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The responsibilities of guardians of incapacitated adults

Americans are living longer than ever, and this can mean that some adults are reaching ages where they are physically functional but intellectually and mentally strained. In some circumstances, a person's body may endure longer than their mind, and this can mean that despite their apparent health, they are unable to care for themselves and their own needs. In Massachusetts an aged adult may have a guardian appointed if they are considered incapacitated and unable to take care of their own needs.

Guardians for incapacitated adults may be granted plenary or limited guardianships. A plenary guardianship is complete, which means that the guardian has the power to control all aspects of the incapacitated person's care. When limited guardianship is granted, the guardian will be given specific tasks to manage for the other person and that person will maintain some of their own rights and privileges.

Why do some try to avoid the probate process?

Probate is a legal process that endeavors to settle outstanding issues that are related to the disposition of individuals' end-of-life estates. For some Massachusetts residents, probate is a necessary component of closing out the legal and financial issues that come up when someone passes away. For others, it is a relatively expensive experience that may deprive beneficiaries of some of the wealth and assets they are supposed to receive.

One of the reasons that probate can be costly is because it can take a long time to complete. During probate, an estate administrator works to find assets, identify property, locate beneficiaries, pay creditors, and undertake many other important responsibilities. They can run into roadblocks as they work to find this and other information, and any delays can extend the amount of time that it may take to close out an estate.

Are you ready to take the first steps of estate planning?

Many Massachusetts residents have different reasons for wanting to create their estate plans. You may want to protect assets or ensure that your minor children have the right guardian in the event of your passing. Whatever the reason, you certainly want to get your estate planning underway.

Though determining goals is an important part of the estate planning process, if you do not understand the various uses of an estate plan, you may miss out on considering some goals that may help your overall plan. As a result, getting reliable information before starting the planning process may prove useful to you.

Important considerations for those looking into nursing homes

When a Massachusetts resident makes a long-term plan for their financial management and personal care, they may include in their budget the costs of needing to eventually live in a nursing home.

Nursing homes and other care facilities provide invaluable services to individuals who do not have the capacity to provide necessary care for themselves. In a nursing home, a resident may be given medical care, help with managing their own personal needs, and have friendship through interactions with other residents and staff.

Estate planning is for everyone

By now, readers of this Massachusetts-based legal blog know that an estate plan can be a beneficial tool for individuals to have prepared. It can help families protect their wealth and ensure that money goes where it is intended. It can also provide guidance to survivors when loved ones pass away.

It is often thought, though, that not everyone needs an estate plan. A person may justify avoiding the topic by claiming that they are single, that they have no children, or that they do not have significant wealth. This assumption is a fallacy, however, because everyone, regardless of their relationship status or net worth, can take control of their assets with several key estate planning documents.

Who may apply for MassHealth benefits?

In Massachusetts, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program are run under the program of MassHealth. MassHealth is an important service for older residents as it provides them with support for their healthcare and long-term care needs. This post will address how older Massachusetts residents may qualify and apply for MassHealth services, but all readers should seek their own legal support before they begin their own MassHealth applications.

Individuals who apply to MassHealth for healthcare and long-term care support must be residents of the state. Individuals who visit the state or who only vacation within Massachusetts for short periods of time may not qualify. This helps to ensure that Massachusetts residents are able to get the support that they need.

What you need to update after joining a blended family

Marrying a second time is rarely an easy task. It may feel great to have a spouse by your side once again, but you may also feel more pressure in trying to ensure that you don’t end up with another divorce. You may need a while to adjust, especially if you or your new spouse had children before this marriage.

This new lifestyle also means you need to make some changes to your estate plan. Neglecting to update or even have a will or trust after a second marriage means there is a higher chance that your assets may end up in the wrong hands. While not every part of your initial estate plan needs modification, it would still be wise to examine all elements and consider how your new circumstances should apply to your estate plan as a whole.

Under what circumstances may probate be necessary?

Many Massachusetts residents take it upon themselves to prepare estate plans that minimize their chances of having to go through probate. Probate is not an inherently bad process, but it can be time consuming and costly if it drags on long after a decedent's passing. There are several sets of circumstances that can individuals to utilize the probate courts so as to avoid other possible legal problems in the administration of estates.

Probate may be required if the decedent had a will executed prior to their death. Though the will alone may seem like enough to use find and distribute the decedent's assets, when questions or concerns about the will's validity exist, a probate court may be needed to sort those issues out. Additionally, a will may not fully inform the heirs how to distribute all of a decedent's assets, and probate may therefore be needed to provide clarity on certain items of property.

Planning for the future can provide stability for the elderly

When a Massachusetts resident is a young adult, their retirement years may seem like a faraway dream. They may not be able to comprehend how much money they will have to save so that they may one day leave their job and live off of their investments, nor may they be able to fathom the expenses that they will have to pay for out of pocket once they are no longer employed. For some, planning for retirement and advanced age do not happen until it is almost too late.

Planning for elder life is important for families who wish to ensure that their aging relatives have comfortable experiences as they grow older. The subject of elder law includes a number of issues, including but not limited to understanding health and long-term care options, ensuring that estate plans are in order, and addressing sensitive topics such as guardianship with those who may need support.

How long can an estate be stuck in the probate courts?

As with all legal matters, readers should be aware that their individual probate timelines may be very different from those of others who also must go through the process. As every Massachusetts resident will pass on with a unique estate, the individual characteristics of their property, assets, and wealth will influence if their probate process is lengthy or brief. Therefore, this post is offered as information only and not legal guidance on any individual probate situation.

In the first few months after a decedent passes on, their will may be validated and their administrator located. The estate may then be subject to a probate hearing, which will address issues with the estate and may include the identification of creditors. During the first year of the probate process, items of property identified by the decedent may be located so that they may later be distributed to beneficiaries.

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Boston Area Elder Law Blog | Center For Elder Law & Estate Planning