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Estate Planning Resources

The Importance of Estate Planning

Gregg, Hunt, Ahern & Embry would like to inform you of the estate practice group at our firm. It is a common misconception that estate planning is only necessary for very wealthy individuals. In reality, an estate plan is crucial regardless of what your net worth may be. Below are just a few of the many reasons why you should consider creating your estate plan or updating you existing estate planning documents.

Reason #1: Your Children

In the event that you and your spouse pass away without a Last Will & Testament in place, anyone could step forward and petition the court for guardianship of your children. In the absence of a designated guardian from a Will, a probate court judge has the ultimate say on who the guardian will be. The decision of who should play this important role in your children’s lives is one best made by you.

Reason #2: Your Disability

As part of your estate plan, it is essential to have a comprehensive and updated Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney. A Health Care Proxy allows you to nominate an individual to make emergency medical decisions on your behalf, in the event you are unable to make them for yourself. The Durable Power of Attorney allows you to nominate someone to sign your name on legal and financial documents in the event you are incapacitated. Without these documents in place, your spouse, family member or friend would need to go to your local probate court and obtain a guardianship. This is a costly, lengthy and often inefficient process that can be easily avoided by implementing these two documents in advance.

Reason #3: Your Assets

A Will allows you to leave your assets to your loved ones in whatever amounts and proportions you choose. Without a Will, Massachusetts law dictates that your individual assets be divided equally between your surviving spouse and your children. If you are not married and pass away without a Will, the court will distribute your estate to your closest living blood relatives.

In addition to a Will, there are estate planning vehicles, such as Revocable Living Trusts, that allow you to specify in great detail how you would like money held and distributed for your minor children. There are also a number of different types of Trusts available that allow you to minimize estate tax liability and maximize the amount of assets going to your children.

There are many different levels of complexity of estate planning. However, at a minimum, every individual needs a Will, Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney. Depending on your situation, it may be appropriate to have more comprehensive Trusts in place. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Attorney Sarah M. Allen, the head of the Estate Planning Department, at (617) 494-1920.

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