It’s a topic that many of us try to avoid – our deaths. 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. For an evaluation of your estate planning needs, arrange a free 1/2 hour consultation today.
In general, most estate plans will include at a minimum a combination of the following legal documents:
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.
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.
*It is important to note that living wills are not legally binding in Massachusetts. Massachusetts gives explicit recognition and protection only to health care proxies. But for some individuals, it is important for them to have stated their end-of-life decisions and they execute this document for the sole purpose of giving their Health Care Agent some guidance.
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.
Additional provisions in the updated Act include, but are not limited to:
- Special homestead exemptions for the elderly and disabled continue to be available (M.G.L. c 188 s. 2).
- Anyone who has already filed a Declaration of Homestead will continue to be protected and their homestead rights will be governed under the new "Act."
- Homestead filed pursuant to the new Act is automatically subordinate to mortgages.
- If a single homeowner marries, the new spouse can benefit from the existing Homestead.
Rates for these services:
Basic Estate Plan - Single Person $1,200.00 PLUS costs to file Homestead Declaration
Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Living Will,
HIPAA Release and Homestead Declaration - if needed (Trust not included)
Basic Estate Plan - Married Couple $2,000.00 PLUS costs to file Homestead Declarations
Wills, Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Proxies, Living Wills, HIPAA Releases and Homestead Declarations - if needed
(Trust not included)