Wills | Power of Attorney | Healthcare Proxy | Living Wills | Revocable Trusts | Irrevocable Trusts | Elder Planning | Medicaid Planning | Probate & Estate Administration | Probate Disputes
Contrary to common perception, estate planning is not only for the rich. Everyone can benefit from having a written plan in place to ensure their assets, small or large, are preserved and protected as they age and after their death. At DaMore Law, our experienced attorneys can prepare an estate plan that will oversee the smooth division of assets between your intended beneficiaries after your death, ensure minor children will be provided for, make sure the government does not take away too much from your family in taxes, and much more. Further, and perhaps more importantly, your plan will name proxies to make medical or financial decisions for you during your life if necessary, and will lay out your medical wishes so they are known to all should you become incapacitated.
At Damore Law, we understand that every family is unique, and we will provide a free consultation to determine what personalized plan is best for you.
A standard estate planning package includes:
- A will is of utmost importance to ensure your hard-earned assets are transferred to the people you love after you die. A will dictates how you would like your real and personal property to be distributed to others, appoints guardians for minor children, and ensures your estate’s management is executed properly. While many turn to online forms or other do-it-yourself will documents, dealing with such complicated matters renders experienced legal counsel an absolute necessity.
- Power of Attorney. A power of attorney allows you to grant someone the legal ability to sign financial documents and make financial decisions on your behalf. When you execute the document, you will be given the option of having it in effect at all times (general power of attorney), only for a certain time period or for a specific transaction (limited power of attorney) or only in the case of you becoming seriously ill or mentally incapacitated (springing power of attorney). You will always have a right to terminate the power of attorney at any time.
- Health Care Proxy. A health care proxy, also known as a medical power of attorney, allows you to appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. This designation is crucial because it ensures that someone you trust will be in charge of making critical life or death decisions if you are physically or mentally unable.
- Living Will. A living will is a written document that lays out your wishes should you ever be in a medical state in which you are being kept alive by artificial means and have no reasonable means of recovery. The document allows you to say whether you want doctors to “pull the plug” and also provides other preferences such as organ donation. While not legally enforceable by itself in Massachusetts, a living will is a good way to make sure your health care proxy and your doctors are aware of your wishes when you are unable to speak for yourself.
We also have the capability at DaMore Law to create more involved estate plans, including:
- Revocable trusts. A revocable trust, also known as a living trust, grants you the power to take property and assets out of your name while you are alive, to appoint beneficiaries, and to appoint a trustee to manage the finances. This results in a smoother and quicker transfer of your assets after your death than having a simple will, as a revocable trust does not require probate proceedings. Other benefits are that they can help avoid costly estate taxes, and can be revoked at any time. However, there are multiple sides to a revocable trust that need to be considered. At DaMore Law, we ensure our clients are up-to-date with the implications of every step they aspire to take, and thus make informed decisions.
- Irrevocable trusts. Irrevocable trusts are similar to revocable trusts, but with some important differences. This type of trust can also help avoid estate taxes and probate proceedings, but they have the additional ability to prevent your assets from being taken by the state to pay for nursing home care. There are many downsides to irrevocable trusts, however. For example, once created, these trusts cannot be revoked. Our experienced attorneys can inform you of the benefits and drawbacks of each type of trust and determine which would be the best choice for you in your unique situation.
- Elder/long term care planning. Caring for aging parents and loved ones can be one of the most difficult tasks in life, both emotionally and financially. Unfortunately, many fail to adequately plan for their elder years and the burden is often left on adult children to make tough decisions regarding their parents’ care. All too often, clients come to us when their parents are about to enter a nursing home and ask what can be done to protect their assets. Unfortunately, there is often little that can be done at that point. This is why it is imperative to speak to one of our attorneys as early as possible so that a proper plan is put in place and assets can be protected. Our office works with a number of talented financial planners, assisted living facilities, and elder care experts who can also provide valuable guidance at all stages of the process.
- Medicaid planning. Given their complication and strict requirements, applications for MassHealth are typically denied multiple times before they are approved. Our office has years of experience with these matters, and can help you or your loved one correctly fill out an application as well as guide you on how to properly distribute your remaining assets so that you qualify.
- Probate and estate administration. When a person dies, a personal representative must present the will (if any) to court for validation; become appointed; file an inventory of assets; notify all heirs, beneficiaries and creditors; pay funeral expenses, debts and taxes from the estate; possibly sell the decedent’s real estate; and then distribute the assets according to the will. This process can be very confusing and burdensome, especially for someone suffering from the recent loss of a loved one. Our office will help ease that burden by filing the necessary documents for you in court, sending out notifications, and guiding and assisting you throughout the process to ensure everything is done correctly and smoothly.
- Probate dispute resolutions and litigation. An unfortunate fact of life is that when a family member dies, relatives often feel shortchanged when they see what they are, or are not, inheriting. Siblings who previously got along could enter into a heated battle over their parents’ personal, real or tangible property. Or, creditors could stake a claim on the assets, leaving family members wondering if the claims are legitimate or can be avoided. If you find yourself in some sort of dispute after the death of a family member or other loved one, our attorneys at DaMore Law can help. We have trained mediators who may be able to resolve issues without getting the court involved, as well as fierce litigators who will fight for your rights in court.