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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.

There are many reasons to have an estate plan

Estate planning is an often overlooked area of responsibility for many Massachusetts residents. While some individuals may not believe that they have enough money to justify creating estate plans, others may worry about getting their plans right and not offending any of their family members with their decisions. Despite their concerns, pretty much anyone can benefit from having a basic estate plan in place.

One reason is because an estate plan is not just a set of rules for what to do when someone passes on. In fact, certain estate planning documents can be vitally important to ensuring the care and financial management of a person who may become incapacitated. In an estate plan a person may appoint individuals to manage their affairs and make medical decisions for them in the event that they are not able to do so.

Organization is key to applying for MassHealth

There is no secret that health care costs in the United States are astronomical. Any Massachusetts resident who has had to visit an emergency room or undergo an unexpected medical procedure can attest to the exorbitant costs that may appear on their bills once they are home and recuperating. Though individuals with health insurance may see those balances negotiated down by their providers, people who have limited or no health care coverage can be left with significant and burdensome debts.

MassHealth is an important form of government-based assistance for individuals who require long-term support and care. The costs of providing for someone with a medical condition or who has reached an advanced age are incredibly high, and MassHealth can help those in need cover those necessary and important expenses. In order to apply for MassHealth benefits, individuals must pull together extensive documentation.

What legal issues can complicate the end of a person's life?

For most individuals, growing old is a blessing. As they age they are able to witness their kids and grandchildren grow and find their own successes. Many are able to bestow upon their loved ones gifts to make their lives easier and more enjoyable.

Massachusetts residents who are lucky enough to reach old age may wish to protect their financial health and legal rights by addressing some of the issues that can complicate their remaining years.

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