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Boston Area Elder Law Blog

What is the probate process?

The Massachusetts probate process may seem complex and difficult to understand, but it does not have to be that way. Getting answers to common questions about what the probate process is can help estate planners and families know what to expect from probate.

Probate essentially refers to the transfer of property following the death of the estate planner. Property is usually transferred by will and the probate process collects property, pays debts from the estate and ensures the property is distributed according to the wishes of the estate planner. The probate process ensures that the will was valid and is a process conducted by the court. In general, probate may be contested or uncontested. The process involves collecting all probate property of the estate planner; collecting all rights to income or dividends; paying all debts and claims against the estate and taxes owed by the estate; settling any disputes; and distributing and transferring remaining property to the estate planner's heirs.

The important elements of an effective estate plan

There are a variety of documents that are the foundation of an effective estate plan. An estate plan can be useful and important at any stage of life whether the estate planner is concerned about planning for their children or ensuring their assets are distributed how they wish for them to be distributed.

A comprehensive and effective estate plan can be helpful for both the present and future of the estate planner. An effective overall estate plan that is thorough and carefully thought out can help provide peace of mind for the estate planner and also help prevent potential conflicts family members may have to resolve down the road during an exceptionally difficult time.

Estate planning after a divorce

Divorces later in life are becoming more common. Once the kids are grown, couples are discovering that they have nothing in common and decide to split. These so-called "gray divorces" have tripled in number since 1990. However, this creates a whole new set of considerations, particularly when it comes to retirement planning.

The basics of Medicare coverage

The commercials for financial advising companies make it seem so easy. Put some money away each month and 20 to 30 years later you will be able to everything you wished you were able to do while you spent your professional life making a normal life for your family. But there is more to retirement planning. The money you put away and the lifestyle you subscribe to is not only about preparing a nice cushy life for yourself as you grow old. As a matter of fact, retirement planning should include health care planning.

As people grow older, their medical expenses may increase. Even though the average retiree may already have coverage, it may not be sufficient to cover important medical expenses, such as preventative screenings and critical medications. This is why the use of Medicare coverage may be a possibility. This post will provide some basics on Medicare.

Guardianship: Providing plenary or limited aid

Your parent is aging quickly, and you worry that they no longer can accurately maintain their finances. Perhaps your parent’s hygiene or health is deteriorating, and you want to ensure that all aspects of their life are appropriately monitored. In a previous post, we discussed when your parent may need the appointing of a guardian. Now, we want to discuss the two variations of guardianship that Massachusetts offers families.


Avoiding probate possible, but not definite, with estate plan

The loss of a loved one who is near and dear to your heart will have lasting effects on your life. However, we all pass on at some point, so it's best to plan for that passing to make it smoother on loved ones and others that will be impacted by the death. When a person looks at their life, they may have amassed many assets or responsibilities along the way. An estate plan can help to distribute those assets in a way that one sees fit.

For many, their wish is to leave their assets to family members and other important people in their life. The last thing anyone wants is for loved ones to be fighting over the person's estate or claiming that the instructions left for the executor are not valid or are in some way lacking. If these claims were to arise, a person's estate may have to pass through probate. Probate is a process undesired by many in which the state wants to monitor the process for possible fraud. To do so, there are a series of rules and regulations that must be followed to ensure that all property passes to heirs as intended.

Planning for the possibility of losing a spouse

What would happen if one’s spouse were to pass away isn’t something people generally like to think about. This may tempt individuals to put off planning for this occurrence. A recent survey indicates that many people don’t have plans in place for responding to the death of a spouse. In the survey, a little over half of the widows polled reported that they and their spouse didn’t have such plan.

Preparing for the possibility of one day being a widow or a widower, however, can be very important for married individuals. The death of a spouse can leave a person facing a lot of financial challenges moving forward. How much planning a person has done in advance can impact how well-positioned they are to tackle these challenges.

Do you qualify for MassHealth? Your potential benefits

Though the decision may prove difficult, understanding the right time to move into a nursing home proves beneficial for both you and your family caretakers. Nursing home care exhibits high costs, but you do not want the burden of expensive care to fall on your loved ones.

In Massachusetts, your eligibility in the MassHealth program may save you money, so that you can focus your time in paying for only necessary living care. MassHealth works to provide you medical benefits provided by both Massachusetts and federal law. Your comfortable living situation matters greatly in terms of prolonging your health, and you may want to enroll to begin receiving well-deserved benefits.

When do you need an elder law attorney?

When you are healthy and young, it can be easy to put estate planning and long-term care to the side. However, as we age - or our parents age - careful planning becomes necessary. If you, your spouse or a parent has health issues, this type of planning may become vitally important.

An elder law attorney can provide you with advice and help you develop a plan. Elder law attorneys specialize in handle issues facing seniors as they age. This includes a wide range of legal matters such as estate planning, asset protection, Medicaid/MassHealth planning and similar issues.

Caring for a loved one can cause stress and health issues

As a caregiver, you are not alone. There are millions of individuals across the U.S. who provide care for spouses, parents and loved ones. However, the level of care needed to look after a loved one with Alzheimer's, dementia and similar incapacitating conditions can take its toll on your own health.

Stress and high blood pressure

Caring for a loved one is stressful. You may need to make medical decisions, financial decisions and coordinate for your loved one's care. This takes time, energy and an emotional toll.

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