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Salem Massachusetts Estate Planning Law Blog

Create your estate plan, then share the details with loved ones

The topic of inheritance is causing unease in families across Massachusetts and the nation.

An Ameriprise Financial report revealed just what is creating tension when it comes to inheritance and estate planning. Twenty-five percent of respondents said inheritance has caused drama in their families, and 69 percent haven't been told how much they stand to inherit, leading to confusion. And people expect more money than they actually will receive. Most expect to inherit more than $100,000 but get less.

Massachusetts mobster's family files claim to his estate

The siblings of Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger say they are heirs to his estate, and their legal case could play out in Suffolk Probate Court.

Bulger's brother, who served as president of both the state Senate and the University of Massachusetts, his brother and their three sisters have declared themselves the beneficiaries of an estate that currently is worthless, according to court filings.

Massachusetts residents should add these documents to estate plan

We know why people put off creating their estate planning documents. It's scary to state your wishes about your death. But in some cases, estate planning involves creating documents that will state your wishes about what happens when you're alive.

That's where planning for medical emergencies comes in. There are three documents Massachusetts residents should consider drawing up to guide family and doctors in a time of great need. Some are tailored to those who have existing medical conditions, but everyone should consider completing the documents that apply to them now while they are of sound mind and body.

  1. An advance directive, also known as a health care directive, tells your family how you'd like to be treated at the end of your life. You will designate a health care proxy who can make decisions on your behalf if you can't make them yourself, and you also will state the kind of medical treatment you would like – or don't want – in life-threatening situations. Your proxy will be able to follow your wishes by having this document. This is valuable for all adults.
  2. A Do Not Resuscitate order, commonly referred to as a DNR, tells medical personnel that you don't want to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation performed or be placed on life support. Your proxy and doctor both should have a copy of this, as well as any caregivers. This is appropriate for anyone who has a serious medical condition and is legally binding.
  3. A MOLST form is another advanced medical directive. MOLST stands for Massachusetts Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment. These forms document what you and your doctors have discussed about the type of life-sustaining treatment that you desire.

A spendthrift trust can keep your assets from being squandered

You have considerable assets to leave to your children. Two of them are very responsible with money. The third one isn't.

You want the money to last that child for a long time. There is a way you can do that. It's called a spendthrift trust.

Massachusetts court makes key ruling in estate planning case

The highest court in Massachusetts has ruled that when a spouse isn't mentioned in a will, they will receive one-third of the deceased spouse's estate. That recent decision of the Supreme Judicial Court has set a precedent for dealing with blended families.

The court ruled unanimously on the side of the second wife of a Charlton man who challenged her husband's will, which stated that his four adult children would inherit his real estate holdings.

What elder law can do for seniors

Aging comes with no shortage of questions. Whether you are an adult thinking about your parent or are starting to think about yourself as you get on in years, you no doubt have concerns about money, medical issues and the possibility of assisted living or other types of care.

The field of elder law can address each of these concerns. The legal professionals that practice in this field are equipped with the specialized knowledge needed to draft the various documents and plans a person needs to make sure their wishes are upheld. These are among the most common ways they assist older individuals.

Asset protection plan a must for many Massachusetts residents

For many Americans, a will or a basic trust is not enough to complete their estate planning. For people in Massachusetts and throughout the United States with more considerable assets, advanced estate planning can be required.

The goals for more complex estate plans can include everything from reducing estate taxes to creating your legacy.

What quick succession in death has to do with estate planning

When former President George H.W. Bush, a Massachusetts native, passed away in November, he joined his beloved wife, Barbara, who died in April. It isn't uncommon to see couples who have been married a long time – the Bushes were wed for 73 years – pass away in quick succession.

But such quick deaths raise an issue when it comes to estate planning. When one spouse quickly follows another in death, administering an estate presents a challenge. How challenging it is depends on a handful of factors, including the amount of time between the two deaths and how the estate plan was drafted.

Life insurance shouldn't be overlooked in estate planning

We all think of life insurance as a way to provide cash to our loved ones upon our unexpected deaths. But life insurance is more than that. It's actually can be a key part of an estate planning portfolio for many Massachusetts residents.

Here are some thoughts on the matter.

Challenging a will is both tough and emotional

You develop your estate plan to try to make sure all runs smoothly after you pass away.

It doesn't always happen that way. Your heirs could take exception to your bequests, upset that you didn't leave them what they think they deserve. A challenge could ensue.

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