Occasionally, I run across a great article written by someone else. Today is one of those days and I just had to share it with you. Clients are often confused when they come in for initial consultations and have preconceived notions about planning their estates based on things that they’ve heard from their friends, neighbors, hairdresser, etc. Most of the time the information shared is incorrect, or at least incorrectly applied to their situation. This article does a great job of debunking the most popular “myths” of estate planning. I only added one little thought in bold below. Thank you to my colleague, Attorney Gina Barry, from Bacon & Wilson in Springfield for putting this article together…. and as far as I know unicorns are still mythical creatures. [Read more…]
There are several websites that offer customized, do-it-yourself wills and other estate planning documents. These computer-based services appear to offer the consumer a cost-effective and convenient alternative to visiting an Estate Planning or Elder Law attorney. Or do they? Is online estate planning worth the convenience and initial savings? How do the documents created compare to those that a qualified attorney would produce? [Read more…]
On February 23, 2010, the US Bankruptcy Court in Massachusetts finally did what the Massachusetts state legislature has been unable to do for years: the court ruled that the Massachusetts Homestead Exemption is applicable to an owner whose property is in a revocable trust. Since this decision, In re Rodrigues, Bankr. D. Mass. Case No. 09-11960-JNF, the legislature has been working to pass a new statute that will replace Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 188, the statute concerning homesteads. The legislature is very close to passing a new law. Today we will review the Rodrigues decision, the pending Massachusetts legislation, and how it may be beneficial to you. [Read more…]
Lately, the matter of Brooke Astor’s estate has been covered in the media. Like many people she had an estate plan in place which included a Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy, which nominated subsituted decision makers in the event she would lose the capacity to make important financial and/or medical decisions at some point during her elder years. She did not want to burden her family with obtaining a Guardianship and/or Conservatorship through the courts. She did end up suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and her son took over her financial powers. He just didn’t do a very good job… [Read more…]
Occasionally a minor child will end up living with someone else besides his or her parents. This could be temporary, semi-permanent, or permanent. Perhaps the parent is in the military and was called to active duty so the child goes to live with a grandparent. Maybe the parents have a health or substance abuse issues and an aunt/uncle take charge of the child. Or perhaps a child chooses to live with a relative so that they may attend a specific school.
In situations such as those it used to be that in order for the caregiver to have the authority they needed to deal with health care providers, medications, and the school systems, a guardianship was needed. This process was costly, time consuming, and actually replaced the parent’s rights to make decisions for their children during the time that the guardianship remained in effect. A trip to the Probate Court was needed to initiate and terminate the process. [Read more…]
Last night I spoke at the Lutheran Health Care Center in Worcester. One attendee asked, “How often should I review my current estate plan?” It is very important to review your family’s financial and estate plan at least every 3-5 years. The general rule is that the older you are, the more frequent your reviews should be. [Read more…]
While some clients book traditional consultations at my office, I always make myself available for home visits with my clients. While the idea of a housecall has gone the way of black & white televisions, I find that meeting clients in their home, on their “turf,” helps make what is usually an emotional process, a bit more comfortable. In their home, clients tend to be more relaxed and at ease. The conversation goes a different way and I can sense the pride they have in sharing their home with someone. Coffee and tea flow more easily and taste better from your favorite mug than a styrofoam cup. [Read more…]