At Charron and Flaws we recognize that planning for disability and end of life can easily be set-aside with the pressures of day-to-day responsibilities. We will work with you to create a plan not just to address financial concerns, but also to protect what matters most: the well-being and peace-of-mind of your family members. Our goal is to create a lasting partnership to continually ensure that your estate plan is appropriate as your family and financial situation changes.
We will work with you to determine which planning tools are appropriate for your unique circumstances. Often individuals or couples believe they only need a “simple will” when their interests would be better protected, and result in lower legal costs later on, by creating trusts as an integral part of the estate plan. In addition, at Charron and Flaws we strongly believe that disability planning should be an integral part of the estate planning process. After learning about your needs we will discuss the following options:
- Wills –
A Last Will and Testament allows for an orderly distribution of property, through the probate process, and appoints a personal representative who will be responsible for distributing property. The Will serves various other functions depending on the client’s goals and needs.
- Reciprocal Wills are often appropriate for married coupe as all personal items are left to the surviving spouse, and, upon the spouse’s death, in equal shares to the surviving children.
- Guardianship is a key function of wills for individuals and families with young children or other dependents. At Charron and Flaws we understand that choosing a guardian, and a contingent guardian, is often the most difficult part of the estate planning process. We will work with you to carefully weigh considerations such as the age of the guardians, particularly important when considering grandparents, the children’s familiarity with the guardians, and the possibility that a couple named as joint guardians could divorce.
- A Personal Representative will be selected in the process of creating a will. Under the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code the personal representative is responsible for carrying out the instructions provided in the will concerning not just distribution of belongings but also wishes concerning organ donation, funeral and burial. It is important to carefully consider the selection of this individual, and discuss the decision with them as the responsibility is significant.
- Pour Over Wills are used in conjunction with a trust, or trusts, to direct assets that should not, such as residential real estate in many cases, or cannot, such as life insurance benefits, be held in trust during the individual’s life-time.
- Revocable Living Trusts
Revocable Living Trusts can serve a number of purposes such as excluding property held in trust from the probate estate after death, and also as a vehicle to manage an individual’s assets if they become incapacitated and unable to direct their own financial affairs.
- Family Trusts
A Family Trust is created to preserve and manage funds, and other assets such as homes, for the benefit of children until they reach the age where they are considered old enough to handle financial responsibility. The Family Trust should be flexible enough to allow the Trustee to make judgment calls regarding the distribution of the funds while protecting the best interest of the children.
- Special Needs Trusts
Families with loved ones disabled by severe mental illness, brain injuries or other medical conditions that result in impaired cognition require careful legal attention to create estate plans that will provide for the quality of life and financial stability of those dependents. Leaving a direct inheritance could impact eligibility to receive public benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance or Medicaid. Creating a Special Needs Trust and an appropriate guardianship plan are crucial.
- Durable Power of Attorney – The Durable Power of Attorney is an important part of disability planning as the individual selected for this role will have the ability to make financial decisions should the client become disabled and incapacitated. At Charron and Flaws we recommend that everyone have a Durable Power of Attorney.
- Health Care Proxy – The Health Care Proxy name an agent who is able to make medical decisions should the client become unable to make such decisions themselves. The Health Care Proxy is a legally binding document in contrast to a Living Will or an Advance Directive. In Massachusetts Living Wills and Advance Directives can serve as evidence of the individual’s intentions and are very useful to provide guidance to the agent named in the Health Care Proxy.