April 22, 2018

Estate Planning

Our estate planning attorneys will help you design a plan for continued management of your personal, family and financial concerns, if you become unable or unavailable to do so yourself. Most people have three goals in mind as they develop their estate plans: (1) to appoint trusted people to manage their affairs; (2) to ensure that their property passes to people or institutions that are important to them; and (3) to keep costs and taxes to a minimum.

We make providing professional, efficient, and effective legal services, our top priority.

We take time to collect your family and financial information, and ask questions about your concerns and priorities. You can then make intelligent decisions about support of your family, tax issues and disposition of your property.

Our planning services include:

If you already have estate planning documents, we will review them and may recommend adjustments, complete overhaul, or no changes at all, depending on your current circumstances and applicable changes in the law. For example, if your will appoints a guardian for your minor children, we will discuss whether the appointed person is still available and appropriate to serve now. We may suggest trust amendments to take advantage of changes in tax laws.

Durable Power of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney is a document that names another person, an “Attorney-in-Fact,” to make business and financial decisions on your behalf. This is a very powerful document and the original should be safeguarded.

There are two types of Durable Powers of Attorney for planning purposes – (1) a “springing” Durable Power of Attorney, which doesn’t go into effect unless and until you become incapacitated, and (2) a “current grant” Durable Power of Attorney, which goes into effect the moment that you sign it. It is important for you to understand the practical and legal implications of each.

Health Care Proxy

In Massachusetts, you have the right to name, in a health care proxy, the person who will be authorized to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to do so yourself. The Health Care Agent has the right and the obligation to make the same decisions that you would make. You may list alternates to serve if your primary Proxy is unavailable, but only one may serve at a time.

You have the right to accept or refuse medical treatment as you see fit. Living Wills explain your beliefs about emergency and end-of-life medical care. You can insert specific treatments that you would, or would not, want. Living wills are not legally enforceable in Massachusetts, but they provide guidance about what you would want under the circumstances. We recommend that our clients review the One Slide Project at www.engagewithgrace.org for ideas about how to discuss these issues with their families.

HIPAA Authorizations, which we draft into your health care proxies and durable powers of attorney, provide your fiduciaries with access to your health care information as needed to fulfill their roles.

Declaration of Homestead

Under current law, homeowners automatically have some protection for the equity in their homes. By signing and recording in the Registry of Deeds a simple document, you can expand this protection to cover up to $500,000.00 in your primary residence.

Long Term Care Planning

No one wants or expects to reside in a long-term care facility, but the reality is that many of us will need that level of 24-hour care at some point in our lives. The financial and emotional costs can be devastating to the elder and the elder’s family.

Our first goal is to educate you about the interplay between health insurance, private payment, Medicare and Medicaid progress as a person needs more intervention and care. The government has established a system to ensure care for all, while balancing financial contributions between private and public pay for that care. We will discuss the applicable rules and regulations in relation to your own personal and financial circumstances, and inform you about planning options. Because the government is constantly changing and updating regulations, our education and exchange of information is an ongoing process.

We will help you make the important decisions and take all steps to implement the plans that you make. This makes the long-term care process easier for you and for the people who are closest to you.