Newburyport Estate Planning/Elder Law Attorneys
Connolly & Connolly • Newburyport, Massachusetts • (978) 961-0047
The term “estate planning” can be misleading because it suggests that if you do not have a large “estate” you do not need to have a plan for what happens in the event of your incapacity or death, and that is not the case. Planning ahead is good advice for everyone.
Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxies
Have you considered what would happen in the event of physical or mental incapacity? Who would have the legal authority to write checks, pay bills or make health care decisions? With a Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy, you may appoint someone you know and trust to make legal, financial and health care decisions for you, in the event of your incapacity. You may make your wishes known regarding life support and end of life treatments, as well as your preferences regarding burial, cremation and funeral and memorial services, by executing a written Declaration of Intent. These simple documents ensure that your wishes are known and followed. If you do not select someone of your choice to act for you in the event of your incapacity, a court may have to make that decision for you by appointing a guardian or conservator.
The Simple Will
A Simple Will is a basic estate plan that provides for the disposition of your property upon your death. In a Will, you select your choice of Executor to execute the terms of your Will, and appoint the persons you trust to serve as Guardian of any minor children. In order to be given effect, a Will must be probated, which is the formal judicial process in the Probate Court by which a Will is formally presented and allowed by the court. Until the Will is allowed and the executor is appointed, no one has legal authority to deal with probate assets, which may delay the ability to access cash for the payment of expenses.
The Multipurpose Trust
If you want to avoid probate, plan for incapacity, defer a loved one’s inheritance, or have a more comprehensive plan, then a Trust would be an appropriate estate planning vehicle to consider. With a Revocable Grantor Trust, you, as the “Grantor” would establish the trust and retain the reserved power to revoke or amend the trust as you please during your lifetime. You could serve as the initial Trustee, and the trust would designate successor trustees, to serve in your place in the event of your incapacity or death. Upon your death, your property would be distributed to your named beneficiaries, as set forth in the trust. If you transfer your assets to your trust during your lifetime, you would be able to avoid probate.
Estate Tax Planning with Marital and Credit Shelter Trusts
For larger estates, that exceed either the state or federal taxable threshold, more complex trusts that incorporate Marital Trusts and Credit Shelter Trusts are designed to minimize or eliminate estate taxes.
Irrevocable Trusts, Special Needs Trusts and Charitable Trusts
Irrevocable Trusts, Special Needs Trusts and Charitable Trusts are additional tools available to accomplish specific estate planning goals and objectives. Irrevocable Trusts may be used to own life insurance policies on the life of the Donor; gifts made to the trust may be used by the trustee to pay life insurance premiums; upon the death of the Donor, the life insurance proceeds may pass to the beneficiaries, free of estate taxes. A Special Needs Trust is customarily established to benefit a disabled individual, without adversely impacting the individual’s ability to receive governmental benefits. For the individual or family that wants to benefit a particular charity, or general charitable purposes, there are numerous types of charitable trust options, including Charitable Remainder Trusts, Charitable Lead Trusts and Charitable Annuity Trusts and Family Charitable Foundations. A planned charitable gift, as part of an estate plan, may also provide enhanced income tax and estate tax benefits.
If you own or have an interest in a family business or family compound, succession planning will ensure that your family’s legacy is passed on to the next generation in a tax efficient manner that avoids disruption or family conflict.
There is an overlap between general Estate Planning and Elder Law. Elder Law focuses on the special issues and concerns of the elder client. In addition to planning for incapacity and for the orderly and tax efficient disposition of an elderly client’s assets, elder law includes long term care planning and planning for the protection of the home and other assets. The attorneys at Connolly & Connolly are experienced in preparing Medicaid trusts and advising clients regarding the Medicaid regulations.
Estate Planning is a large umbrella category that encompasses a full range of considerations along life’s continuum from the young couple with a minor child to the elderly client who is contemplating long term care needs .The attorneys at Connolly & Connolly will work closely with you to create an estate plan that is specifically designed and tailored to meet your personal needs and objectives.
For an Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney with the knowledge and experience to develop a plan that is right for you, contact the Law Offices of Connolly & Connolly.