Estate Planning

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.

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.

This is the third week in our monthly May series, “What Happens When You Decide You Need an Estate Plan?” So far we’ve discussed the basic components and documents of an estate plan, why it’s important to assess what stage in your life you’re at, what decisions need to be made and what happens during your first meeting with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney. Now, we’ll discuss what goes into executing your estate plan.                                                        

Week 3: What Happens at the Document Execution Meeting?
When creating an estate plan, you’ll have two meetings with your estate planning attorney. The first meeting, as we previously discussed, is to talk with your attorney about your needs, requests, and ask any questions you may have. Based on your responses, the attorney will take some time and draft up the documents. Your attorney will then send them to you for your review. Then, you’ll come to the attorney’s office for a second, final meeting in what is often called the document execution meeting. 

At the document execution meeting, you’ll have the opportunity to review the final drafts of the documents. Hopefully you’ll have looked over the documents that were emailed to you and will agree with all the changes. The signing of the documents, or execution, will need to be witnessed. That includes your will, healthcare proxy, durable power of attorney, etc. The documents are executed, which means they’re completed. And then you can breathe a sigh of relief: your estate plan is completed and you and your family can rest easier knowing you’ve planned for their future. 

Next week, we’ll discuss the final part of what to expect when creating an estate plan: planning and anticipating future changes down the road. If you have questions now that I can answer for you, don’t hesitate to reach out. As a Worcester, Mass Estate Planning Attorney, I assist clients every day with their estate plans. Call my office at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

This week we continue the next part in our monthly May series, “What Happens When You Decide You Need an Estate Plan?” When we last left off, we talked about the essential components in an estate plan. Now, we’ll pick up talking about the second part of what to expect when you decide you need an estate plan.  

Part 2: What Happens When You Decide You Need an Estate Plan?
Typically, when you come to the conclusion that you need an estate plan, you set up a meeting. Your Worcester estate planning attorney will go through and ask what you’ve done so far. For example, do you have any of the aforementioned documents? If you do, what has changed since initial documents were created that now causes you to make changes? Then, a series of appropriate changes and decisions are made depending on your responses. 

Your attorney will sit down and go through your needs, explain all the documents, and depending on your comments, will obtain the necessary information to fill out the other forms. At the conclusion of the meeting, you’ll have an idea of what you need, what you need to go home and look for, and what documents are needed to accomplish the goals discussed in the meeting. 

Then, a follow-up meeting will be scheduled to complete and execute the documents. Before that meeting happens, your attorney’s office will send over the documents to review. You’ll want to make sure they honor the wishes you discussed during the initial meeting. 

Next week we’ll discuss: What Happens at the Execution Meeting. If you have questions now that I can answer for you, don’t hesitate to reach out. As a Worcester, Mass Estate Planning Attorney, I assist clients every day with their estate plans. Call my office at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

You’ve been toying with the idea of creating an estate plan—but you haven’t moved forward yet. What’s stopping you? Many times, it’s the fear of the unknown. You don’t know what the process will be like or what to expect. 

That’s why throughout the entire month of May, I’m dedicating each week to educating you about the process of what to expect in our Estate Planning Series, “What Happens When You Decide You Need an Estate Plan?” 

Here’s a taste of what you can expect over the next few weeks: 

Week 1: What Happens When You Decide You Need an Estate Plan? (Part 1)
Week 2: What Happens When You Decide You Need an Estate Plan? (Part 2)
Week 3: What Happens at the Execution Meeting?
Week 4: What Changes Will You Need to Make? 

If you have any questions at all over the next few weeks, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at The Law Office of Jack Morrison at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form. 

Week 1: What Happens When You Decide You Need an Estate Plan? (Part 1)
An estate plan is one of the most important things you will ever do to plan for your future. Basically, estate planning is a method to determine how you intend to use your assets today, tomorrow and when you die. It involves the property that you currently own and may acquire, the possible needs you may require if unable to care for yourself and the decision of where and who shall receive your assets when you die. 

Certain documents are required for an estate plan: 

  • Will
  • Healthcare Proxy
  • Power of Attorney
  • HIPAA Release
  • Declaration of Homestead
  • A Trust (if applicable)

These are the basic components. The importance of having these (or additional) documents depends on where you are in life and what your status is. But, whether you’re single, married, divorced, remarried or widowed, having an estate plan is important. For every stage of life. 

Stay tuned next week when we finish discussing what happens when you decide you need an estate plan. If you have questions now that I can answer for you, don’t hesitate to reach out. As a Worcester Estate Planning Lawyer, I assist clients every day with their estate plans. Call my office at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

Hunting for your homestead? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy—or fun—as hunting for candy-filled eggs. The older we get, we don’t have as much time to spend looking for hidden objects.  But this Easter, The Law Office of Jack Morrison is helping you get a JUMP on locating your homestead information. 

With a homestead, either you have it or you don’t. In light of the new 2011 Massachusetts Homestead Law changes, you might be wondering whether: 

  1. You have a homestead
  2. Your homestead is valid 

As we explained in last week’s blog post, a homestead is a law that gives protection from creditors (provided you own the home and it’s your primary residence). 

For our Easter promotion, we’ll do three things: 

  1. Check to see if a homestead was ever recorded and filed on your property
  2. Check to see if your homestead needs to be updated
  3. And, as a bonus, well give you a copy of what we find 

This egg-cellent promotion is yours FREE until April 27, 2011. 

If you don’t have a homestead and don’t know how to get one filed, we can help you with that. Or, if you’re interested in filing for the full $500,000 equity exemption, we can help you with that too. 

To get started, call the Law Office of Jack Morrison today at 508-852-7800. Or, email us here.

For more information on Jack Morrison, a Worcester Estate Planning Attorney, hop over to http://massestateplanninglawyer.com/.

You might have read about the recent 2011 Massachusetts Homestead Act that went into effect last month. If you’re a homeowner, the law is granting you expanded protection. A “homestead” is simply the name of the law that protects homeowners from losing their homes to creditors. As long as you occupy the property as your principal place of residence, you and your dependents are covered. 

As a homeowner, you absolutely need to have the homestead for estate planning and asset protection. Here is a breakdown of the top three takeaways you need to know about the 2011 MA Homestead Act changes: 

  1. With the new law, you get an automatic $125,000 equity exemption. To qualify for this, you must own a home and live in it as your primary residence. The new homestead law provides you with the automatic $125,000 without having to record anything. However, you can still get an enhanced exemption—$500,000—if you record the document.
  2. The biggest thing is that before the law changed, you had to file a document to get the $125,000 protection. Now, it’s automatic just by owning a home and deeming it as your primary residence. You don’t need to “record” your document.
  3. Here’s how the homestead law protects you: if you own property in Massachusetts and you reside in that property, you get protection from creditors (people you owe money to) to prevent them from forcing you to sell your home to pay off a debt. That’s REALLY what it this law is about. Let’s take an example:

Suppose you didn’t pay a credit card. The credit card company hired a collection agency, then an attorney to take you to court so they could put a lien on your property. What the homestead law does (if you have that homestead on your property) is prevent the creditor from forcing you to sell your home to pay off that debt. 

If you’re interested in filing for the full $500,000 equity exemption, call the Law Office of Jack Morrison today at 508-852-7800. Even if you just want more information on the Massachusetts Homestead Law, I can help you get started.