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Common Estate Planning Questions

What is a Will?

A will is a document primarily designed to transfer your assets according to your wishes. A will appoints an executor to manage your estate after your death and distribute the property according to your wishes. If you have children, a will may also appoint a guardian for your minor children. A will only becomes effective upon your death and after it is admitted by a probate court.

What is a Trust?

A Trust can be used to hold legal title to and provide a mechanism to manage property. There are many different types of Trusts, each of which serve varied functions depending on one’s needs.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

A Durable Power of Attorney is a document primarily designed to ensure that your affairs continue to be managed even if you become incapacitated. It allows someone you name, called your attorney-in-fact, to manage your bank accounts, real estate and financial affairs. A properly drafted Durable Power of Attorney may make it unnecessary to apply to a court to have a guardian or conservator appointed to make decisions on your behalf when you are disabled. A Durable Power of Attorney assures that your wishes are carried out as you want them and by who you want.

What is a Health Care Proxy?

A Health Care Proxy allows you to appoint someone, called a health care agent,to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to make decisions or communicate your wishes. You can allow your health care agent to decide on all types of medical treatment or only about certain types of treatment. Medical providers are required to follow your health care agent’s decisions.

What is an Emergency Guardianship Proxy?

An Emergency Guardianship Proxy is a document that provides for the appointment of a guardian in the event of a parent’s death, incapacity or unavailability. An Emergency Guardianship Proxy is valid for 60 days from the date of death or incapacity of the parent.

What is a Living Will?

A Living will is a document designed to inform others of the medical treatment you prefer in the event you should become unable to make or communicate decisions regarding medical treatment. Massachusetts does not currently have a living will law, meaning that medical care providers do not have to follow the requests made in the document. However, a Living will is useful to a court if a decision must be made as to what an unconscious patient would want to do in regard to their medical treatment.

What is an estate?

An estate is everything a person owns. Some examples might be your home, life insurance, retirement accounts, businesses, your share in joint accounts and your share in property ownership.

What happens if I die without a Will?

When a person dies without having a valid will in place, that person’s property passes to heirs according to state law. Essentially, this means that if you don’t have a will, the state will make one for you. How the state distributes your estate may differ drastically from what you may have really wanted. It does not matter that it might be known that you wanted your estate or specific piece of property to pass to a certain person.

What can an estate plan do for me?

A properly drafted estate plan based on your family’s needs, your needs, your individual facts and circumstances can:

What estate planning documents should I have?

It depends. Every case is different and no two cases fit into the same cookie-cutter mold. To learn more about the options available to you, contact The Law Office of Wendy Andre, PC. Initial consultations are free of charge.