FIVE REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE A LIVING WILL

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A health care proxy and a living will are both directives used by individuals to control the medical treatment they receive in the event that they become incapable of making or communicating health care decisions in the future. Even though a Living Will is NOT legally enforceable in Massachusetts it is still a good document to have in your estate plan.

Here are five reasons why you should have a valid living will:

First Reason….

Massachusetts gives explicit recognition and protections only to health care proxies. So why should you have a Living Will in Massachusetts?  Your Health Care Agent has the ultimate authority regarding end of life care, but a living will is a good source of guidance for your family, doctors and your Health Care Agent.

 Second Reason…

A living will sets for the specific written instructions that you have regarding your treatment preferences in various hypothetical medical situations.  Living wills tend to focus on end-of-life situations and decisions about pursuing or terminating treatment, including life-sustaining measures.

Third Reason…

If a disagreement occurs among your family members while you are incapacitated over what the right medical decisions are for you, the person who has the authority to make your health care decisions can use the Living Will as evidence to support their decisions.

Fourth Reason…

The Living Will is your own expression of your attitudes and wishes about your health care that was executed while you were competent. It  is sometime called a Personal Wishes Statement.

Fifth Reason…

Even though there is no legal significance to the Living Will, most physicians will follow the directions you state in the document. This is especially true if you have taken the time to discuss your wishes and desires with your primary care physician before an emergency situation arises.

Have questions or concerns about your estate planning? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com 

COMMON REASONS TO UPDATE YOUR WILL

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A valid will can fulfill several purposes. A will directs the distribution of the signer's probate estate after the signer's death. It nominates fiduciaries, provides the fiduciary with the authority they need to act and it disposes of probate assets. The will nominates a Personal Representative who will guide the estate through the probate process.  

Drafting a Last Will and Testament is not an enjoyable task for many of us. Once we draft a will, we tuck it away some where safe and forget about it. That’s not advisable. There are many reasons for you to pull out that Will and review it every three to five years.

Here are just a few reasons for you to make updates to what you once thought was ‘perfect.’

  • You had children and they are not listed in the existing will.

  • You need to name a guardian for your minor children or maybe you want to change the person you selected.

  • You got married.

  • You had minor children when you drafted the existing will and now they are grown with their own children.

  • Your assets greatly decreased.

  • The people you named in the will as beneficiaries are deceased.

  • You got divorced.

  • If you moved to a new state you need to make sure your will confirms with the requirements of your new state. Each state has its own legal requirements for drafting and executing a Last Will and Testament.

  • Your assets greatly increased.

  • Your spouse predeceases you.

  • You want different people to fulfill the roles necessary… personal representative, guardian, etc.

 Never try to change a will by writing in the margins, crossing out words, lines, or sections of the original will. This only invites confusion, and is likely to lead to drawn-out conflicts over your will. Always seek out the advice of a local attorney. Sometimes you can just add a codicil to your Last Will and Testament. A codicil is a separate document that adds to or replaces one or more provisions in an existing will while leaving the rest of the will untouched and valid.

Have questions or concerns about your estate planning? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549

YOUR #1 NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION SHOULD BE GETTING YOUR ESTATE PLAN IN ORDER

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So have you ever stopped to think about what will happen if you die? Now I'm talking about the philosophical argument about heaven/hell. I'm talking about what will happen to the people and things you leave behind? Being proactive and planning for your family’s future is a necessity in today’s world. If you do not take the time to plan, the state will step in and dictate what happens to your minor children and your worldly possessions. Wouldn't you rather be in control of what happens? 

In general, most estate plans will include at a minimum a combination of the following legal documents:

Will:

A will can fulfill several purposes. It nominates fiduciaries, provides the fiduciary with the authority they need to act and it disposes of probate assets. The will nominates a Personal Representative who will guide the estate through the probate process.  

Durable Power of Attorney:

A durable power of attorney is a document whereby one person, the principal, appoints another person, the agent or attorney-in-fact, to act as his or her attorney-in-fact. The person serving need not be an attorney so, to some extent, the term “attorney” is a misnomer. The attorney-in-fact, in effect, stands in the shoes of the principal and acts for him or her on financial, business, or other matters.

Health Care Proxy:

A Health Care Proxy is a legal document that allows you to name someone you know and trust to make health care decisions for you if, and only if, you are unable to make or communicate those decisions yourself.

Living Wills:

A living will sets forth the specific written instructions of the principal regarding his or her treatment preferences in various hypothetical situations. Living wills tend to focus on end-of-life situations and decisions about pursuing or terminating treatment, including life-sustaining measures.

Declaration of Homestead:

The Homestead Act allows Massachusetts homeowners to protect their home from future creditors.  The Act was updated and effective as of March 16, 2011. The updated Act allows homeowners to choose between an Automatic Homestead, which is effective without a written declaration and a written Declaration of Homestead. The amount of the Automatic Homestead protection is $125,000. When a written Declaration of Homestead is filed the exemption increases to $500,000. Both the homeowner and his/her spouse must sign the declaration form.

Contact Attorney Curran to discuss your  estate planning options: 

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

ARE YOU PREPARED FOR THE INEVITABLE?

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Being proactive and planning for your family’s future is a necessity in today’s world. If you do not take the time to plan, the state will step in and dictate what happens to your worldly possessions. In general, most estate plans will include at a minimum a combination of the following legal documents:

Will:

A will can fulfill several purposes. It nominates fiduciaries, provides the fiduciary with the authority they need to act and it disposes of probate assets. The will nominates a Personal Representative who will guide the estate through the probate process.  

Durable Power of Attorney:

A durable power of attorney is a document whereby one person, the principal, appoints another person, the agent or attorney-in-fact, to act as his or her attorney-in-fact. The person serving need not be an attorney so, to some extent, the term “attorney” is a misnomer. The attorney-in-fact, in effect, stands in the shoes of the principal and acts for him or her on financial, business, or other matters.

Health Care Proxy:

A Health Care Proxy is a legal document that allows you to name someone you know and trust to make health care decisions for you if, and only if, you are unable to make or communicate those decisions yourself.

Living Wills:

A living will sets forth the specific written instructions of the principal regarding his or her treatment preferences in various hypothetical situations. Living wills tend to focus on end-of-life situations and decisions about pursuing or terminating treatment, including life-sustaining measures.

Declaration of Homestead:

The Homestead Act allows Massachusetts homeowners to protect their home from future creditors.  The Act was updated and effective as of March 16, 2011. The updated Act allows homeowners to choose between an Automatic Homestead, which is effective without a written declaration and a written Declaration of Homestead. The amount of the Automatic Homestead protection is $125,000. When a written Declaration of Homestead is filed the exemption increases to $500,000. Both the homeowner and his/her spouse must sign the declaration form.

Contact Attorney Curran to discuss your options: 

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

 

WHY DO YOU NEED A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY?

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A durable power of attorney is a document in which you appoint an “attorney-in-fact also sometimes called an agent” to do anything on your behalf that you, the “principal” could do for yourself. The attorney-in-fact, in effect, stands in your shoes and acts for you on financial, business and other matters. Your attorney-in-fact can be any competent adult that you trust.

Giving someone a power of attorney does not limit your rights in any way. It simply gives the other person the power to act when you cannot. Your attorney-in-fact would be your fiduciary. A fiduciary is a person who is held to a high standard of good faith, fair dealing and undivided loyalty to the principal. The attorney-in-fact must always act in the principal’s best interest. The attorney-in-fact should keep complete records of what they do in case there are any questions of impropriety or bad faith dealing.

A power of attorney normally, takes effect as soon as the principal signs it. Most people do not intend that their durable power of attorney be used until they are incapacitated. The principal should discuss this with their attorney-in-fact so that both parties are clear on what the principal’s wishes are so that they can be carried out without delay or question. 

A principal may revoke a power of attorney at any time. All the principal needs to do is send a letter to his or her attorney-in-fact telling the attorney-in-fact that their appointment has been revoked. From the moment the attorney-in-fact receives the letter, they can no longer act under the power of attorney. If want to have proof that this letter was in fact received by the attorney-in-fact, send the letter certified signature required.

Your Durable Power of Attorney should be updated every 3-5 years or as soon as possible after a major life event (i.e. marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death of a family member, etc.)

Have questions or concerns about your estate planning? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

What is a Living Will and do you need one?

A health care proxy and a living will are both directives used by individuals to control the medical treatment they receive in the event that they become incapable of making or communicating health care decisions in the future.

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A living will sets for the specific written instructions that you have regarding your treatment preferences in various hypothetical medical situations.  Living wills tend to focus on end-of-life situations and decisions about pursuing or terminating treatment, including life-sustaining measures.

It is NOT legally enforceable in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts gives explicit recognition and protections only to health care proxies. So why should you have a Living Will in Massachusetts?  Your Health Care Agent has the ultimate authority regarding end of life care, but a living will is a good source of guidance for your family, doctors and your Health Care Agent.

Your Living Will should be updated every 3-5 years or as soon as possible after a major life event (i.e. marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death of a family member, etc.)

Have questions or concerns about your estate planning? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

 

WHY DO YOU NEED A HEALTH CARE PROXY?

A Health Care Proxy is a simple legal document that allows you to name someone you know to be your Health Care Agent. This should be a trusted person as they will make health care decisions for you if, and only if, you are unable to make or communicate those decisions for yourself.

Your Health Care Agent’s authority to make health care decisions begins only after a determination is made that you lack the capacity to make or communicate your health care decisions.  For example, if you are temporarily unconscious, in a coma, or have some other condition so that you cannot make or communicate health care decisions.  This determination must be made in writing by your attending physician. You must be notified, it at all possible, of this determination. No decision of your Agent can go into effect if you object.

health care proxy

Your Health Care Agent will make decisions for you only after talking with your doctor or health care provider, and after fully considering all the options regarding diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of your illness or condition.  It is important that you have an open and honest conversation with your Agent regarding your potential wishes and any moral or religious beliefs that may influence any medical decisions that may need to be made. If your Agent does not know what your wishes would be, your Agent would make decisions on what they believe would be in your best interest.

Once you execute your Health Care Proxy, keep the original for yourself in a safe place. Then distribute copies to your primary care doctor, your Agent and any alternative Agent identified in the Proxy. This way if there is an emergency, there will be no delay in your Agent’s authority being recognized.

You may cancel (revoke) your Health Care Proxy at any time simply by informing your Agent or your health care provider that you want to do so. However, it is always to put this in writing so there is proof that your named Health Care Agent no longer has the authority. You can also cancel your existing Health Care Proxy by executing a new Proxy.

Have questions or concerns about your Estate Plan? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

 

Why do you need a Will?

What is a Will?

  • A will can fulfill several purposes. It nominates fiduciaries, provides the fiduciary with the authority they need to act and it disposes of probate assets.

  • The will nominates a Personal Representative who will guide the estate through the probate process.

  • If there are minor children involved, the will also nominates a Guardian or Guardians.

  • The will may make specific bequests; dispose of tangible personal property, and also of the ‘residue’ of the estate.

  • If you die without any estate planning documents, the State will step in and decide how your assets will be distributed to those who survive you, in accordance with the then existing intestacy laws

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How often should I have my will updated? 

Every 5-10 years or as soon as possible after a major life event (i.e. marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death of a family member, etc.)

Have questions or concerns about your estate planning? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

The importance of Estate Planning

If you die without any estate planning documents, the State will step in and decide how your assets will be distributed to those who survive you.

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Massachusetts Intestacy Statute

 Under G.L. c.1908,§ 2-102 (http://bit.ly/2DV3nkQ): 

  • The surviving spouse receives the entire estate if the decedent is not survived by descendants or parents, or if the only descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse and the surviving spouse has no other descendants.
  • The surviving spouse receives the first $200,000 plus ¾ of the balance of the estate, if decedent is not survived by descendants but is survived by a parent.
  • The surviving spouse receives the first the first $100,000 plus 1/2 of any balance of the estate in all other scenarios.

IF you want to make sure your estate goes to specific people, you need to have a written will that is properly executed and witnessed.

Contact Attorney Curran to discuss your options: 

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC
10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com
@emcurranlegal

It’s a topic that many of us try to avoid – our deaths. Are you prepared?

cemetry.jpg

Being proactive and planning for your family’s future is a necessity in today’s world. If you do not take the time to plan, the state will step in and dictate what happens to your worldly possessions. In general, most estate plans will include at a minimum a combination of the following legal documents:

Will:

A will can fulfill several purposes. It nominates fiduciaries, provides the fiduciary with the authority they need to act and it disposes of probate assets. The will nominates a Personal Representative who will guide the estate through the probate process.  

Durable Power of Attorney:

A durable power of attorney is a document whereby one person, the principal, appoints another person, the agent or attorney-in-fact, to act as his or her attorney-in-fact. The person serving need not be an attorney so, to some extent, the term “attorney” is a misnomer. The attorney-in-fact, in effect, stands in the shoes of the principal and acts for him or her on financial, business, or other matters.

Health Care Proxy:

A Health Care Proxy is a legal document that allows you to name someone you know and trust to make health care decisions for you if, and only if, you are unable to make or communicate those decisions yourself.

Living Wills:

A living will sets forth the specific written instructions of the principal regarding his or her treatment preferences in various hypothetical situations. Living wills tend to focus on end-of-life situations and decisions about pursuing or terminating treatment, including life-sustaining measures.

Declaration of Homestead:

The Homestead Act allows Massachusetts homeowners to protect their home from future creditors.  The Act was updated and effective as of March 16, 2011. The updated Act allows homeowners to choose between an Automatic Homestead, which is effective without a written declaration and a written Declaration of Homestead. The amount of the Automatic Homestead protection is $125,000. When a written Declaration of Homestead is filed the exemption increases to $500,000. Both the homeowner and his/her spouse must sign the declaration form.

Contact Attorney Curran to discuss your options: 

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com