North Andover Estate Planning Attorneys
North Andover Estate Planning, Wills Trusts, and Probate lawyer, Michael J. Hurley delivers top-drawer estate planning services. Michael drafts affordable Wills, Living Trusts, Advanced Health Care Directives and Powers of Attorney. He helps Massachusetts residents start their Probate, administer Probate, and can handle all Probate court appearances. Mr. Hurley’s North Andover office is located at: 807 Turnpike St, STE 201, North Andover, MA 01845.
Michael J. Hurley, will draft a comprehensive Estate Plan that: (1) is flexible and changeable; (2) will avoid probate court; (3) will keep your family business and finances private; (4) will specify who receives your money and property; (5) provides for your surviving spouse; and (6) can lessen or avoid estate taxes and can minimize future property tax increases. Our North Andover estate planning office is conveniently located on Turnpike Street in North Andover within a few minutes of Andover, Lowell, Lawrence, Middleton, and Georgetown residents.
Wills, Trusts, & Probate Lawyers in North Andover, MA
—I am North Andover Massachusetts estate planning attorney Michael J. Hurley. If you need help creating a Will, Health Care Directive, Living Trust, or starting a Probate following the death of a loved one, my North Andover estate planning law firm offers cost-effective legal services. For North Andover, our local probate court is in Lawrence MA.
You will meet exclusively with me at my North Andover estate planning law office. You will not find yourself with a staffer, paralegal or associate attorney. I have made it my mission to personally deliver first-class legal services at affordable fees. Hopefully I can help those who might stray into the danger-zone of those online document paper-mills that create boilerplate fill-in-the-blanks estate plans. In the estate planning world, I hear of sometimes tragic, horror stories resulting from generic estate planning documents purchased off the Internet.
Many First Time Clients Ask About LegalZoom
LegalZoom sells “do-it-yourself” Wills and Trusts at “too-good-to-be-true” pricing on the Internet. Legal Zoom claims “virtually anyone” can create valid legal documents using LegalZoom’s website. Is this true? Every year, hundreds of LegalZoom customers across the U.S. suggest that you might want to be a little suspicious.
Some angry LegalZoom customers who have ordered living Trusts kits find out there is no way to customize these estate planning critical documents. LegalZoom estate planning documents offer no way to change beneficiaries or direct who gets your 1968 Chevy Camaro or your Boston Whaler you keep at the North Shore. This is problematic as the primary point of a thorough estate plan is to specify to WHOM you wish WHICH assets and belongings to go.
In any given year, there are many LegalZoom lawsuits in the news. In a recent class action lawsuit, Katherine Webster sued LegalZoom over an estate plan. Ms. Webster was appointed the Trustee of an estate that used LegalZoom to create their Trust documents. According to Ms. Webster, she had no choice but to retain an attorney to fix the numerous problems with the LegalZoom Trust. She spent thousands of dollars in legal fees and Court costs to remedy the shortcomings of the LegalZoom trust package. Ms. Webster claimed LegalZoom engaged in unfair and deceptive business practices and misled customers with their claims that their documents were of comparable quality to those prepared by an estate planning lawyer.
Ms. Webster states in her complaint that “Nowhere in the LegalZoom manual is it made clear that using LegalZoom is not the same as using an attorney and that LegalZoom’s documents are only customized to the extent that the LegalZoom online service inputs your name, but the resultant legal documents are not tailored to your specific circumstances.”
What If I Don’t Have a Will or Trust?
By DEFAULT, you choose the “State of Massachusetts Estate Plan.”
When someone dies with without a will The State of Massachusetts can become the “decider” of who gets what. If there is a will, and no trust, when a person dies, chances are the State of Massachusetts will still get insist that a probate is required. By doing nothing, we all choose, by default, leaving our loved ones to deal with the Probate Court process. That is a terrible thing to allow to happen. Government bureaucrats will get involved in your private family affairs. The details of your family dynamics, any disputes that may arise, and your finances will become public record for anyone to read. If you don’t make a legal estate plan (Will, Trust, Health Care Directive), then complete strangers can decide the fate of your stuff, even the guardianship of minor children, because you failed to specify those desires in one or more estate plan legal documents.
to Intervene in Your Heir’s Lives!
If you don’t create a proper Will based or Will & Trust based Estate Plan, the State of Massachusetts will insist that the local county Probate Courts get involved in decisions for your spouse, kids, and loved ones. For those in North Andover, that means constant trips to the Essex Probate and Family Court at 36 Federal St., Salem, MA 01970. Not very convenient over the course of more that a year The Probate Court might make decisions that are totally opposite of what you would want to happen. There are documents that can prevent your loved ones’ having to deal with the probate process for 12 to 18 months following your passing. In fact, we can remedy that in two or three meetings. Moreover, the fees involved are totally affordable.
Most people who have participated in a Probate will be the FIRST ones who run –not walk– to an estate planning lawyer to get their own house in order. They want to protect their spouse, kids, grandkids and loved ones from a bureaucratic mess. You can avoid probate and set up your very own estate plan in just a couple of meetings in my North Andover office.
I will personally help you create an estate plan of your design and choosing: from a very simple Will to a Living Trust. You might lean toward a Living Trust if you own a home, have other significant assets, want heirs to avoid probate court, and maintain family privacy. As your North Andover estate planning attorney, I will personally create all the estate documents you choose to include in your unique and customized estate plan. I will also handle all interactions with the courts and government entities necessary to set up your estate plan. Call and speak with me personally at (617) 712-2000.
“Wills” – Making a Will is a good place to start for single persons, couples who rent rather than own, and those without significant assets such that you would have to pay estate taxes if you should unexpectedly pass in the coming years.
Unfortunately, many people do not have a Will or any kind of estate plan. People are hesitant to make a Will because it seems difficult. It can be a challenge on your own, but with my help it will be very straight-forward. If you are one of those folks who have been procrastinating for years, don’t fret, let’s get this taken care of. Call me personally at (617) 712-2000.
As your attorney, I will take the time to understand your life circumstances and your long-term goals. I will create for you a Will and some necessary companion documents. This will become a simple Will-based estate plan that can protect you and your family.
For most people, a Will-based estate plan will consist of:
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Advance Health Care Directive
A “Living Will” is an easy to remember term for “Advance Health Care Directive.” An “advance health care directive,” provides written instructions to medical professionals and family members about extraordinary life support measures and end-of-life care instructions you decide now and intend to be followed.
“Will Contests” arise during the Probate process. “Would-be beneficiaries” who feel that some or all their expected inheritance is being diverted to a sibling or a non-family member (such as a care giver) have an opportunity to challenge a will or how an Executor is administering the probate process of an estate.
Protect your Inheritance – If you have been wrongfully written out of a will (or trust) you should call us. Similarly, if you feel that your rightful inheritance is in jeopardy by the wrongful acts of another, or the estate’s executor, you have the right to fight back. That said, you must act quickly, because there are short deadlines to start a will or trust contest.
We are experienced North Andover 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 in the process of being sold, we can file suit to halt the sale until a determination of inheritance is established in the local Probate Court.
Living Trusts | Revocable Trusts
Living Trusts – Living Trusts are an easy-to-remember “generic term” for what is legally called a “Revocable Trust.” Revocable Trusts (AKA Living Trusts) have many advantages over a simple Will or even a Will-based estate plan.
A ‘Revocable Trust’ can be a substitute for a Will. A Revocable ‘Living’ Trust enables you to avoid the months of Probate. Moreover, a Revocable Trust allows you to transfer the control of your home (and other assets) to your loved one’s quickly without government bureaucrats getting into your private family business. Your private family details will not become part of the forever public record. Finally, a Revocable Trust minimizes the possibility of disputes among family members following the death of originator of the trust.
A ‘Revocable Trust’ avoids Probate. The primary advantage of a Revocable Trust is to spare your family from the horrible Probate Court process. In addition to the emotions your loved ones will experience upon your death, your spouse and kids cannot move on with their lives for a year or longer if your estate must wind its way slowly through the Essex County Probate Court. Your spouse might not be able to access bank accounts to pay the mortgage payment or bills. If your loved ones need to sell a home or other asset, they may not be allowed to UNTIL a Probate judge gives permission. The Probate process takes from 12-months to 18-months and can be far more expensive than the cost of a Living Trust (Revocable Trust) estate plan ever was. Consider sparing your family the anxiety, time, and expense following your passing.
Privacy – A Revocable Trust keeps family business private. A Living Trust is designed to keep your private financial details private! You can prevent government intervention into the lives of your family and heirs by avoiding Probate. While having a Will is better than not having a Will, a Revocable Trust will better assure your family never must go through the Probate process. A Trust will keep confidential family business from becoming part of the public record where neighbors, co-workers, or anyone read see things that should never be public.
Ultimate in Flexibility – A Massachusetts Living Trust can be changed at any time. You are its creator. While you live, you can change it. You can get rid of it. You have total control. Frankly, once established, you will be excited to keep it in good order. You will start by transferring all your major assets into the trust (home, bank accounts, other assets). Though in the name of the trust, YOU continue to enjoy, use, and manage all assets during your lifetime as if nothing changed.
An Irrevocable trust, as its name suggests, cannot be changed. Unlike Revocable Trusts, the person who creates the trust (the settlor) cannot amended or terminated the trust once established. The ‘settlor’ cannot access or control assets either. An Irrevocable trust is under the control of a trustee. However, since the person who creates the trust (the settlor) often does so to the benefit of its beneficiaries, therefore most beneficiaries are grateful or in good standing with the creator of the trust (the settlor), and it is possible (under some circumstances and with the permission of the beneficiaries) that changes are allowed.
What are Irrevocable Trusts Used For?
An “Irrevocable Family Trust,” for example, is a Trust for the benefit of one or more family members. The person who creates the trust (the settlor), specifies which family members included 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.”
Irrevocable Trusts are commonly created to address specific family situations such as leveraging significant tax advantages, protecting assets from creditors, and gifting assets to future generations.
Tax Advantages – Assets placed in an Irrevocable Trust will not be taxed when you die. An Irrevocable Trust spares your family the need to come up with significant estate taxes upon your passing.
Protecting Assets from Creditors – Assets placed in an Irrevocable Trust are protected from creditor lawsuits.
Irrevocable Trusts are often used in sizeable estates. Michael J. Hurley is an experienced North Andover estate planning attorney who can structure one or more Irrevocable Trusts to reduce the valuation of large estates below state and Federal estate tax exemption thresholds.
Process of Creating an Estate Plan
We can meet in my North Andover office (or Boston), or your home to get started on your estate plan. If setting up a face-to-face meeting is inconvenient, we can start the process –or do the entire process– by phone and email. During our first office or phone meeting, I’ll answer any questions and get your directions how to proceed. The estate plan you choose can be as simple as a Will, Powers of Attorney, and a Health Care Directive, or it might include a Revocable Trust, if you choose to have a “Living Trust” for a variety of reasons that you will learn about. Educating you about your options and choices is my job as your attorney. Rest assured, I am not in the business of trying to ‘sell you’ estate planning legal instruments you don’t need. I do want you to be up-to-speed on the purpose and value of various common estate planning documents, so you can choose what will work for you and your life circumstances. Whatever you decide, I will then follow your wishes and create the necessary legal documents that will constitute an ‘estate plan’ that is uniquely yours.
Our second meeting (in person or via phone) will be a review of your estate planning documents. I will review each document with you and its purpose. If you are pleased that I have drafted everything just as you had envisioned it, we are almost done but for signatures, and other steps if you’ve had me create a trust. Living Trusts (revocable trusts), for example, require that we transfer the titles of selected significant assets (real estate, bank accounts, etc.) into the trust.
When all is completed, you’ll have an affordable, protective, legal estate plan that uniquely-addresses your needs and desires. Your heirs will appreciate all that you’ve done for them. Like so many people who decide to make a plan, you took the time necessary to bless those you love by creating a will, or perhaps, a combination of a will, trust, powers of attorney, health care directive and other powerful estate planning documents to prevent the State of Massachusetts from butting into your families’ lives and finances after your passing.
North Andover Massachusetts Estate Planning Lawyer
As your North Andover Massachusetts estate planning lawyer, I counsel and assist North Andover and Essex County residents in creating tailored estate plans for the transition of their assets to selected beneficiaries. Beneficiaries typically include one’s spouse, kids, grandkids, friends, and charities. My estate planning law practice offers comprehensive estate planning and other legal services, at affordable fees to residents in Andover, North Andover, Lowell, Cernralville, Belvidere, Lawrence, Haverhillm, Middleton, Georgetown or anywhere in Massachusetts.
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
to take advantage of a free phone consultation or to schedule a reduced fee sit-down consultation in the North Andover office, the Boston office, your home, your business, or even at your corner Starbucks.
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