What is estate planning?
May 7, 2020 Joel Bernstein
1 What does a MA estate planner do? An estate planner talks with you about you, your family, your assets, and how you want to leave those assets to others, considering both tax and non-tax concerns.
2 What is an estate? Your estate consists of everything you own, including things you might forget about - like life insurance and retirement accounts.
3 What is estate planning? Estate planning is the process and documents signed after thinking about whom you wish to leave assets to, who will be in charge, and how to get this done at the least cost after you die.
4 What is the primary goal of estate planning? The main objectives of estate planning are to deal with both tax and non-tax considerations of the persons you leave behind when you pass away.
5 How do I avoid or decrease estate tax in Massachusetts? You use a MA revocable living trust if you are married, then remove taxable assets from your estate by transfer.
6 What are the main steps in estate planning? The main steps are talking with a professional estate tax person, usually an attorney who focuses on the field.
Estate Planning Services
How much should I expect to pay for estate planning? Estate planning services are not inexpensive unless it's quality is low. Expect to pay from $1,000 to $5,000 for full estate planning law services.
But given how long the estate planning is in force, which can be several years or decades, it is usually less than the annual cost of owning a car. In fact, at $30,000 for a vehicle that drives for ten years, that is $3,000 plus insurance and maintenance. Estate planning carries neither of those annual costs.
How much does it cost to get a lawyer's advice about estate planning? On the lower side, it will likely take about an hour of professional time for a MA estate planning attorney to consult with you.
What is the average fee for an executor of an estate in Massachusetts?
There is no official payment schedule in Massachusetts. Other states, like New York, have laws that specify the fees as a percentage of the income and principal.
Many times the executor will not charge for their services because it is a family member. But expect to pay 3-7% of the probate estate for a professional executor. The relatively new Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code changed the term of an 'executor' to 'personal representative.'
What should estate planning include? It should consist of at least an hour discussing with your situation, your family, and your assets. If you have existing estate planning documents, it should include at least a brief review of them if they will stay in place. If you plan to replace the older documents entirely, then you will focus on your current wishes.
The new MA estate planning should include a will, likely a trust in some form, a health care proxy, and durable power of attorney. There will also be other documents depending on the type of estate planning done.
MA Last Will and Testament
Can I write my own will in Massachusetts?
Maybe, if you mean write it out and sign it. That is called a holographic will.
Does a will need to be recorded in Massachusetts?
Not until 30 days after your death. The law then requires a person who has the will to file it with the registry of probate.
It may not need to be 'probated' at that time, just filed.
What happens if you don't have a will in Massachusetts?
If you haven't signed a will or trust and then die in MA, then you die 'intestate' or without a will. The intestate law specifies who gets your assets. These people are called your heirs at law.
What makes a last will and testament invalid?
In Massachusetts, your Will needs to be signed by you and also signed by two witnesses. Every person involved needs to be over 18 and be competent. An incompetent person cannot validly execute a will.
To be competent, you must know roughly about your approximate assets and who are family members.
MA revocable living trust
Do I need a revocable living trust in Massachusetts?
No, you don't need one. In some cases, a Will will suffice, coupled with a health care proxy and durable power of attorney.
A revocable trust can bring some features into your estate planning that a will even coupled with the other documents will not provide. Remember, a will does not help you unless you're dead.
On the other hand, a MA revocable living trust can assist you and your family if you become incapacitated, and not dead. The trust would allow another person to handle your finances.
What assets can go into a revocable living trust?
Almost all your assets can go into a revocable living trust, though you likely will not want to do that. The most common non-transferred assets are retirement accounts. The name of the owner will remain you, although you MAY wish to name a trust as the BENEFICIARY of the account.
What is the purpose of a revocable living trust?
A revocable living trust can help you to achieve both tax and non-tax benefits.
Do you have to pay taxes on a revocable living trust?
While you are living, you pay the income tax on trust assets. Because you can change the terms of a MA revocable living trust, the government says you will continue to pay taxes on the income generated by trust assets - it is not a separate taxpayer.
MA Estate Planning Law
What type of law is estate planning?
Estate planning law is a subset of property. It deals with the transfer of property to others on a person's death.
There are tax considerations, and many other facets of law are involved. Property means both real estate and non-real estate assets - all is called property.
Retirement accounts are also property, as is life insurance.
How long do you have to settle an estate in Massachusetts?
You have as long as you need to do a proper job. But remember that the law requires the person in charge to distribute the property promptly. The meaning of promptly will depend on all the facts involved in the particular case.
What is the difference between elder law and estate planning?
If you have estate planning questions or concerns, or would like to get started creating your estate plan, contact the experienced Lexington, Massachusetts estate planning attorneys at MA Wills and Trusts at 781 863-8606 to schedule your consultation. Or contact us at Contact