Our Estate Planning Services Include:
Wills that are tailored to the goals of each individual that allow for the sale of real estate without obtaining a License from the Probate Court.
Marital Trusts that balance the interests of spouses with those of children from a prior relationship.
Planning for health care and financial decision making in the event of mental incapacity.
Guardianship plan for parents of minor children and adult incapacitated children who will have the legal standing to assume responsibility for care in the event of parents’ incapacity or death.
Family Trusts that manage assets and control the use of funds for the benefit of children.
Supplemental Benefit Trusts (also known as Special Needs Trusts) for loved ones with autism spectrum disorder, Downs Syndrome, cerebral palsy, schizophrenia, Huntingdon’s disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, or other incapacitating conditions to ensure continuation of public benefits while providing for inheritance to provide the best quality of life possible.
Estate Tax Trusts
Estate Tax Credit Shelter Marital Trusts that allow a couple to protect up to $2 million in assets from the Massachusetts Estate Tax.
Crummey Trusts that move assets out of the taxable estate and establish a pattern for the gifting of assets to the younger generation.
Life Insurance Trusts
Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts that place death benefits outside of the taxable estate.
Avoiding probate or setting up assets to simplify future probate; sometimes a Will is not necessary.
Health Care Options
Education about existing resources to provide long term care such as private insurance (stand-alone LTC and hybrid products), personal assets, MassHealth Standard (Medicaid), the Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) and Medicare Advantage plans that now offer expanded in-home care coverage;
Analysis of the use of Irrevocable Trusts (also called Medicaid Protection Trusts) to protect against MassHealth reimbursement liens.
Review of Trusts
Review and amendments of existing Trusts.
Estate Administration at the Probate Courts
Attorney Flaws provides representation for Personal Representatives in the Estate Administration process of gathering assets, carrying out the instructions in a Will (if there is one), paying final expenses, taxes and debts, and in some cases transferring assets to Trusts. She represents clients in the Essex, Middlesex and Suffolk County Probate and Family Courts and believes that her willingness to appear in person not only for hearings but for filings, makes a difference for her clients.
Probate refers to the process of opening a case in the Probate and Family Court of the appropriate county and going through the required steps for the Court to issue an Order appointing a Personal Representative to carry out the estate administration process either personally or through an attorney. The Personal Representative is generally granted authority to distribute personal property, pay funeral expenses, ensure that real estate is properly insured and maintained, to file final personal income tax returns, to file an income tax return for the estate itself, to obtain a tax identification number for the estate, opening a bank account under the estate’s tax identification number, for filing and paying any estate tax that may be due, for resolving any medical care reimbursement requests for MassHealth and any number of other tasks involved in administering an estate.
Until a Will is offered for probate, it is paper. The court converts the paper into a tool. If someone does not have a Will the state has laws that determine who receives assets and provides priority for who will be named as guardian of minor children. The “probate estate” refers to property that passes under the terms of the Will. But the “taxable estate” includes more than that. The taxable estate would include life insurance proceeds, retirement benefits, investment accounts and, depending on the terms of the trust, property the person transferred to trust or had a power of appointment over.
The Massachusetts Probate Court website has downloadable forms and some instructional materials. Many people handle the probate process independently. However, if you are overwhelmed with grief and the reality of other responsibilities, Attorney Flaws can manage the process for you.