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Estate Planning Archives

What to know about funding a trust

In many cases, a Massachusetts resident who has a trust won't necessarily need a will. This is because the trust has many of the same testamentary capabilities as a will. However, the estate owner should remember that a trust needs to be properly funded before they pass on. Otherwise, a bank account, home or other asset must go through the probate process. During the probate process, a judge determines who an item should go to.

How to start the estate planning process

Estate planning may be an uncomfortable task to undertake. However, all Massachusetts residents will die at some point. Therefore, it is important to take time to determine how assets will be distributed after this happens. It can also be a good idea to think about what a person would want if he or she became mentally or physically incapacitated. An estate plan can be structured so that another person can make decisions for an incapacitated individual.

Protecting heirs from themselves with spendthrift trusts

Some trust beneficiaries in Massachusetts are capable of responsibly handling trust assets. However, others are a bit more reckless with their spending. For times when a trust creator (grantor) wants to protect intended heirs from themselves, one option is what's termed a spendthrift trust.

Chronic illness and estate planning

Chronic illness affects more than 130 million Americans. However, many families in Massachusetts dealing with conditions like multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's don't reflect this reality in their estate plans. As a person ages, their chances of being impacted by chronic illness rises quickly, but people of all ages should account for present and possible conditions in an estate plan. This means including provisions for a variety of issues related to health and aging.

About transfer on death accounts

Massachusetts residents can include transfer on death accounts in their estate plans to help their beneficiaries avoid having to go to court to resolve issues with the estate. These types of accounts can be used to move assets without having them included in a will, which can be helpful for people without a will or trust.

Why individuals should consider a trust

Individuals in Massachusetts and throughout the country typically use a will to transfer their assets upon their deaths. However, it may be a good idea to use a trust to do so instead. A trust is managed by a person or entity that has a fiduciary responsibility to the beneficiaries of that document. This means that the trustee has to take actions that meet a beneficiary's interest and cannot engage in self-dealing.

Estate planning for digital assets

When people living in Massachusetts begin to plan their estates, they are often concerned with personal property, real estate, savings accounts and investment funds. One group of assets that is frequently overlooked is digital assets, including email and social media accounts, online shopping profiles and digital content such as music.

Including company accounts in an estate plan

People in Massachusetts thinking about their future may consider their wills, trusts and other estate documents, but they may not turn their attention to the company benefit plans that they often signed up for on their first day of work. These benefits can be considerable, including life insurance, retirement funds, stock option plans and other accounts. In many cases, people designated their beneficiaries only once: when they first signed the documents establishing their new accounts. However, the decisions made about beneficiaries can play an important role in a person's overall estate plan.

Don’t forget about digital assets when estate planning

When coming up with an estate plan, people may give a great deal of attention to their physical property. However, there is another class of assets that it is important to not overlook on this front: digital assets. This includes things like social media accounts, email accounts, data on the cloud and personal or business websites.

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