Boston Estate Planning Attorney
Boston estate planning attorney Michael J. Hurley creates Estate Plans that can: (1) be changeable (revocable); (2) avoid the awful probate court process; (3) keep your family affairs and finances private; (4) specify who receives your money and property; (5) provide for your surviving spouse; (6) be set up to save estate and gift taxes; (7) will minimize property tax increases on your passing, and (8) consider income tax implications of transfers of money and property to your heirs and beneficiaries.
Massachusetts Wills & Trusts attorney, Michael J. Hurley – is an experienced Boston estate planning lawyer who provides affordable, yet sophisticated, estate planning and real estate services to individuals and families from Boston, North Andover, Lawrence, Merrimack Valley, Essex County, Middlesex County, Suffolk County, and all of Massachusetts from his Boston Office at 90 Canal Street, Boston, MA 02114 (one block from TD Garden and North Station) or our North Andover office 25 miles north.
Protect your Interests with an Effective Estate Plan
Michael J. Hurley’s experience as an attorney enables us to provide comprehensive estate planning services to our clients. Having represented numerous clients in litigation, we take every opportunity to anticipate potential problems that can arise after your passing. Pro-active estate planning means crafting appropriate paragraphs in the estate planning documents to resolve problems before they happen.
Purposes of Estate Planning
People engage in estate planning to create a comprehensive plan which will specify what happens to them if disabled, and what happens to their money and property in the event of death. Thankfully, as Boston estate an planning attorneys, we have seemingly infinite variations of how we can create an estate plan such that your estate plan will be custom-tailored to your personal situation.
A typical estate plan will: (a) be revocable (changeable); (b) will keep your estate out of the time-consuming, expensive, and very-public probate court system; (c) will keep your family affairs and finances private; (d) will provide a specific plan as to who receives your money and property upon your passing; (e) will provide for your surviving spouse; (f) will be set up to save estate and gift taxes; (g) will minimize property tax increases upon your passing, and (h) will consider income tax implications of transfers of money and property.
Handy CHART — Common Estate Planning Documents
Here is a list of the typical documents routinely prepared by our estate planning firm. Unlike risky Internet fill-in-the-blanks estate planning forms, most of these documents will be custom-drafted by Boston estate planning attorney Hurley to suit your unique family situation.
|TYPE OF DOCUMENT||ITS PURPOSE (WHAT IT DOES)|
|Basic Estate Plan|
|♦ Will||Final instructions as to who gets what upon death.|
|♦ Revocable (living) Trust||A legal entity with instructions on how to handle everything before and after death. Because it is revocable it can be changed at any time.|
|♦ Durable Power of Attorney||Allows somebody else to legally sign for you even if you are incapacitated.|
|♦ Health Care Directive||Authorizes others to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so.|
|♦ Property transfer documents||Once a trust is established, deeds and other transfer documents are required to legally “fund” – transfer title of your property and money into the trust.|
|♦ Bank and brokerage account changes will be needed||Since a trust is a legal entity, it needs bank accounts in the trust name and whomever establishes the trust will need to go to the bank or brokerage company to sign new signature cards.|
|♦ Pension & life insurance changes||Revised beneficiary designation forms will need to be signed for the trust to control what happens to the proceeds of these items.|
|Optional additional items|
|♦ Life insurance trust||A permanent trust to hold life insurance policies to keep it out of your estate for tax purposes so your heirs will get 100% of the benefit.|
|♦ Special needs trust||This is used where there are children with disabilities to ensure that there are special instructions for their care|
|♦ Family limited partnership||A separate entity to hold property or business interests and provide a mechanism to transfer percentages to the next generation in increments to escape estate and gift taxes. Also used for asset protection.|
|♦ Limited liability company||A separate entity typically set up to hold real property or business interests to protect your personal estate from liabilities of the property or business.|
Taxation and Estate Planning
The tax issues involving estate planning and trusts that must be determined in each situation involved are:
- Will the money & property in the trust be subject to federal estate taxes on the death of the Trustors?
- Will the income generated by the trust (ordinary income, portfolio income, or capital gains) be taxed on the Trustor’s personal income tax returns, or will the trust pay the tax, or will the beneficiaries pay the tax?
- Will there be gift taxes on the transfers into the trust?
- Will there be an increase in the property taxes for property placed into a trust?
- What will happen to the income tax basis of properties and assets if transferred into a trust as compared to giving them directly to heirs before death?
- Who will be paying income taxes on income generated by a trust or estate?
Control Issues of Revocable Trusts and Irrevocable Trusts
Revocable Trust – If it is a “revocable trust,” (a “living trust”), the trust document establishing the trust names the persons who control the trust monies and properties and gives detailed instructions on how much, when, and under what circumstances money is paid out of the trust to the beneficiaries. The “Trustee” of the trust administers these instructions. However, if the trust is “revocable,” the “Trustor” (the creator of the trust) can make changes in these instructions and/or revoke the trust altogether to prevent the instructions from being carried out if the Trustor changes his or her mind. READ MORE ABOUT TRUSTS
Irrevocable Trust – If it is an “irrevocable trust,” by definition, the trust cannot be changed and the “Trustor” (the creator of the trust) cannot make changes, with some minor exceptions. For example, the Trustor might retain the right to replace the Trustee if he or she does not approve of what Trustee is doing. That said, when the Trustor retains rights, some of the income or estate tax benefits of an irrevocable trust might be lost or diminished. READ MORE ABOUT TRUSTS
Avoid Time, Expense & Public Record of Probate Process
To avoid the probate process, your assets need to be placed into a living (revocable) trust. Money and property placed into a trust before your death generally will not be subject to probate court proceedings. Michaal, a skilled Boston estate planning lawyer can bring you up to speed in your first meeting.
Probate court proceedings take a year and longer, are totally inconvenient, and far more expensive than the costs on a Living Trust estate plan package. This is one reason for the incredible popularity of living trusts. A living trust allows you organize your assets, and a written plan of who your property will be distributed to before death and to have time to evaluate how well the trust and Trustee function. BTW. You can be the Trustee while you are alive. How flexible is that?
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney is a document that one person creates to appoint another person to make financial decisions on his or her behalf. There are different types of powers of attorney, including: “General powers of attorney” and “Durable powers of attorney.” General powers of attorney are commonly used for real estate transactions. Durable powers of attorney remains effective if you become unable to make decisions yourself.
Health Care Directives
A health care directive is a document that gives you a voice to make health care choices even if you become incapacitated. It also allows you to choose someone who will carry out your medical care wishes. A proper health care directive states your instructions for important future health care decisions such as:
- Life-support treatment
- Organ donation
- Do not resuscitate orders
- Funeral planning
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