Is your estate plan all that it should be?

On Behalf of | Aug 29, 2023 | Estate Planning

If you have an estate plan in place, are you confident that it contains everything that it should to protect your legacy and your heirs? If it’s missing something, now is the time to make adjustments to your estate plan so that it will be the most effective after you are no longer here to make decisions. On the other hand, if you don’t have an estate plan yet, it is a really good idea to become acquainted with what should and shouldn’t be in your plan for the future.

It is very important for you to either have a will or a trust so that everything will be distributed according to your wishes, not according to the state of Massachusetts. After all, the assets are yours and you should have every right to say where they go.

Are your affairs in order?

Estate planning gives you a way to preserve your wealth both during your life and well into the future. It also makes your wishes legally enforceable after you are gone. Your plan can also designate a person or persons who can make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and are not able to make decisions for yourself.

If you don’t have an estate plan when you pass away, depending on who survives you, there will be several possible outcomes. For example, if you are married but have no children when you pass, your spouse will get everything. If this is according to your wishes, that is fine. However, it may not be what you want. What’s more, putting your wishes in a will can save your heirs a lot of money in probate fees, attorney fees and more.

How can an estate plan benefit you if you are still alive?

An estate plan is not only beneficial once you are no longer here. It is also beneficial while you are still living. An estate plan typically includes a durable power of attorney or a health care proxy so that someone of your choosing can make decisions on your behalf regarding medical treatment if you are unable to make those decisions on your own.

Additionally, if you have minor children, you can make provisions for your children in your estate plan. If there is no surviving parent, a court-appointed guardian will make the important decisions for your children.

Is it enough to just have a will in Massachusetts?

Many people in the United States don’t have any sort of will. If you do have a will, you are ahead of the game. However, only having a will is probably not enough. If that is the only document in your estate plan, your family may still need to go through probate when you pass.

Also, your will doesn’t have anything to do with jointly owned property. The law says that jointly owned property must go to the surviving joint owner if the other owner passes. The will cannot dictate who can take care of you when you are still living, only after you have passed on.

Exactly what should go into an estate plan?

The essential documents that should go into an estate plan are the following:

  • Will or living trust: This document outlines what will happen to your assets after you are gone.
  • Document naming a guardian: This is important if you have minor children.
  • Durable power of attorney: This document is to deal with your affairs if you have become incapacitated.
  • Health care proxy: This document is to execute your wishes regarding medical treatment in the event that you are incapacitated and are not able to make decisions for yourself.

If your estate plan doesn’t contain all of these documents, it is a good idea to contact an estate attorney to help you to finalize them. The most important thing is that you and your estate and your beneficiaries are protected and the proper estate plan will enable to you make sure that it is the case.