Estate planning documents, such as a will or trust, largely depend on the future role of a person you name to act for you.
This person is called the executor or personal representative in a will. And a trustee when named in a trust.
Both of these types of persons is called a fiduciary. A fiduciary is a person or persons who owe the highest degree of honesty when dealing with those persons you want to receive money from your estate after your passing.
MA Estate Planning Attorneys' role in helping you decide who should you name
The person or multiple persons you name as the personal representative of your MA last will or the trustee of your MA revocable living trust must be at least 18 years old.
But they must possess honesty and be capable of dealing with detail. Handling matters after a death or incapacity require a strong dedication to detail.
Many people are just not used to this level of detail, to both recording keeping and dealing with third parties about the assets or debts of the deceased.
Professionals like accountants and lawyers are typically able to deal well with detail.
But many times these professionals will not accept the role of MA personal representative or trustee. This is because their professional malpractice insurance company will not cover them for those activities.
So, when doing your estate planning, a MA estate planning attorney will often need to inform you that neither they nor your income tax person will be willing to act as a fiduciary.
Generally, you will need to name a family member or friend.
But in not appropriate, some companies accept this type of work. They may be called a private trust company.
But many times that company will only accept a post-death role if they managed the deceased's money while they were living. And if the amount was substantial, say $1 million or more.
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Can You Name More Than One Executor or Trustee?
Yes, you can. But should you?
First of all, you will likely be the first trustee of your MA revocable living trust. This is the case if you are single.
While married persons can name only themself as the sole current trustee of their trust, our general recommendation is to name both spouses as original current co-trustees of any MA revocable trust you establish.
If married, after the death of one of you, the other can remain to be the sole trustee of the continuing trust of the deceased person.
Or, you can provide in your MA revocable living trust that a second person become a co-trustee with your surviving spouse after your death.
In terms of a MA will, or a 'Last Will and Testament' as the wordy delight in writing, you name a person or more than one person to handle your will on your death.
Remember that a will only affects those assets you die with that are in your sole name upon your passing. For example, a bank account in your sole name only.
These sole name assets are the 'probate assets' you die with. Many times, particularly if you are married, many assets will be in joint ownership at death and those assets will not be probate assets. That is, there will not be any probate assets when the first dies.
But after a spouse has died, and a surviving spouse continues to live, that formerly joint asset is now owned in the sole name of the surviving spouse.
On the death of the surviving spouse, their estate will go through the probate court process.
That is when a child, family member, or friend will need to be named in the will to handle your probate assets.
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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