Editing this site's wording
My family and I have been inside the house during the Covid period for maybe all of April 2020. It's been unusual. All the news is about this issue - and we're not sure when it will end.
Who will write out checks if I am disabled?
Deciding between a will and trust
When I talk with people, they frequently ask do I think they need a trust or a will for their estate planning. It depends on a number of factors.
The first one is their marital situation. If the clients are married, live in Massachusetts, and have over $1 million in assets - then I frequently suggest a living, revocable trust for each person. I say this because it can save estate taxes through an approach that is very commonly used. A Plain English Living Trust can be a highly useful, modern approach to estate planning for Massachusetts residents.
If the person is single, then maybe a will is sufficient. And of course the accompanying documents of a health care proxy and durable power of attorney.
The choice for a single person depends on if the client feels it's important to avoid probate in Massachusetts. Probate is a court process in which a signed will is presented to a court to determine if it is valid. That is, was the person who signed it legally capable of signing a will on the exact day they signed it.
Probate takes time and that time is a major reason why some people want to avoid it. However, avoiding probate shouldn't be the only reason for having an estate plan. It should accomplish other purposes as well.
I am reading law review articles and pondering the law on the subject of leaving zero to a child - either a minor or an adult. I am finding that the law differs on this topic depending on where in the world you ask the legal question. Briefly, the law in many countries, based on Spain's legal heritage, does protect the child.
On the other hand, legal systems like our that originated in England, have much less protection to children. The predominant thinking here is that an individual whom is planning their estate, should have almost complete freedom to decide to whom and how much to leave a child.
There is more protection given to a surviving spouse whom is left zero - they have a right to complain to the court and ask for a share of the estate. But children are a different story.
Read one law review article on it and now reading another. Interesting.
I continue to wonder why wills and trusts name the surviving spouse all the time to be in charge after a death. Like many other MA estate planning attorneys, I too am part of the lawyers whom do this - but is it wise?
The surviving spouse is likely quite elderly and has just been shattered by the death of their closest companion. To then require them to put together the information needed after a death just doesn't make sense.