Category Archives: Massachusetts Probate Attorney

Preventing Complications with a Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney

When a loved one passes away without a will or when an elderly family member is planning to write up a will, it is important to understand the probate laws in the state. Working with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney can help simplify the process, but having some basic knowledge before talking to a lawyer will make the process of creating a will easier.

Following the Will

Working with a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer to create a will is the best way to prevent complications for loved ones. A lawyer can explain the laws regarding inheritance so that it is easier to determine who will receive different items.

In the state of Massachusetts, the legal system follows the will. Unless the will is contested, items are passed along according to the desires of the individual who created the will.

When a Will is Not Created

When a will was not established before a loved one passed away, hiring a probate lawyer may become a necessity. The probate lawyer can help determine if a case is possible and explain the inheritance laws in the state.

In Massachusetts, property that is owned jointly will automatically transfer full ownership to the other party. Tenancy by the Entirety also applies to married couples in Massachusetts, so a spouse will usually inherit a house or similar property, even if it was not a joint asset.

Any funds that were set aside in a Payable Upon Death account will go to the stated beneficiary. The state does not take Payable Upon Death accounts to probate.

If certain assets are not held jointly or there is a debate about who will receive the assets, then the case may go to court. The case will ultimately decide the division of assets based on the relationship with the deceased party.

It is best to work with a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer before passing away. Creating a will prevents loved ones from going to court and ensures that assets are given to the appropriate individuals.

Top 5 Massachusetts Probate Law Changes

New Massachusetts Probate Laws went into effect Spring of 2012.In Massachusetts, there have been several recent changes to the probate law. These changes went into effect in early 2012 and makes a major impact on everyone who will be working with the will of a loved one or any aspect of elder law. Look at the top five Massachusetts probate law changes and find out how they may affect you now or in the future.

Introduction of New Probate Terms – For instance, the person who is in charge of overseeing the probate process for the estate is no longer called an executor but instead a personal representative.

New, Informal Probate Process – This new probate law allows an executor (personal representative) to be appointed in as few as seven days.

Intestacy Laws – When someone dies without a will, the old laws gave half the estate to the children and half to a surviving spouse. Now if the surviving spouse is the parent to the children, he or she gets 100% of the estate.

Exempt Property – There is a new concept of exempt property, which is not part of the claims of creditors. Certain family members are entitled to receive this property and a family allowance. A Massachusetts probate lawyer can help you figure out the eligibility requirements.

Time Limit Shortened – The time limit for probating a will is shortened from 50 years to 3 years. This is important as it can cause a will to more quickly move into Intestacy, even if there is an executor declared.

Why choosing an elder law specialist is best for you and your parents

Elder law attorneys can provide the best solutions to financial and legal plans for your loved ones.

Elder law attorneys can provide the best financial and estate planning solutions for your loved ones.

If you are responsible for elderly parents or relatives, you already know you have many issues to consider. Hiring an elder law attorney – a person that specializes in the laws concerning seniors – is a smart move. If your relative has considerable assets or complicated financial issues, you need the services of an elder attorney; a person that knows about estate planning, living trusts, nursing home issues, and probate. All of these issues can be handled by an elder law specialist.

An estate planning attorney or estate planning lawyer helps seniors plan their wills. Often this means selecting a power of attorney who acts in your place for financial purposes. An attorney can help you with problems that arise from appointing a power of attorney with financial institutions. A planned will details who will acquire what property and money when you die. The will can include bank accounts, IRAs, property, jewelery and expensive collections. A complicated binding document like this demands the expertise of an estate planning attorney.

A living trust attorney can help seniors with different types of trusts used to manage their assets. For example, there are revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, and supplemental needs trusts. Each one has a different purpose and reason for being formed. A MA elder attorney will know all the ins and outs to select the best trust for you or your relative.

A Massachusetts elder lawyer is qualified to help you with any number of important issues. Some of these include disability planning, long term health care decisions, nursing home issues, Medicaid, Medicare, and even at-home care. A Massachusetts estate planning attorney is always ready to help the elderly find the best way to plan their estates. Estate planning is a complex legal issue that only a good Massachusetts estate planning lawyer can handle.

Do you have an elderly relative that has to go into a nursing home? A massachusetts nursing home attorney is qualified to help you assess your financial situation and interpret the many laws that apply. It is a complicated and confusing issue to tackle alone. A good attorney can help your family keep some of their money while still giving your relative good quality care. A lawyer can help you with Medicare, insurance plans, and Medicaid – all ways of paying for long term health care.

An experienced nursing home attorney can help you decide where your elderly relatives will live. An assisted living community may be a better option than a nursing home, or perhaps your elderly relatives just need some help to live in their own home. A qualified Massachusetts nursing home attorney can help you find the best long term care solution for your family members or friends.

Do you want to tackle the probate issue that come up when an someone dies? A probate attorney can help you plan for this process. You can make a will ahead of time, so it is available when probate occurs. Often in probate a will is examined and property is appraised. Some property can avoid probate – this is why a good probate attorney should advise you of the issues at hand.

When seeking sound financial planning for an elderly relative or friend in Massachusetts, contact an elder law attorney to help you with the complex laws and issues that can make this process difficult. You’ll be happy you did, and your relatives will be glad you took the time to find them the best solutions for their financial and legal plans.

Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Assist with my Estate Plan?

If you are considering planning your estate, you may be enticed by the idea of doing it yourself to save money. Many websites offer “simple” solutions and forms that can be purchased for less than an attorney.  These forms are usually over-generalized and may not be legally viable for your unique situation. Estate planning is a complex, difficult, legal-intensive process. One wrong word or missing signature can void your entire estate plan. With an estate planning attorney there to help, you can be much more confident that any resulting trusts and documents will be tailored to your exact situation. It is all too common that someone plans their estate poorly without an attorney, which ends up costing their family time, effort, and thousands of dollars later in order to fix the problems in the estate.

Extended family in living room smiling ready for estate planningState Laws affect Estate Plans More than Anything Else and Differ Greatly Among States

State laws are extremely specific about every possible minute detail of any part of an estate plan. The exact format, procedures, language, and rules are different in every state, and a good estate planning attorney will know these differences and understand how to plan your estate accordingly.

This may not sound like a big problem, but what if your assets are in multiple states? What if your trustees are in multiple states? Estate planning attorneys understand the nuances related to these issues and can resolve them and plan your estate to fit your situation.

Common Estate Planning Issues that an Estate Planning Attorney Can Help You Solve

  • You have substantial assets in 401(k)s and/or IRAs
  • You were recently divorced
  • You recently lost a spouse or other family member
  • You have a taxable estate for federal and/or state estate tax purposes
  • You’re in a second (or later) marriage
  • You own one or more businesses
  • You own real estate in more than one state
  • You have a disabled family member
  • You have minor children
  • You have problem children
  • You don’t have any children
  • You want to leave some or all of your estate to charity

Choosing a Nursing Home

Whether for yourself or a loved one, choosing a nursing home is an important and often difficult decision. Thoroughly discuss the issue of nursing home living with the individual involved and their personal physician.  It is critical to consider the travel abilities of those who will be visting the nursing home.  The first narrowing of your search can be base on these limits.

Nursing Home Tour

1. Research and Prepare for Nursing Home Visits

  • Schedule  appointments for informational meetings and tours of nursing homes through the homes’ admissions representatives. It is important to acquire copies of the facility’s brochure, admissions policies, and the resident’s bill of rights.
  • Receive additional information by contacting the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and asking to speak with the ombudsman who represents the nursing homes that you are interested in.
  • Contact the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Division of Health Care Quality to get the “Survey Performance Tool for Nursing Homes” or a copy of survey findings and complaint reports for the nursing homes that you are considering.

2. Your Nursing Home Visits

  • Meet with the admissions representative, administrator, or other contact.
  • During your tour of the nursing home, observe and take mental notes about the interactions between staff and residents.
  • Try and speak with the residents and staff about their feelings and experiences.
  • Make observations, and do not be afraid to ask questions.

3. Narrow Your Choices and Make a Selection

  • After eliminating some of your choices, try to re-visit remaining nursing homes at a different time than you visited before.
  • Schedule a meeting with an administrator to discuss specific concerns regarding care needs or personal preferences.
  • Request that you participate in specific care planning sessions and decisions.
  • After selecting, make sure to visit often and take an active role in your loved one’s care.

If you or a loved one would like legal advice regarding estate planning, trusts, or nursing home abuse, please contact The Law Offices of Adam J. Tobin

It’s Never Too Early to Draft a Will: Tips and Information

Estate Planning and Drafting a Will

It’s never an easy topic to address, but if you care about what happens to your assets after death, creating a will is a prudent decision at any age.  Unfortunately, death can be unexpected and untimely; it is never too early to draft a will.

Last Will and TestamentDo I need a Lawyer to draft a will?

Today there are multiple websites and online providers of wills, while potentially cheaper than working with an attorney, using online avenues to create your will poses some serious risks.  Wills generated online or by programs are much lower quality overall.  They may not take differences in probate law among states into account, which could void your will.   If you have assets worth creating a will, you probably have enough money to make paying the little bit extra to work with an attorney worth it.

How much are standard attorney fees to create a will?

Fees vary, but it should not be difficult to find a qualified lawyer who will work with you to draft a will for only a few hundred dollars.  Besides probably having more expertise than a website or program, lawyers wish to keep their bar license and are therefore motivated to ensure that you receive a high-quality thorough document.  Additionally, the personal interaction is always a plus when creating a document that is so important to your personal life.

Lawyers can help fill major gaps in your legal knowledge and correct false assumptions that many people make.  For example, wills do not generally govern a person’s retirement account, which is usually someone’s most valuable asset.  There is a completely different set of rules that governs what happens to those assets.  However, if you work with an attorney to create your estate plan, you will have much more control over factors such as these, factors that you may have overlooked otherwise.

It’s as easy as asking a lawyer!  If you would like information or assistance with estate planning, contact The Law Offices of Adam J. Tobin today!

8 Reasons to Choose a Living Trust

Deciding on whether a will or a living trust is the right choice for you can be tricky. Often it comes down to whether the amount of money saved from avoiding probate is worth the cost and the effort spent on a living trust. There are advantages to both estate planning tools, and there is no standard answer to which is a better choice. Your estate plan should be chosen in a way that best benefits you and your family. We have compiled eight reasons to consider contacting a living trust attorney to construct your own living trust.

1. Living trusts take effect while you are alive. A living trust allows you to plan your estate while you are alive whereas a will takes effect only after you pass. This allows for more detailed and thoughtful dispersion of your belongings that can be tweaked over time as you see fit.

2. Living trusts hold up against incapacity. In the case of any incapacity, a living trust will make managing your estate much easier than simply having a power of attorney designated. Financial institutions have no obligation to accept power of attorneys, but they must recognize successor trustees.

3. A living trust holds up in court if someone were to contest it. Assuming someone was to contest your estate, a living trust would stand up much better to the contests than a will.

4. A living trust can provide more privacy. Because a trust does not have to go through probate (a court process that validates a will), it will not become a matter of public record. A will must be made public due to the presentation nature of the probate process.

5. Property you transfer into a living trust doesn’t go through probate. Probate courts have no control over living trusts, so any property in the trust is not part of the decedent’s probated estate. This will help reduce the probate fees. The result is that the successor trustee (the person you appoint to handle your trust after your death) only has to simply transfer ownership of the property in the trust. This process requires no court fees and takes only a few weeks to complete.

6. A living trust is designed to manage, hold, and assign assets. While a will only deals with the assignment of your assets, a living trust allows you to assign a person to manage the assets or keep them held indefinitely. Common reasons for holding assets include: the management of assets until a beneficiary is of age, providing care for pets, or protecting a beneficiary with special needs as they receive disability income.

7. Living trusts can pre-appoint a manager for a minor’s assets. While a will is needed to appoint a guardian for a child or minor, a living trust is needed in order to designate a separate guardian for the minor’s inherited assets until they are older and more fiscally responsible.

8. Living trusts can minimize estate taxes for married couples by doubling estate tax exemptions. A will alone cannot double the exemptions.

Attorney Adam Tobin, an experienced Living Trust Attorney can discern whether a trust is advisable for your personal situation. Read about the different types of trusts or contact us to arrange a free consultation with Living Trust Attorney Adam J. Tobin

Probate Lawyers and Your Estate

In an article from the Los Angeles Times’ Business section, the author breaks down how an estate plan can save taxes and avoid family fights and probate problems. It delves into the topic by discussing the subsequent fallout that can result from the lack of an estate plan.

probate70% of Americans die without an estate plan, because they do not like thinking about the subject matter of wills while they are still around. But if you are included in this statistic, and decide not to write a will or have an estate plan, your estate (with all of your assets) gets brought into a court process called probate. During this time, the court decides, based on the law of the state, who gets what. This can typically mean that after your debts are paid, your estate goes to your children and surviving spouse. If there is no immediate family, the estate goes to the next blood-or adopted- relatives.

If this doesn’t sound complicated yet, introduce a children who don’t get along, blended families, husbands and wives with separate property upon entering marriage, or your intended heirs to your estate who aren’t typically considered your closest relatives. In order to prevent wrong people getting your assets, you need a plan.

Though almost everyone needs a will and it is recommended that you find an estate planning lawyer to execute it for you, the downside is that it won’t keep your estate from probate. However, many people can and do avoid probated because it is time-consuming, public, and costly. So with the aid of a probate lawyer, make a list of your assets – and Massachusetts estate planning lawyers like Adam Tobin can assure that your final wishes will be carried out.

Finding a Probate Lawyer

The unfortunate need for a probate lawyer is typically due to death of a relative or loved one. Although this is a difficult time, your efforts should go into finding a good attorney.

So what type of probate lawyer do you need? There are two overarching types that you should be aware of: those that handle administrative duties, and those who will represent clients in court. There is the instance where a lawyer can practice both – but as a general rule, they will sway in one direction. If you are in a suit over an estate, you should look for a litigator: if not, a transaction attorney may be your best bet. An elder lawyer with expertise in trusts or estate planning will be skilled in these situations.
You’ve determined that you need an elder attorney, and even understand which one you should get. Now, how do you find them?

Do some research – start by asking friends and family. This is a trusted source for referrals, as they will have first-hand experience on a suitable lawyer. Then, do some internet searches:  make sure that you read comments and reviews to gain some insight on the elder lawyer.

Once you’ve come up with a list, follow these steps to come up with some appropriate finalists:

1. Check the practice website for biographical information, including specialties, and probateeducation.
2. Contact the state bar to determine whether or not they are in good standing.
3. Check the membership directory of local, state, and national associations. Do you see a listing for your candidate?
4. Look for individuals with practices located in the same area.
5. Ask for references.

When you are about to make a selection, make sure to factor in your instinct to your decision. It’s important to feel a connection with your lawyer, as chances are you will be embarking on an emotional journey – and they will be at your side. Make sure to contact elder lawyer Adam Tobin today to see what he can do for you.

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