How much will I be charged?
Cheaper isn’t necessarily better when it comes to legal protection. Yet, the question “how much will it cost?” is on most everyone’s mind. So fees will be discussed during your first meeting with the attorney. This way you will know in advance what to expect. Once a client decides to hire the attorney and the attorney agrees to represent the client, the attorney will prepare a fee agreement.The fee agreement will contain the lawyer’s obligations to the client, the fee that the lawyer charges and the costs and fees associated with the case.
What is Probate?
Probate is a legal process that takes place after a person passes away. It involves:
- 1. Proving that a deceased individual’s will is legitimate
- 2. Identifying and taking inventory of a deceased individual’s assets,having the assets appraised, paying financial obligations and taxes and disbursing the assets left as the will or state law directs.
Probate requires documentation, records and court appearances by attorneys.Fees have to be paid by the estate to the court, attorneys and any other professional involved in the probate. Probate can also take well over a year to complete and the court proceeding itself along with all associated documents are matters of public record. Many choose to avoid probate in order to save money, avoid legal stress and to keep their personal affairs private.
What is a Will?
A will is a document an individual signs to provide for the distribution of their property after death.Wills don’t avoid probate. Wills have no legal authority until the person making the will passes away and the original will is filed in the Probate Court.
Having a Will can speed up the probate process and reduce administration costs. Everyone over the age of 18 should make a Will. Wills should be reviewed regularly to make sure it reflects current circumstances.
How do I name a guardian for my children?
If you have children under the age of eighteen, you should name a person or persons to be appointed guardian(s) over their person and property. Of course, if a surviving parent lives with the minor children (and has custody over them) he or she automatically continues to remain their sole guardian. This is true despite the fact that others may be named as the guardian in your estate planning documents. You should name at least one alternate guardian in case the primary guardian cannot serve or is not appointed by the court
What is a Health Care Proxy/Living Will?
A Health Care Proxy is a document in which a person appoints a health care agent to make medical decisions for them should they be unable to make them for themselves. A Health Care Proxy is authorized under Massachusetts Law. A Health Care Proxy usually does not detail how a health care agent should make decisions on behalf of a person. In contrast, a Living Will is drafted to state the medical wishes of the incapacitated person regarding life support measures to have or have withheld. Unlike a Health Care Proxy, Living Wills are not recognized under Massachusetts Law, but may be helpful in giving guidance to health care agents appointed under Health Care Proxies.
Why do I need a Durable Power of Attorney?
A Durable Power of Attorney allows a person to appoint a trusted individual to make decisions for the person making the power of attorney even when that person becomes incapacitated. If a person becomes incapacitated without a Durable Power of Attorney, it may be necessary to seek a
guardianship in probate court. In this type of court proceeding a judge will decide who should make decisions for the incapacitated person under the ongoing supervision of the court.
What types of powers of attorney are available
There are typically two kinds of durable powers of attorney: a present durable power of attorney in which the power is immediately transferred to your agent (also known as your attorney in fact); and a springing or future durable power of attorney that comes into effect upon disability as determined by a doctor.
Who should I designate as my agents in my health care proxy and my durable power of attorney?
People typically designate a spouse, a close family member or a close friend as their agents in their health care proxies and durable powers of attorney. Some choose to appoint a professional. Either way, the agent should be someone who is trustworthy, responsible and competent.
What is a Revocable Living Trust?
A Revocable Living Trust is an agreement between the maker of the trust, the Trustees and the beneficiaries. A husband and wife may name themselves all to create a trust, manage their property transferred to the trust, and have full use of the trust property as beneficiaries. Alternative trustees are appointed in the event that the couple becomes incapacitated or dies. The Trust also provides directions on distribution of trust property upon the death of the couple. The Revocable Living Trust allows people to accomplish their goals outside of court. To many the living trust looks like a will. It does contains the details and instructions for how a person wants their handled however, unlike a will a properly funded trust does not go through probate, prevents courts from controlling assets at incapacity and gives more control over the assets left to children
Who Should Have a Revocable Living Trust?
If a person owns a house and wants loved ones to avoid court interference, consider a revocable living trust.
What Happens If There Is No Will?
Every person over the age of 18 years has a plan in place that will transfer their estate upon death.If a person dies without a Last Will and Testament, it is called dying Intestate,there is a statute in Massachusetts that directs how the estate should be distributed.
What Happens If I Don’t Have A Power Of Attorney Or Health Care Proxy?
There is a legal procedure called Guardianship or Conservatorship. In a guardianship or conservatorship a judge appoints a person to make legal and financial decisions when someone is unable to make these decisions for themselves. This court supervised procedure may be avoided by drafting a private Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy.
What Are Beneficiary Designations?
Probate of individual assets may sometimes be avoided on the transfer assets through the use of beneficiary designations. Some common examples include life insurance, death benefits and retirement accounts where a specific beneficiary is named right on the account.
What is estate planning?
Estate planning is a way to make sure that a individual’s property and health care desires are respected and that loved ones are provided for in their absence. An estate plan can take care of a range of legal questions that occur whenever any individual dies: What is the condition of their financial affairs? What real and personal property do they own? Who receives what? Does a guardian need to be selected to care for minor children? These are some of the questions that are addressed in estate planning.
How can an estate plan help?
No matter what your age, or the size and sophistication of your estate, an estate plan can establish the family members and loved ones that you want to get your assets after your death. Estate plans also allows your property to be transferred to those you have specified as rapidly and with as few
legal difficulties as possible. Using a trust in an estate plan can help avoid the time and costs of probate. A Health Care Proxy can insure that a person you trust will be in charge of making your health care decisions should you be unable to make them yourself.
What type of property comprises an estate?
An estate consists of all property owned by a person that dies at the time death such as real estate, bank accounts, stocks, mutual funds and bonds, life insurance policies, cars, jewelry and collections.
What documents make up an ideal estate plan?
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Health Care Proxy
- Living Will
- Revocable Trust
- HIPPA authorization
What is a HIPPA authorization?
Some medical professionals have declined to release information, even to spouses and adult children authorized by durable medical powers of attorney, on the grounds that the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, forbids such releases. A HIPAA authorization form allows the release of medical information to your agents, your successor trustees, your family and other people whom you designate in the authorization.