Massachusetts Estate Planning
Most adults in Massachusetts don't have a last will and testament. If you die without a will, your estate—including money, real estate and other possessions—will be distributed according to a formula spelled out in Massachusetts law. Those promises you made to leave certain items to specific people? No good without a will. Your extended family who count on you to help support them? They'll probably receive nothing. Basic estate planning helps you control your destiny and allows you—not the state—to decide who gets your assets after you pass away. Talk to an estate planning attorney today to learn more.
Estate Planning Basics
The last will and testament is the most common of estate planning documents, but there are a number of available estate planning tools. Your estate planning lawyer can discuss your specific needs and recommend the right documents and tools for you.
Among the most frequently used estate planning documents:
- The last will and testament is a document used to explain how you'd like your estate distributed after your death. It can also be used to appoint an executor to oversee the distribution of your estate and to name a legal guardian for your minor children. In Massachusetts, you must be at least 18 years old and "of sound mind" to have a legally binding last will and testament.
- A living trust is another way to distribute your estate after you die. When you create a trust, you transfer into it certain assets. During your lifetime, you can freely access and use those assets. After you pass away, the trust will distribute the remaining assets to beneficiaries you've previously designated. A trust offers more privacy than a last will and testament, and because it distributes property outside of the probate process, it can be a faster way of passing bequests onto your heirs.
- A power of attorney is a document used to appoint an attorney in fact to perform certain legal and financial tasks on your behalf. Depending on the scope of the document, your attorney in fact may sign legal documents on your behalf, discuss your taxes with the Internal Revenue Service, access your financial accounts and write checks on your behalf.
- The healthcare power of attorney and living will are two medical estate-planning documents. The healthcare power of attorney is used to name a surrogate who can make medical decisions on your behalf if you're incapacitated. The living will is used to explain your end-of-life wishes.
Find & Hire Local Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorneys
Need help locating an estate planning lawyer in Boston? Want to hire a probate attorney in Springfield? Wherever you live in Massachusetts, Attorneys.com can help you quickly connect with estate planning lawyers and probate attorneys in your area. Call 877-913-7222 or fill out the form on this page to use our free lawyer referral service. After you answer a few basic questions, we'll match you with attorneys in your area.