In Massachusetts, "estate planning" broadly refers to the process through which someone decides what is to be done with their assets after death.
The first step in any estate plan is to figure out what you really want to be done with your assets after your death. This is a very personal decision, and you should discuss it with your family, and others who might have a direct interest in your decisions. As for really implementing your goals, you should probably speak with a legal and/or financial professional to figure out the best way to accomplish these goals.
In addition to decisions concerning the disposition of your property, you should decide how you want to spend your final days. For example, many people have a strong preference about whether and to what extent they'd like to be kept alive by artificial means. Whatever your opinion on this matter is, you should make it clear to the people who will be positioned to make such choices for you, if you are unable.
A reliable estate planner in Massachusetts may also help you maximize the percentage of your assets that go to your chosen beneficiaries, by minimizing the impact of taxes and court fees. Additionally, preventing a will or other estate plan from being litigated in court will save your survivors an incalculable amount of time, money, and energy - and the better an estate plan is, the lower its chances of ending up in court.
Common Elements of Estates in Massachusetts
Estate plans in Massachusetts almost always have these features:
Will: If you've decided who you want to leave your property and money to after you die, you should make these wishes official, by writing a will. When writing a will, it's always a good idea to have the help of an attorney, since many problems can come up which might make the will much more difficult to implement, or they might even void it entirely. Common problems include ambiguities in the terms of the will (a term which is not clearly written, so it can be interpreted differently by reasonable people), as well as failure to follow the required formalities.
Power of Attorney: Granting someone "power of attorney" gives them the authority to make your decisions for you if it becomes impossible for you to do so. This incapacity can arise due to illness, injury, or mental incapacity.
Funeral Arrangements: Obviously, deciding what you want done with your mortal remains is a very personal decision. However, once you have made this decision, you should put it in writing, in some place other than your will. You should also make your wishes known to your family members. This is because wills are often not read until days or weeks after the testator dies, by which point it may be too late to implement their wishes on this matter.
Do I Need a Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney?
Given the importance of decisions related to estate planning in Massachusetts, you will probably find that having an accomplished attorney to assist you will be well worth the cost, and might pay for itself in future savings.
Interesting Facts About Massachusetts
Massachusetts is known as "The Bay state" and was the sixth state to join the Union. The state of Massachusetts played a major role in the historical, cultural, political, and economic development of early America. The area was settled as early as the 1630's and continues to be a model of life in the U.S.
Since its early days, Massachusetts has been influential in shaping the structure and function of the U.S. government. For example, the Massachusetts State Constitution was drafted in 1780, eight years before the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Massachusetts' Constitution is one of the oldest written constitutions still in effect in the world. Another of Massachusetts' contributions is the Mayflower Compact of 1620, which was the Pilgrim's governing document for Plymouth colony.
The Massachusetts legal system is composed of the Supreme Judicial Court at the highest level, followed by the Appeals Court, then the Superior Court Department. Beneath these courts are the District Court Department and the Boston Municipal Court Department. The state also operates a number of specific courts including the Housing, Probate & Family, and Land Courts. The Supreme Judicial Court has produced several landmark decisions that have influenced American law, such as those relating to same-sex marriage, higher education, and medical reform.
Lawyers in Massachusetts form the foundation of the state's reputation for outstanding legal services. Many Massachusetts lawyers have been involved in cases that have set the precedent for subsequent cases. Attorneys in Massachusetts handle a wide range of legal issues.