A New Year’s resolution for any Massachusetts resident (especially those with children) should be to either create, or update, your estate plan.

In fact, I’m offering a special New Year’s Estate Planning Promotion. I’m throwing in 2 additional years of unlimited changes, which totals 5 years of unlimited changes.

All you have to do pick up the phone and call Melanie at (508) 852-7800 before December 21st. It’s an incentive for you to start the New Year off right. Every day I work with individuals and family members who are struggling with serious problems and emotional issues that could’ve been prevented with a will. (There’s a lot of regret there, believe me.)

What’s more, is that the first 12 people who respond to our New Year’s promotion will get a free estate planning analysis consultation. To set this up just call Melanie or email me, Jack, at Jack@jackmorrison.com.

Here are more details about the estate plan package and what’s included:

  • You’ll get a will, health care proxy, power of attorney, HIPPA authorization, and Declaration of Homestead
  • Plus, we’ll throw in:
    • Five (5) years of UNLIMITED changes to the documents (if you book by December 21, 2011)
    • Yearly reminder of your signing to remind you to make changes (if you want to)

But you must call Melanie at (508) 852-7800 before December 21, 2011 to schedule your Estate Plan meeting.

Would you like more information? My name is Attorney Jack Morrison, a Clinton and Worcester, Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney, I assist clients every day with creating and updating their estate plans. Call my office at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

Part 3: When Do You Begin Thinking About an Estate Plan?

by Jack Morrison on August 25, 2011

Have you ever heard the quote, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans?” As a Worcester Estate Planning attorney with more than 17 years experience, I know how true this is. I’ve seen many people who have ended up frustrated and kicking themselves for not putting legal precautions into place that they should’ve planned for long ago. But I understand—after all, life does get in the way.

There’s a very easy way to know when the time is right to create, or update, your estate plan. It’s when something significant changes in your life. That’s why we’ve taken the last few weeks to review a few of these scenarios:

  • Buying a house
  • Getting married
  • Having a baby
  • Getting divorced
  • Remarrying
  • Getting ill
  • Acquiring an asset

Did you catch our first article sharing about buying a house and getting married? Or our second article about starting a family and getting divorced? Today we’re going to pick back up and explore in further detail two more significant events.

  • Remarrying: if you have recently gotten remarried, then you know there are a few legal and emotional items you have to sort through. One of these is the creation, or updating of your estate plan. You need to sit down with your new spouse and discuss your assets and how you want your estate wishes carried out. You need a will that shows the intent of what your wishes and desires are for your loved ones upon your death.
  • Acquiring an asset: when you acquire an asset, you have a new responsibility on your hands. It’s your duty to understand how to legally protect that asset and know how taxes and liability will affect your loved ones upon your death.  The value of your assets, and your overall estate, are important to determining taxes and other financial obligations.

Are you ready to take the next step and make sure you’ve properly planned for you and your loved ones?

My name is Attorney Jack Morrison. As a Clinton and Worcester Estate Planning Lawyer, I assist clients every day with creating and updating their Massachusetts estate plans. Call my office at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form

Part 2: When Do You Begin Thinking About an Estate Plan?

by Jack Morrison on August 18, 2011

Welcome to the second article in our 2-part series, “When Do You Begin Thinking About an Estate Plan?” (Did you catch the first article?) Although the answer is simple—when something significant changes in your life—making that first step isn’t always so easy.

Have you experienced a significant event recently? This includes: 

  • Buying a house
  • Getting married
  • Having a baby
  • Getting divorced
  • Remarrying
  • Getting ill
  • Acquiring an asset 

Last week we discussed buying a house and getting married. Now we’ll discuss two more scenarios: starting a family and getting divorced.

  • Starting a Family: Starting a family marks a turning point in your life: you have to think about other people besides just yourself. Until kids reach a certain age, they are totally dependent on their parents’ ability to provide for them. If something should happen, your kids will go into the care of the guardian you designate for them. But what if you pass away without creating a will or designate a guardian? This is a nightmare for families to resolve. Not to mention a nightmare for the kids in the interim.
  • Getting Divorced: Divorce signifies a physical and emotional break-up. The divorce itself legally separates the assets of both parties. But it’s important to make sure that everything else is done correctly…that the life insurance policy is changed to reflect new beneficiaries…that IRAs name new beneficiaries. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are other things you need to do. Divorce, in general, voids any gift to the former spouse. But now you need to update and redo your will to accurately confirm your current wishes.

Are you ready to take the next step and make sure you’ve properly planned for you and your loved ones?

My name is Attorney Jack Morrison. As a Clinton and Worcester Estate Planning Lawyer, I assist clients every day with creating and updating their Massachusetts estate plans. Call my office at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

Series Part 1: When Should You Create an Estate Plan?

by Jack Morrison on August 11, 2011

Welcome to our 2-part series on “When Should You Begin Thinking About Creating an Estate Plan?” Right away, I can tell you the answer to this question is relatively easy. You should create an estate plan when:

Something Significant Changes in Your Life

This might sound intuitive, but if you’re like most people, you’re so busy with your everyday life it’s hard to stop and think about planning for the future. A significant, life changing event can include:

  • Buying a house
  • Getting married
  • Having a baby
  • Getting divorced
  • Remarrying
  • Getting ill
  • Acquiring an asset

If something in your life changes, then you need to take a moment to reflect. Where do you want the asset to go? How will this change your life? And of course, how do you want your affairs resolved in the event something happens to you?

Consider these two scenarios:

  1. Buying a house: if the house is solely in your name and you have no children, it goes to your parents. But what if your parents aren’t capable of taking care of it? Maybe they’re in a nursing home and maintaining a house will be a burden. Then that’s something you need to think about and plan for.
  2. Getting married: getting married means that you’re adding someone into your life. Make sure both parties understand where your assets are. And, that you understand the legalities behind it. For example, joint tenants have everything in joint accounts. But, if you don’t want the debt from one party to impact another, then you might not have joint accounts for everything. If something happens to the other person—like your spouse dies or becomes incapacitated—then the other party doesn’t have immediate access to resources. In this case, a power of attorney (POA) would be an invaluable legal document to have.

My name is Attorney Jack Morrison. As a Clinton and Worcester Estate Planning Attorney, I assist clients every day with creating and updating their estate plans. Call my office at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

Are you planning for your future on purpose, or do you let it “just happen”? So often, we get caught up in the daily minutia of our routine that we act on autopilot. We’re just too busy, stressed, or tired to plan as we should.

This is especially true when it comes to creating—or updating—an estate plan. After all, you know you’re going to die someday, right? (If you answered “no,” then we need to talk.) So it just makes sense to make sure that your assets are distributed how you’d like and your loved ones will be provided for.

Everyone knows they need an up-to-date estate plan. So why do so many have plans that are out of date, or worse, non-existent? Because humans are wired to be more reactive than proactive.

The author in this article states that there are three things we can do to be more proactive:

  1. Ask yourself what is likely to happen, and react to it before it happens.
  2. Rise above the difficulties of the moment, see the big picture and make the changes you need to make.
  3. Sometimes, you may not have that energy. At such times, it serves no purpose to berate yourself for being weak. Think of your “reactivity” as a symptom instead of a failure. You need a break. Take it.

Be a proactive person when it comes to creating an estate plan. Plan for it and benefit from the fact that you’re taking very necessary precautions. In the event that something was to happen unexpectedly, your family and loved ones will be provided for.

Don’t let your future “just happen” when it comes to providing for your loved ones. My name is Attorney Jack Morrison. As a Clinton and Worcester, MA Estate Planning Lawyer, I assist clients every day with creating and updating their estate plans. Call my office at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

 

The Fear of Death: Is This Phobia Holding You Back?

by Jack Morrison on July 12, 2011

Death is going to affect us all. Although many have tried to put off the inevitable by masking their fears of growing older with mid-life crises, daredevil stunts, or plastic surgery, our time on earth will come to an end someday. Many of us, while acknowledging it’s a hard fact to swallow, accept this fact of life. But there are others who are so overly fearful it impacts their day-to-day life and the decisions they make. So they avoid thinking about it at all. 

Your death impacts more than just you—it impacts your loved ones. That should be a powerful motivator for putting plans in place to make sure they are taken care of. If you refuse to deal with or accept death, you will put aside many important decisions that need to be made: funeral wishes, creating an estate plan and getting your finances in order. 

As one website dealing with fear rightfully states, 

“A healthy fear of death would be the fear of dying unprepared, as this is a fear we can do something about, a danger we can avert.” 

Here are a few tips you can use to quiet your fear of death:

  • Seek guidance from a professional. Talk out your fears and gain back control of your life.
  • Live life to the fullest. Living with no regrets is something only we can do for ourselves.
  • Explore the meaning of death and the afterlife with different religions. Sometimes it just takes a leap of faith.
  • Make plans to take care of your loved ones upon your passing. Creating an estate plan will provide you relief and peace rather than more anxiety or sadness.  

Be a planner. Make things happen. And enjoy the time you do have on this earth. 

My name is Attorney Jack Morrison. As a Worcester, MA Estate Planning Lawyer, I assist clients every day with creating and updating their estate plans. Call my office at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

This Monday, on the 4th of July, we’ll celebrate the liberation of our great country from unwanted oppressive rule. Today, we can take away a valuable lesson from those American heroes who led the way long ago: be courageous enough to seek financial independence. Liberate yourself in order to get a fresh start. 

Creating an estate plan will allow you to protect what you have and decide where your assets will go upon your death. Knowing you’re preserving your future—and that of your loved ones—will be very freeing. 

In my Worcester, MA estate planning practice, I see a recurring theme of why people put off creating an estate plan: procrastination. Many think that nothing will ever happen to them, and there are other, higher priority items on their to-do list. But what if something were to happen? Creating an estate plan is gaining independence free from making decisions beyond the grave. 

The creation of an estate plan is usually triggered from two life-altering events: 1) starting a family or 2) nearing retirement age. Both pivotal events help you understand how fragile life is. When you have a will, you’ve made provisions. For young families, you’ve selected a guardian who will love your children and who will raise them with the same beliefs you have. For retirees, you understand that life occurs when you’re busy making other plans. You finally (although probably reluctantly) understand your mortality. 

Getting your financial matters in order is important. Independence is coming to the realization that you have the power to make decisions that will benefit you and your loved ones. You will be amazed at the relief you’ll feel. 

My name is Attorney Jack Morrison. As an estate planning attorney in Worcester, MA, I assist clients every day with creating and updating their estate plans. Call my office at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

Estate Planning for Blended Families

by Jack Morrison on June 24, 2011

Like many individuals who have entered into a second marriage, you and your new spouse might each have your own children. This situation can often complicate even the best intentions when it comes to creating an estate plan for your blended family. And although discussing these details with your new spouse might be difficult, it’s essential to come to an agreement about how assets will be distributed once you or your spouse pass away. 

If you’re part of a blended family, here are a few things you need to consider:

  • Do you want to leave your new spouse part of your estate, or do you want it all to go exclusively to your kids?
  • If your children are young, decide whether you want your new spouse to be the guardian or if you’ll choose someone else entirely.
  • There are pre- and post-marriage assets that both you and your spouse are bringing to the new family. How will these be divided up?
  • Look into creating a revocable trust. This basically means that certain terms and conditions cannot be changed upon your death.
  • Although you think there may not be enough money saved to warrant making complex plans, deciding how allocations will be divided in advance (no matter how much money or assets are left) can save your family from serious arguments in the future.

Today, there are not many family unit relationships that are simple. Although you may initially be timid about having this talk with your spouse, it’s critical you make sure your loved ones are taken care of. 

My name is Attorney Jack Morrison. As a Massachusetts Estate Planning Lawyer, I assist clients every day with creating and updating their estate plans. Call my office at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

When your children were young you created an estate plan, right? Well, before you knew it, the years passed quickly and your children have grown up to become teenagers. Have you updated your estate plan to account for the appropriate changes? Teens have different needs than young kids, and it’s equally as important to make sure they are provided for and their future has been carefully considered.                     

Here are a few tips to help you update your estate plan for your teenage children: 

  • Have a talk with your teens about what will happen in the event you pass away. Although this will not be an easy conversation, respect their maturity and their right to know (and possibly provide input about) who they will live with and what assets will transfer to them.
  • Talk to your kids about their inheritance and what you would prefer them to do with the money. Also, be up front with them about the age you determine that they’ll receive the inheritance and why. If you pass away unexpectedly this conversation will prevent any anger, sadness or confusion about the financial decisions you made and why.  

As your children grow up to become young adults, you’ll want to prepare for this stage in their life. Estate planning is not a selfish act—it’s intended to provide for your children and loved ones. My name is Attorney Jack Morrison. As a Worcester, MA Estate Planning Attorney, I assist clients every day with creating and updating their estate plans. Call my office at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

On June 1, 2011, Massachusetts experienced a rare event: a deadly tornado that ripped through the state killing 4 people, injuring dozens of others and causing tens of millions of dollars in damage. This tornado marks one of the worst disasters in recent state history. 

Here are a few facts following this devastating event: 

  • 1,000 National Guard troops have been mobilized to assist with cleanup and search-and-rescue operations
  • A state of emergency has been declared
  • Over 300 people have sought shelter relief
  • Homes, buildings, churches and cars have been damaged, flattened and destroyed
  • Homeowners have filed more than $90 million+ in residential insurance claims alone 

These difficult times prompt us to sit back and reflect on what’s truly important and what we are grateful for. We still have our homes, our families and our freedom. And for those families and individuals that were impacted, national, state and local organizations are doing what they can. But despite the relief efforts, these organizations are stretched thin and can use additional resources. 

If you’re interested in volunteering time, effort or monetary donations, the Pioneer Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross is a worthy organization you might want to consider supporting.**

The Red Cross is accepting monetary donations which enable them to provide shelter, food, and emotional support in response to disasters. For more information, visit http://www.redcrosscwm.org/  or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Contributions may also be sent to the American Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter at 506 Cottage St., Springfield, MA 01104 or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

**The Law Office of Jack Morrison has no affiliation to this charity and is just passing along resources to those interested in helping victims of the tornado.