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Estate planning gives you the opportunity to make sure that your wishes will be honored when you die and that your loved ones can receive their inheritance with the least amount of hassle. You can also create instructions for your medical care should you become incapacitated.
This article outlines some of the basics of estate planning in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Estate Planning Basics
Estate planning includes writing your will, but it goes beyond that and can include creating special accounts to ensure that your money is distributed according to your wishes and as quickly as possible after you die and minimizing the taxes which can significantly diminish the value of your estate.
Depending on your unique needs and the complexity of your estate, estate planning can include:
- Outlining exactly how you want your estate to be divided, including your bank accounts, real estate, other assets and personal items
- Designating who will care for your children
- Create a pet trust and legally binding instructions for their daily care
- Minimize the taxes which will be taken out of your estate before your loved ones receive their inheritance
- Create living trusts and special ban accounts which allow loved ones to receive their inheritance more quickly
- Designating an executor for your estate
- Designating trustees for any trusts you create
- Establishing your wishes for funeral arrangements and how they will be paid for
- Instructions or your medical care, such as whether to use “heroic measures” to artificially extend your life, in the event that you are incapacitated and cannot speak for yourself
- Designate who can make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated
- Instructions for how your affairs are to be handled, and who will be in charge of them, in the event that you become incapacitated
If You Die Without a Will in Massachusetts
If you die without a valid will, in Massachusetts, the state decides how your assets are distributed. It is called dying intestate and Massachusetts intestacy laws will dictate how your property can be distributed, and if you have minor children, who will care for them.
In addition to having no say as to who inherits your estate or how it is divided, when you die without a will you place a large and unnecessary burden on your loved ones. Your entire estate will have to go through probate which can be time consuming and expensive for loved ones. Funds which your loved ones may need immediately for their own living expenses, and for your funeral expenses, may be withheld for an extended period of time.