing of Estates
It is difficult to anticipate what life could bring, and a sudden heart attack, stroke or onset of dementia could make it impossible to express or carry out your wishes if you do not have the proper plans in place.
The importance of estate planning cannot be overstated. You have worked hard for your assets, and our experience with estate, probate and long-term care planning can help to preserve your assets and enhance your standard of living. We will work with you to create a customized plan designed to protect, manage, and distribute your assets. We will also work with you to preserve your preferences regarding medical decisions and decisions involving end of life care.
FINANCIAL AND MEDICAL PLANNING SERVICES
The services listed below are only a few of the services that we provide. Please contact our office for information regarding other matters.
- Last Will and Testament:
- A Last Will and Testament is a tool that allows you to select who will manage your estate, who will inherit your assets, how and when your assets will be distributed, whether assets will be placed in trust, and who your minor children will live with if you die before they reach adulthood. It is important to draft a will to ensure that your wishes are known and legally acknowledged. If you do not have a will, the laws of your state will decide who may manage your estate, who will inherit your assets, and how and when your assets will be distributed. It is also important to remember that a new will must be executed if you marry or remarry, as a new marriage revokes prior wills. We have the experience to help select and draft the appropriate will to ensure that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes and unique preferences.
- Living Will:
- A Living Will is a tool that allows you to confirm your preferences regarding extraordinary measures (use of life-supporting measures including resuscitation, feeding tubes, ventilators, etc.). A Living Will allows you to instruct doctors, family members, and others on your wishes regarding life support measures and end-of-life care. We can assist you by creating a Living Will that will make your final wishes known and legally acknowledged.
- Declaration of Homestead:
- A Declaration of Homestead is a tool that can provide protection from certain creditors. A Declaration of Homestead can protect up to $500,000.00 of equity in your Massachusetts residence. To use a Declaration of Homestead to protect your home, you must own the home and occupy it as your primary residence. The protection provided by a Declaration of Homestead extends to your spouse and dependent children, and in certain situations the protection can continue after the death of the individual who signed the Declaration.
- Health Care Proxy:
- A Health Care Proxy is a tool that allows you to select a family member, friend, or other individual to serve as your health care agent (your medical decision maker) in the event that you are not able to make your own medical decisions. A Health Care Proxy may be crafted to address you unique medical needs and preferences. It is important to always have a Health Care Proxy because if you become incapacitated and you do not have one in place, you will be forced to seek and rely on a court-appointed Guardian to make your medical decisions.
- HIPAA Release
- A HIPAA release is a tool that allows you to select and provide certain family members, friends, or other individuals with authority to discuss your medical care with your doctors and health care providers. A HIPAA release is particularly useful in medical emergencies because it gives the selected individuals the power to obtain information from doctors and health care providers regarding your treatment and condition.
- Power of Attorney:
- A Power of Attorney is a tool that allows you to select a family member, friend, or other individual to manage your financial decisions. A Power of Attorney can be drafted to give immediate authority to your agent, and can also be drafted to allow that authority to continue if you become incapacitated (known as a Durable Power of Attorney). A Power of Attorney can also be drafted to take effect only if you become incapacitated (known as a Springing Power of Attorney). It is important to always have a Power of Attorney because if you become incapacitated and you do not have a valid Power of Attorney, you may need a court to appoint a Conservator to manage your financial matters.
- A Trust is a tool that allows you to transfer ownership of assets to a separate legal entity (the Trust) to protect and preserve the assets for your benefit and/or for the benefit of your loved ones. Trusts may be used to provide support for your spouse and children, to protect assets from creditors, to preserve eligibility for government benefits, to avoid probate, to reduce or eliminate estate taxes, and to control the use or disposition of assets after you have passed away. There are many different types of trusts, including (but not limited to) revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, special needs trusts, living trusts, life insurance trusts, charitable remainder trusts, and marital deduction trusts. We have the experience to help select and create a trust customized and designed to best protect your assets and achieve your goals.
- Life Estate Deeds
- A Life Estate Deed is a tool that allows a property owner(s) to receive income and maintain a legal interest in real property (often including the use and occupancy of a home) for the rest of the owner’s life, while leaving the property to family, friends, or other persons (referred to as the “remainderman”) on his or her death. A Life Estate Deed creates an irrevocable gift to the remainderman and can assist property owners in avoiding probate and preserving the asset for the benefit of the remainderman.
- A Guardian may be appointed to manage personal decisions for minors and incapacitated persons. Guardianships can provide Guardians with full authority for all personal decisions, or can be tailored to provide only limited assistance with certain types of personal decisions. It is important to have the assistance of an attorney for Guardianship matters, as there are complex laws and reporting requirements for Guardianships. We have extensive experience in Guardianship matters and can assist you in objecting to a Guardianship, petitioning to appoint a Guardian, petitioning to resign as Guardian, or petitioning to terminate a Guardianship.
- Guardianship Proxy:
- A Guardianship Proxy allows you to nominate a family member, friend, or other individual to serve as your future Guardian. A Guardianship Proxy allows you to express your preferred choice of Guardian and helps to ensure that if a Guardian is ever appointed for you, it should be someone that you know and trust.
- A Conservator may be appointed to make financial decisions for minors or adults who need assistance with financial matters. Conservatorships may provide full authority in a Conservator to make all your financial decisions, or may be tailored to provide only limited assistance with specific types of financial decisions. It is important to have the assistance of an attorney for Conservatorship matters, as there are complex laws and reporting requirements for Conservatorships. We have extensive experience in Conservatorship matters and can assist you in objecting to a Conservatorship, petitioning to appoint a Conservator, petitioning to resign as Conservator, or petitioning to terminate a Conservatorship.
- Administration of Estates
- If a friend or family member has assets and dies without a will, their assets must generally go through the probate process. This process requires court appointment of an Administrator to inventory and distribute assets, pay debts, and provide accountings. Our comprehensive estate administration services include filing all the necessary paperwork with the court and performing all steps necessary to obtain the appointment of an Administrator. We also offer assistance with estate administration, including serving as Administrator, preparation of inventories, accounting of assets to the court, paying and negotiating with creditors, filing estate and fiduciary tax returns, distributing inheritance to family, friends and other heirs, and closing the estate.
- Probate of Will
- If a friend or family member has assets and dies with a will, the will must go through the probate process to determine the validity of the will and to appoint an Executor. Once appointed, the Executor is directed by the terms of the will to manage or transfer legal title of the assets to the beneficiaries. We offer assistance in probating wills and representing Executors, heirs, and interested parties.
- Long-Term Care and Nursing Home Planning
- Long-term care and nursing home planning have strong financial and social benefits. Our knowledge of planning tools, resources, and options can assist you in retaining greater independence, maintaining good health through access to proper care, as well as coordinating financial resources to pay for your care and living expenses. Our knowledge of planning tools (including various long-term care options, long-term care insurance, and available community resources) can help in some instances to avoid nursing home care and can reduce the financial burdens associated with long-term care.
- Government Benefits Planning (including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Veteran’s Benefits, etc.)
- There are many valuable community resources and public benefit programs that may be available to assist you now or in the future. We offer assistance in locating these resources and applying for government benefit programs (including Medicare, Medicaid/MassHealth as well as SSI, SSDI and Veteran’s benefits). Our services range from identifying resources and drafting the initial application, to gathering and submitting the required financial and medical verifications to the appropriate agencies. If an application for MassHealth, Social Security, or Veteran’s benefits is denied, we can appeal that decision, and represent the applicant at the appeal hearing.
If you or someone you know requires assistance with estate, probate or long-term care planning, contact our office today to find out how we can help you to create a customized plan designed to preserve your medical wishes and protect, manage, and distribute your assets.