Category Archives: Trusts

Estate Planning Resource Roundup

According to the American Bar Association, 55 percent of Americans die without a will or estate planning documents in place. Estate planning can be a daunting task, but a qualified estate planning attorney can break down the process into doable steps for you and your family. Whether you’re a parent with young children, newly married and yet to start a family, or a senior with adult children, the time to begin the process of estate planning is now.

resource roundup

Here’s a roundup of some resources that will help you get started. We’re standing by to help you navigate and complete this process. Today is a great day to contact us and we’ll work with you every step of the way.

Getting Your Affairs in Order: Tips to Make Your Estate Planning a Smooth Process

What Is the Difference between Personal Property and Real Property?

The Dangers of a Do-It-Yourself Will

American Bar Association Estate Planning Overview

Kiplinger Estate Planning Special Report

Protecting Yourself From Senior Scammers

For more information about Massachusetts elder law contact the Law Offices of Adam Tobin today!We used to think of predators as the unscrupulous who lurked in strange places looking for vulnerable children. Today, their targets have expanded to include another vulnerable, yet trusting group: senior citizens. Because so many seniors are so isolated and because they usually have steady income and other assets, they are particularly susceptible to crimes from scammers looking for an easy payday.

It is a sad reality, but here’s how you can help protect your aging loved one. First, understand that scams can range from mail fraud asking seniors for money in exchange for an award to gaining legal rights to assets through deception. Sometimes, scammers can be complete strangers, but often they establish relationship with the senior first, then manipulate the senior for their own purposes. The best way to protect against this type of fraud is to hire an estate planning attorney to create documents such as wills, powers of attorney and living trusts. Though it may sound intimidating, a competent elder law attorney can easily walk families through the process for a much lower cost than one might think. Even if your loved one now resides in a nursing home, advice from an experienced and professional nursing home attorney or probate lawyer can protect assets, set your mind at ease and nullify scamming activity. For more information contact the Law Offices of Adam Tobin today!

Wealth Gifts to Children and Crummey Trusts

trusts-for-grandchildrenLeaving gifts of money to minor children may sound simple, but it is full of pitfalls that could prevent your intended gift from ever reaching the recipient. An elder attorney can help you set up a Crummey Trust for your gift of wealth. Cash or wealth gifts made with this kind of trust will pass down to the minor without incurring any unified gift or estate taxes. A short term window of opportunity is used to prevent taxes from affecting the total amount given to the minor when they reach a specified age.

An elder law attorney can help you understand the limits on wealth gifts as well. Adults can give gifts of up to $13,000 to their children or grandchildren each year without having to pay taxes on the gifts. The gift must be made immediately available to the recipient to avoid taxes. This is known as a present interest, as opposed to a future interest. In order to make a gift to a minor a present interest, the Crummey Trust uses a 30 day window. Within that month the child can withdraw the gift from the trust and use it. After this window closes, the money is not available until the age specificed in the trust paper work.

A Massachusetts elder attorney can help you determine the perfect age for releasing your wealth gift. A living trust attorney can also act as the administrator for the trust and manage it after the gift giver is gone. Learn more about the Crummey Trust to help your children and grandchildren make the most of your legacy of wealth.

Estate Planning To Do Check List

estate-planning-checklistDo you have elderly parents or relatives that need help with managing their money ? A MA elder lawyer can help you with wills, trusts, healthcare issues, and asset protection. An experienced elder law attorney helps you plan for the complicated issues that the elderly face with medical care, housing, and money management.

Do you need to appoint someone in the family to handle the finances ? A durable power of attorney handles the finances . when the elderly person cannot. An elder lawyer can help you choose a person if there is no one in the family to appoint and help you draw up the legal documents. A will is a complicated legal document that an elder lawyer can help you with. The elder lawyer can help draw up a document to insure family members keep certain assets in the family. He will meet with you to discuss the details and devise a sensible plan.

Some elderly clients with many assets to distribute will create trusts. A Massachusetts estate planning attorney can help you write up this document. A trust lets you pass on your assets to family or friends without court interference. There are many types of trusts: basic, special needs, living, irrevocable that an experience elder lawyer can help you set up. They can discuss which one is best for your family. After the person making a trust dies, an elder attorney can help your family protect and manage the trust fairly.

An MA elder law attorney can help you with health care proxies, Medicaid planning, probate, real estate, and even elder abuse. Whatever your needs an experienced elder lawyer can help you provide peace of mind to elderly relatives and friends that need assistance with complicated living and money issues.

Ten Reasons to Consult an Estate Planning Attorney

Helping your elderly parents face the financial and health-related challenges that come with growing older can put quite a strain on your other responsibilities. Enlisting the help of the right professionals leaves you with more time to spend with your family. Since there are complex state and federal regulations regarding wills and other paperwork necessary for settling an estate, it is best to consult an experienced estate planning attorney. There are ten specific benefits to working with an elder lawyer.

1. Ensure the last will and testament of your parent or relative is legally binding and properly designated.

2. Designate a power of attorney contract to ensure the right person is responsible for making medical and financial decisions if the person becomes incapacitated.

3. Create a living will. Living wills help your elderly relatives make their wishes clear and save you a lot of stress when the time comes for difficult decisions.

4. Avoid mistakes. A practicing estate planning lawyer can craft a strong will that covers all the bases, while most packages designed to help you do it yourself lack coverage of crucial areas.

5. Handle any business or investment transfers smoothly and without delays.

6. Address complex situations where blended or extended families are involved. Planning the estate is much more complicated if your elderly relatives have had more than one marriage.

7. Minimize the taxes heirs will need to pay by choosing the right type of trust.

8. Update and change any existing wills and estate paperwork. Changing laws and family structures make old agreements insufficient very quickly.

9. Take care of disabled family members for their rest of their life. A good probate lawyer can help craft a plan that ensures that the people in your family with special needs never go without support.

10. Make the process easier. Planning an estate is stressful for both the elderly and their helpers, but an experienced professional helps.

Top 5 Ways to Reduce Estate Taxes in Massachusetts

estate_tax_planningEstate taxes can take quite a chunk out of one’s inheritance, but there are a few ways to reduce them without getting on the wrong side of the law:

1. Charitable Transfers

Not only is giving to charity good for society, it can really reduce the level of estate taxes. This is mainly because these transfers are considered a means of reducing the total estate size. An estate planning attorney may suggest that you provide a lifetime gift in order to also reduce income taxes.

2. The Q tip trust allows married couples to reduce their estate taxes. It helps the couple to take full advantage of all federal and state exemptions. After the first spouse dies, the estate is split into three separate parts. One part is placed in a credit shelter trust. The second piece is placed in a marital trust. And the final portion can be passed directly to the surviving spouse. Depending on the age of the spouse, a nursing home attorney may be used to help divert this money to needed care.

3. Special Needs Trust

As estate holders grower older, they are more likely to become disabled. With the help of an elder attorney, a disabled senior is eligible to put money into a special needs trust for use in paying medical bills. Not only does this allow those with special needs to pay for expensive treatment, it reduces the total level of taxation on the estate.

4. Family-Owned Business

If you own a family business, your estate planning lawyer will advise you to use that information when planning your estate. There is a federal deduction allowed to those working in family-owned businesses. However, a family business needs to meet a number of specific qualifications in order to be eligible for the tax deduction. First, the business needs to be located in the United States and the owner or owners must be United States citizens. Next, the decedent must have worked with the business for at least five years and must own at least half of it. The resulting interest deduction may not be worth founding a new family business for, but it can help out greatly if you already own one.

5. Actual Use

This type of estate savings is one of the most difficult to come by, and will definitely require the expertise of a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer. You may already have noticed that real estate is valued at its highest possible value. For some people, this results in land being valued higher than it actually should be. Special permits can be obtained to lower the value to its “actual use,” thus allowing estate owners to pay a far lower tax rate than would otherwise be possible.

For more information, please contact the Law Offices of Adam Tobin, today!

What is the Difference between Personal Property and Real Property

Let your Massachusetts Estate Planning Lawyer help you with real property.

Let your Massachusetts Estate Planning Lawyer help you with real property.

When it comes to estate planning, the most important step is to find an elder law attorney. It helps to have an impartial mind at work to make sure your assets are taken care of properly. A Massachusetts elder lawyer can help with wills, set up trusts and making sure that documents concerning transfer of property are done correctly. Most importantly, you’ll be able to ask questions throughout the process. One topic of discussion with your estate planning lawyer will be the difference between personal property and real property. Both are defined by Federal Law.

Real property is your land and any structures you have built on that land. This can include your home, commercial and/or agricultural buildings. As an example, if you own a farm, your real property includes the acreage of that farm and all buildings on that farm.

Personal property includes all other property, such as cars, boats, clothing and furniture as well as stocks, bonds, bank accounts and other personal items. Going back to the farm analogy, your barn would be your real property, but your tractors and other farm equipment would be considered personal property. Changing this to a city scenario, your house is real property, but all the furniture, appliances (except built-in) and your car are personal property.

It is important to understand this concept when planning your estate. When land is transferred, whether by sale or inheritance, by law all real property is included in that transfer. Unless there is a specific agreement, personal property is not included. Your estate planning lawyer will make sure that the details of your estate outline any such special agreements.

Planning an estate can be a complicated issue. Some of the forms, particularly to do with the transfer of property, are complex and there is no room for error. Protect your family’s future, and preserve your peace of mind by getting an elder lawyer to help with that planning. Contact the Law Offices of Adam Tobin.

Tips For Making Your Estate Planning a Smooth Process

estate-planning-paperworkIf you feel that the time has come for you, or an elderly loved one, to truly finalize your estate planning, the time is now to contact an elder law attorney or an estate planning lawyer. When you go for your consultation with a Massachusetts living trust attorney, it is important to have in mind an idea of how you would like your estate planning to go. Below are some useful tips and guidelines that will help you as you work with your Massachusetts elder lawyer.

1. Consider including a simultaneous death clause, which will pass your estate onto your children in the event that your spouse dies shortly after you do.

2. In order to disinherit a child, you must spell that out in your will.

3. Remember to keep beneficiaries on your pension, life insurance and 401K current.

4. Be sure to designate an executor as well as a back up executor.

5. Store your personal and private information in one designated location in the home, preferably a fire proof safety deposit box. This box should include important personal and financial records, as well as computer passwords and PIN numbers.

6. Understand the impact of estate taxes and discuss with your estate planning attorney some options for reducing or avoiding estate taxes.

Remember that upon your death, your family and loved ones will be going through an emotionally taxing as well as stressful time, and you will help them considerably by having your affairs in order. It is important to recognize that with age comes certain responsibilities, and that the sooner you have your estate and other affairs in order, the better off you and your loved ones will be. Contact an elder attorney with any questions you might have regarding Massachussetts and even federal law, and set up an appointment to begin the process of finalizing your affairs. You will feel at ease, and your family will be glad to know that an already taxing time will be much less stressful because of your willingness to work ahead.

The Dangers of a Do-it-Yourself Last Will

do-it-yourself-last-willA do-it-yourself will sounds like a simple and inexpensive way to let your loved ones know your wishes in the event of your death. Doing your own will at home, however, may end up leading to avoidable problems such as taxation and court battles. Do-it-yourself wills may seem like a good deal, but the money put out later could cost a lot more than using an estate planning lawyer to draw up your documents.

Do-it-yourself wills may prove to be invalid if you do not follow all state and federal laws. For instance, if you used a witness with an invested interest in your estate, the will may not hold up in court. It must also be proven that the signatures found on the will were properly witnessed. Also, if the original will can’t be produced, your wishes may not be followed. An estate planning lawyer typically stores your will in a fireproof location to ensure the original can be produced in court. An estate planner could also be called into court and testify about the validity about the claims included in the will.

The language used in the will must be perfect for claims to be valid. As an example, a court could interpret the wording wrong and subject your assets to costly estate taxes. Estate taxes can deplete the funds you leave behind for your beneficiaries. Instead, meet with an estate planning attorney to go over the language and inclusions of your documents to prevent will contests. Otherwise, your family may then be forced into a legal battle and be forced to pay an exorbitant amount of court and probate lawyer fees.

The biggest downfall of a do-it-yourself-will package? You don’t receive personalized advice from an estate planning attorney. The will software packages can provide general advice, but won’t be helpful if you have a more unique situation. Will software packages are not likely to provide you with guidelines on how to handle domestic partnerships, children from other marriages, disinherited children or special needs children. As an example, a stepfather who claims in his do-it-yourself will to leave all his assets to his children may find his stepchildren cut out of any inheritance money he meant for them. Also, living trusts and power of attorney are not usually properly handled in online will programs. In these cases, set up a consultation with a living trust attorney.

Do-it-yourself will software packages may require you to fix errors later on. Get your will right the first time by meeting with a licensed and professional estate planning attorney. Reduce family conflict by clearly stating your wishes and keeping the proper documentation stored with a lawyer. The Law offices of Adam Tobin is waiting to hear from you to create your legal and valid last will and testament.

Picking the Right Trustee

estate-planning-trusteeYou don’t need to be a living trust attorney to understand just how difficult estate planning can be. One of the most challenging parts of planning an estate is choosing the appropriate trustee. An estate’s trustee is the person responsible for managing all assets in your Revocable Living Trust. You can choose to have a person, organization or company represent you as the chief trustee.

It is important to find someone who will be dedicated to carrying out your wishes, whether or not that person agrees with the direction you’ve chosen for your estate. You also need to find a trustee who will act with complete responsibility. Here are a few other considerations to think about when selecting a trustee:

Trustworthiness

The word trust is included in trustee for a reason: the trustee must be a person or an organization that you trust. The trustee is going to have a lot of control over your estate, so it would not be prudent to choose someone who you didn’t feel was capable of carrying out that task.

Family Members

Depending on the type of trust you’re holding, your family members may or may not be able to serve as trustee. You’ll want to check with your estate planning attorney to ensure that a family member is eligible to be named trustee. You’ll also want to take the ages of potential trustees into account if you are thinking of naming your children or grandchildren. As in most states, the minimum age to be named a trustee in Massachusetts is 21.

There are certain advantages to remaining in the family. The reduced cost is definitely something worth considering. You are likely already paying the fees for a probate lawyer, elder attorney or other professionals. A family trustee would mean one less bill to pay. The main disadvantage of naming a family member as the trustee is that he or she probably has absolutely no experience in these matters. The responsibilities of trustees have grown increasingly complicated, so you may not feel it is your place to give a family member such as huge responsibility to take care of.

Professional Advisor

Some people feel that estate planning is best left in the family, but there are certain advantages to hiring a professional to carry out the process. A professional advisor understands the entire estate planning process, and will be more likely to keep all records and information organized. The professional can work closely with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney to keep everything in order. Although there is some extra cost involved in hiring a professional, you may actually end up saving money in the long run. A professional trustee will know how to minimize estate taxes and other costs typically associated with estate planning. In the end, you’ll want to discuss such considerations with your family so that you can make the appropriate decision.