Middlesex County Estate Planning Attorney
I am a Middlesex County estate planning attorney, Michael J Hurley. I help Middlesex County residents residing in Concord, Lowell, Littleton, Framingham, Somerville and beyond draft affordable Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney and other estate planning documents. I can also help you start a Probate, file probate documents or represent you in the Middlesex Probate Court located in Cambridge, MA, or any Probate Court in Massachusetts.
I draft Wills, Living Trusts and other estate documents for residents in Middlesex County. Proper estate planning documents can protect and secure the future for individuals and their families. For those suffering the recent loss of a loved one, I offer legal counsel and hands-on assistance starting the probate process. As a probate attorney, Executors and Trustees can call me or sit down with me for legal counsel and practical advice about administering their Probate. For those appointed Trustee or successor Trustees of a trust, I can help you with your trust administration duties.
How Can I Protect My Family?
Everyone will eventually wonder: “How will I make sure my family gets the house and personal property I’ve accumulated?” If you don’t do something pro-actively, the state of Massachusetts may well have a say in that… Folks who call me are clear about WHAT assets they want to go to WHOM. That is a good place to start. We can make that happen AND protect your survivors from the aggravation of a very public Massachusetts probate. Moreover, we keep your family matters private and out of the searchable public database in just a few days. That’s what estate planning is all about.
Protecting Assets Using Estate Planning Documents
Protecting your assets. Most Massachusetts families eventually acquire a family home (real property). Many Middlesex County clients have both a home and a vacation home. Some own income properties. Beyond real estate there is personal property that people want to make certain go to specific people.
A ‘Living Trust’ can transfer real property AND personal property quickly, easily and smoothly. Until you think about it, you might not realize all that you have acquired. Consider WHO you will want to bless with your: jewelry, furniture, electronics, artwork, vintage car, woodworking and other tools, gun collection, and grandpa’s coin or stamp collection. Parents might know one child will appreciate the value dad’s tools, while the other children are clueless to their monetary and sentimental value and might sell the lot of them for pennies on the dollar in a yard sale. If none of your children would appreciate a tool or gun collection, you might want to bless a sibling living in another state or your best buddy from high school.
A Living Trust (revocable trust) can be very specific as to WHO gets WHAT –or percentage of– the ASSETS you want to disperse to your family, loved ones, friends and charities. If you add a trust to your estate planning documents, you can better avoid any government strangers deciding who gets what after your passing.
When you are contemplating creating an estate plan, taking care of aging parents, or you need help with the probate process, please keep in mind that my Middlesex County estate planning office is here for you. Not only to we proudly offer top-notch legal services, we do so at fare and affordable fees.
You will meet ONLY with me – not a contract attorney or paralegal. I have set up my estate planning legal practice such that everyone can afford one-on-one first-class legal counsel when they decide to draft a Will or set up a Living Trust or other estate planning legal instruments.
Don’t Be Lured into Online Estate Planning Documents
Stay away from online estate planning documents. I physically “cringe” when I learn of people who got a cheap, software-created Will or Living Trust package from an Internet document-mill operation. These are the very-cheap services where software inserts your name and your important words into a boilerplate, generic estate plan. These websites suggest that they can protect you, but often the documents you end up with cannot survive a simple challenge from a gold-digging distant relative who wants a piece or ALL of what you thought you left to those you really care about. These documents are not drafted by a local attorney (or any attorney) to survive the complex legal minefield of estate law. I regularly hear from fellow estate planning lawyers about unfortunate fiascos and tragic stories resulting from flawed Internet estate planning documents.
How Do We Get Started on My Estate Plan?
I can start your Will or Living Trust after a discussion by phone, in my Boston or North Andover office or your home. I regularly do estate planning ‘remotely’ by phone and email for clients in remote sections of the state outside of Middlesex County. In fact, I regularly ‘remotely work’ for people close to my office who I might never meet face-to-face. In the age of buying everything from Amazon, I get it and have embraced the cost savings I can pass on to my clients! Many people don’t like to drive, cannot drive, are currently in a hospital or nursing home or simply appreciate the new-found freedom of working by phone and email for everyday services – even legal services. Upshot? – I am here to serve my clients. I can work remotely, or if you need me to visit you or an aging parent at home or other location, I will make the arrangements to do so. We can make that happen.
What do I Need? – Will – Living Trust – Durable Power of Attorney
Your estate plan can be as simple as a Will and a Health care directive or include a trust. After we talk over the possibilities and protections afforded by each document, you can decide. I am not here to upsell you into legal documents you DO NOT need. Your circumstances will dictate what you should consider, and you will tell me what you want at this time. You can always add components to your estate plan as the years go by and life changes occur.
Together we consider your circumstances including your age, marital status, children, real property, personal property, job, income and your goals. As people get older, make more money, collect more assets, get married, have a family, these UNIQUE CIRCUMSTANCES dictate what level of estate planning makes sense. Once you tell me what you want, I will draft those legal documents for your review. It is that straight forward!
You will end up with affordable, protective estate plan documents tailored to you. Your estate documents might include a Will, Trust, Powers of Attorney, Durable Power of Attorney, and other legal that uniquely-address YOUR needs. My goal is to (1) protect you and what is yours, (2) protect you if should you become incapacitated, (3) see that your assets go to WHOM you choose, (4) ensure your heirs and loved ones do NOT inherit a mess to clean up, and (5) your spouse, family and survivors avoid the costly and frustrating probate process.
Accomplishing those 5 goals and your survivors will appreciate all that you’ve done for them. Survivors who are forced into a year or longer Massachusetts probate, will never experience that blessing. Should you die without any estate planning, surviving spouses, siblings, and children often end up in a bureaucratic mess of required forms, court fees, and court hearings. Other common fallouts of passing with no estate planning documents are nasty family fights over WHO gets WHAT. A Middlesex County Probate Court judge will sometimes be the stranger that determines WHO gets WHAT and will referee fights and competing claims of heirs and creditors.
If you take a little time to create a Will, Trust and other powerful companion documents, you can make SURE that the State of Massachusetts is far less likely to butt into your families’ lives and make more stressful that which will already be a time of significant emotion.
What Happens if I Don’t Have a Will or Trust?
By default, you choose the “Massachusetts DEFAULT Estate Plan.” The State of Massachusetts and a probate judge in Middlesex County will often become the “decider” of who gets what if you have NO Will, Trust or Estate Plan. Don’t let that happen to your loved ones. County-level government bureaucrats can get involved in your private family affairs. If you don’t make a legal estate plan, then complete strangers can decide the fate of your stuff, the guardianship of minor children, all because you failed to make your desires known in a legal document.
Don’t allow government bureaucrats or a Probate judge to intervene. Decisions made by random strangers in the Middlesex County probate court are sometimes 180-degrees opposite of what you would have wanted. Proper estate planning documents can prevent government intervening in your survivor’s lives and are fast to draft and affordable.
Upshot – Don’t leave your spouse, kids, and grandkids a mess to be unraveled by government. You can take care EVERYTHING with just a couple of meetings with me, Michael J. Hurley.
I will personally help you create an estate plan of your choosing: from a very simple Will to a more elaborate estate plan with a revocable trust (a ‘Living Trust’) should you have significant income or assets. As a Middlesex County estate planning attorney, I will personally create all the estate documents you choose to include in your estate plan. I will also handle all interactions with the courts and government entities on your behalf. Call and speak with me personally at (617) 712-2000.
Massachusetts Estate Planning Lawyers
As your Massachusetts estate planning lawyer, I counsel and assist Middlesex County residents in creating customized estate plans for the fast and smooth transition of their assets to their pre-selected beneficiaries. Beneficiaries typically include spouses, kids, grandkids, friends, and charities. My Massachusetts estate planning law firm offers expert estate planning and other legal services, at affordable fees.
Estate Planning Services We Offer:
- Living Wills
- Will Contests — When your rightful inheritance is in jeopardy.
- Living Trusts
- Revocable Trusts
- Irrevocable Trusts
- Life Insurance Trusts
- Supplemental Needs Trusts
- Trust Contests — When would-be beneficiaries are wrongfully disinherited from estate.
- Probate Administration
- Probate Contests — When you contest a Will during or after Probate.
- Powers of Attorney | Durable Power of Attorney
Making a Will is a good place to start for single persons – couples who rent rather than own, and those without significant assets.
It is sad to learn how many people don’t have a Will or any kind of estate plan. But I get it… People procrastinate getting a Will because it seems difficult and acknowledges one’s mortality. Decide RIGHT NOW to just do this! I will help you with everything. All you need to do is call me personally at (617) 712-2000.
I will become your personal attorney. I will take the necessary time to learn about your life, your family, and your desires. I will then draft for you a Will including some basic and necessary companion documents. This will become a straight-forward, Will-based estate plan that will protect you and your family.
For most people, a Will-based estate plan will consist of:
- Advance Directive
- Durable Power of Attorney
Living Will – Advance Health Care Directive
A “Living Will” is another term for “Advance Health Care Directive.” An “advance health care directive,” sometimes referred to as a “living will”, provides written instructions to family members and medical professionals regarding extraordinary life support measures and end-of-life care.
If you were involved in a catastrophic auto accident – resulting in you being in a coma, how would your doctors and family members know your wishes? I suggest including a Health Care Proxy in any estate plan that designates another person to make medical decisions if you are unable to. A “Living Will” is a legal document where you will list medical treatments that you would agree to — or not agree to — should you ever become incapacitated or terminally ill and are unable to make your own decisions.
You do not have to know about medical treatments and scenarios. As your Middlesex County Living Will attorney, I will quiz you about various medical treatments and situations such as coma, cardiac arrest, congestive heart failure, and brain death (persistent vegetative state). You can choose your decisions for each.
An “advance health care directive” is more than a typical doctor’s office check list where you look over 200 conditions you might have had. Instead, you will go on record whether you want some “heroic measures,” taken. For example, you could choose to ‘opt in’ for CPR, resuscitation, blood transfusions, but chose to ‘opt out’ of being on a ventilator for weeks or months if your doctors determine that you are in a persistent vegetative state.
Your “living will package” of documents can also let your family know if you’d prefer to remain in a hospital or be cared for at home with a home care professional. If you are dying, you can determine who you want by your bedside — and who do you want not to be there. If you feel that young children or grandchildren might me emotionally impacted, you can choose to shield them from that experience. All these decisions are yours to make, and your wishes will be followed if you take a little time to create your “Living Will.”
“Will Contests” are very common and arise during the Probate process. We are routinely contacted by out-of-state ‘would-be beneficiaries’ who have learned that some or all their expected inheritance has been diverted to a sibling, or a non-family care giver.
We are experienced Middlesex County Massachusetts Will Contest Attorneys. We can help you contest a Will that may have been altered recently by someone using ‘undue influence’ or outright fraud. We can also help you dispute ongoing Probate proceedings. If your parents’ home (your rightful inheritance) is listed for sale, we can file suit to halt the sale until a proper determination of inheritance is established in the local Probate Court.
Living Trusts | Revocable Trusts
“Living Trusts” are also called “Revocable Trusts.” Revocable Trusts (Living Trusts) have many advantages over Wills.
A ‘Living Trust’ can be a substitute for a Will. A Massachusetts Revocable Trust enables you to avoid the excruciating time delays and expenses involved in Probate Court. A Revocable Trust allows you to transfer the control of your home (and other assets) to a loved-one quickly, at less cost, without government bureaucrats making family decisions, and without your private family details becoming part of the public record. Finally, a Revocable Trust reduces the possibility of disputes among family members after the death of the grantor (originator) of the trust.
Avoid Probate – The primary advantage of a Revocable Trust is avoiding Probate. Consider it for a moment. You pass away unexpectedly. You can visualize the emotional trauma an unexpected death can cause. Besides the disruptions and emotions your loved ones would face, your spouse and kids might be unable to move on with their lives for more than year. Your spouse might not be able to access some bank accounts to pay the mortgage or bills. If things get dicey and your spouse needs to sell a home or other asset, they may not be allowed to UNTIL a Middlesex County Probate judge gives permission. The Probate process takes from 9-months to 18-months and is not cheap.
Upshot? Creating an “Revocable Trust” will spare your family UNNECESSARY anxiety, time and expense following your passing.
Privacy – A Revocable Trust keeps family business and details private. A Living Trust, when properly created, keeps your private financial and family member details private! You can prevent government intervention into the lives of your family and heirs. A simple Will often needs to go through the Probate process. If so, your confidential family business will become part of the public record where nosey neighbors, co-workers, or anyone can view your family wealth, family squabbles, lists of your assets and property, and who gets what.
Changes Made at Any Time – A Massachusetts Revocable Trust can be altered or updated at any time. You created it. Thus, you can change it. You will transfer all your major assets into the revocable trust (home, bank accounts, etc.) but you continue to enjoy, use, and manage ALL YOUR ASSETS during your lifetime. Legally you are set. Practically it is as if nothing changed.
An Irrevocable trust, cannot be changed, amended or terminated once established. Unlike a Revocable Trust, you cannot access or control assets in an Irrevocable Trust, because the trust is under control of a trustee that is NOT you. Under some circumstances, with the permission of the beneficiaries, changes are allowed.
So, what are Irrevocable Trusts good for?
Irrevocable Trusts are created to address specific family situations: such as gifting of assets to future generations, protecting assets from creditors, and tax advantages.
Tax Advantages – Assets placed in an Irrevocable Trust will not be taxed when you die. Assets placed in an Irrevocable Trust are protected from creditor lawsuits. Finally, an Irrevocable Trust spares your family the need to come up with significant estate taxes. Likely you’ve read or heard news stories of families inheriting the family farm, only to have to immediately sell the inherited farm to pay off the estate taxes! Many of those tragic stories need not have played out so sadly.
Irrevocable Trusts are often used in sizeable estates. As an experienced Middlesex County estate planning attorney, I can usually structure one or more Irrevocable Trusts to reduce the valuation of large estates below state and Federal estate tax exemption thresholds.
An “Irrevocable Family Trust” is a Trust for the benefit of one or more family members. The person who creates the trust (the settlor), specifies certain family members to include in the trust (the beneficiaries). The settlor “funds” property and assets into the Irrevocable Family Trust which is then distributed to the beneficiaries by a designated “trustee” according to the trust’s instructions. The trust is irrevocable and once created, the “settlor” cannot modify or terminate the trust without the consent of the “beneficiaries.”
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