If you die without a will, and you or your spouse has children from a prior relationship, your estate will be divided between your spouse and your children.
No matter where you are in life, there are several essential documents that you should have in place.
A will directs who should receive your probate assets upon your death; nominates a Personal Representative to navigate the probate process; appoints guardians for your minor children; directs who should receive your possessions, such as jewelry, pictures, family heirlooms, or your favorite laptop; and what should happen to your electronic assets, such as social media accounts.
A health care proxy appoints someone to represent you, advocate for your health, and make medical care decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. Related documents include an Advance Directive (or Living Will), which allows you to describe how much end of life care you wish to receive, and a HIPAA Authorization, which allows loved ones to access your medical records.
A power of attorney gives an agent of your choosing the authority to manage your legal and financial matters, such as paying your bills and taxes.
Most people should also consider creating a revocable trust. A revocable trust can hold your assets, while allowing you to maintain complete control over them during your lifetime. Because property held in trust avoids the probate process, at your death your heirs will avoid the delays and costs associated with probating your estate. A revocable trust also allows you to appoint a successor trustee to administer your assets if you are unable, and to administer assets for your beneficiaries after your death, ensuring that your heirs are provided for and receive their inheritance outright only when they are ready to handle the responsibility. Finally, certain types of revocable trusts can significantly reduce estate taxes.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions about your estate planning or to learn more about our fixed fee estate plan packages.
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Belmont, MA 02478 (617) 484-6610
Fax: (617) 484-0035