Estate Planning


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Who Me? I Don’t Have an Estate!

Thinking about our own mortality is uncomfortable and daunting. Ideally what this process should provide is peace of mind. You can feel confident that you have done everything you can to provide instructions for family and/or friends so that shortly after your passing they can focus on family, not finances.

If you leave instructions for the care of your pet when you go on vacation, at work for a colleague when you are out of the office, or for a babysitter when you go out to dinner or the movies, then surely you should leave instructions for your estate. Really that’s what an estate plan is – instructions.

What If I Don’t Have an Estate Plan?

An estate plan is not just a Will. If you get seriously ill or injured whom do you want making health care and/or financial decisions for you? The scary truth is that without an estate plan, the courts may complicate, delay, or even override the ability of someone of your choosing to make medical or financial decisions for you. A Health Care Proxy provides an opportunity to detail the level of care you wish to receive should you become incapacitated (ex. every medical option, hospice, or home care) and can alleviate stress and tension for the people responsible for communicating your desires. The HIPAA Release provides full access to your medical records so decisions made on your behalf are made in a more fully informed manner.

Likewise, someone may need to access your bank accounts to continue your mortgage payments or to send a check for your child’s tuition and a Durable Power of Attorney can accomplish this. A Durable Power of Attorney allows someone named by you to continue to pay your bills and carry on your financial and legal life should you become incapacitated.

I don’t own much, do I really need an Estate Plan?

Definitely. There is no “minimum asset requirement” for an estate plan. The Commonwealth of MA has a plan waiting in the wings in case we choose not to have one of our own design. This is not done with a goal of minimizing taxes or expediting the timeline of the process. Likewise, there is no flexibility for family members to interject known wishes of the deceased. An Estate Plan eliminates many of these problems and also has the benefit reducing drama among family members.