Getting Started

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.

 

When you have young children, it’s hard to ever consider the idea that something unexpected might happen and you may not be around to raise them into becoming adults. After all, you’re young and healthy, right? It’s painful and sad to think these thoughts—but it’s also very necessary. Your future should include a contingency: plan for the best but prepare for the worst. After all, why would you gamble with your children’s future? 

As you consider putting together an estate plan that will provide for your young children, here are a few things to think about: 

  • Be realistic about your resources: Although you might want to set aside enough money for each of your children to attend the college or university of their choice, that time is a long way off. Make sure your children are first clothed, fed and sheltered adequately.
  • Think carefully about who you will appoint as a guardian: Many young parents put off creating an estate plan because they can’t, or don’t want to, come to a decision about who they want to select as a guardian. Choosing a guardian is not a light undertaking. You must consider the guardian’s lifestyle, values, religion and health. For example, is a grandparent healthy and capable of managing and raising one, two or three young children?
  • Consider appointing a separate person to manage the finances: It’s not uncommon for parents to appoint someone—separate from the guardian—to manage your children’s finances as they grow up. This person will handle the money, and the estate, that will be left to your kids. The individual who you choose should spend money as you would and who most closely shares your financial values and beliefs.  

If you don’t make the plans now to take care of your children (in the event something happens to you and your spouse) someone else could be making the decision for you. That could be a relative (who may or may not know your wishes), or at worst, the state who may appoint foster care or another guardian. 

Estate planning is not a selfish act—it’s intended to provide for your children and loved ones. As a Clinton and Worcester, MA 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.

Do I REALLY Need an Estate Plan?

by Jack Morrison on May 5, 2011

Every day, Americans put off making decisions about their future. If you haven’t made a decision about whether or not you need an estate plan, what’s keeping you from moving forward? Cost…uncertainty about the process…fear of making difficult decisions…not knowing where to find a good estate planning attorney? 

Last month, we told you about a way to quickly and conveniently find out if you need help planning for your future. Have you requested your free 12-point checklist to see if you need an estate plan yet? It’s painless and takes less than 3 minutes to answer the “yes” or “no” questions. You have nothing to lose! 

Here’s some information to get you started:

 Sample Questions:

  • Do you have children under the age of 18? Yes or No
  • Do you have someone who can perform routine legal actions on your behalf? Yes or No
  • Do you want to make provisions in your will that when you die, your assets go to your children or your grandchildren and not your daughter-in-law, or son-in-law? Yes or No
  • Are you concerned that once you make your estate plan and have changes, those changes can be made cost effectively? Yes or No
  • Do you have children for whom you want to make special arrangements in the event you should die, but they can’t control the funds? Yes or No 

 3 Important Things You Need to Know
Here are three important things you should know before you request the checklist: 

1.       Who are you? My name is Jack Morrison and I am a licensed estate planning in Massachusetts. I have helped hundreds of clients plan for their—and their family’s—future.

2.       Who should take this? Massachusetts residents who have never had an estate plan created or who have an old, out-of-date plan.

3.       Why should I take this? The questions are very easy – you only have to answer “yes” or “no.” After you finish, you’ll email it to our office and a confidential, customized response will be sent back to you within 24 hours.

Ready to get started? All you need to do is call our office at 508.852.7800 and request a copy of your 12-point estate planning checklist. Or, email us at mel@jackmorrison.com and ask for your free 12-point checklist. 

Once you send in the report to us (by emailing it to jack@jackmorrison.com), you’ll get a confidential, customized response emailed back within 24 hours. 

Your future is important. As a Worcester estate planning attorney, I have seen too many people stuck in bad situations that would’ve been simply resolved with an estate plan. If you have any questions, call my office, the Law Office of Jack Morrison, a Massachusetts Estate Planning Lawyer, today at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

What Are You Going to Do with Your Tax Refund?

by Jack Morrison on April 7, 2011

You, like many other Americans out there, are eagerly awaiting the day your tax refund check comes in. According to CNNMoney.com, the expected average refund amount for 2011 is $2,753. And, a blogger at TurboTax estimates that over 82% of us will be receiving a refund. That’s good news, right? But before you start dreaming of splurging on a new fully equipped media room for the basement, stop and think. Are there better, more strategic items you should be spending your refund on? 

Here are some refund spending options that are worth a second thought: 

  • Keep your energy moving forward and put some money into your IRA, Roth, or SEP. Planning for retirement is always a good idea.
  • Investing into your home is never a bad way to go. You can complete a few minor home remodeling projects, or contribute to one big one.
  • Take a much-needed vacation. Although the dividends of choosing to get away may not pay off in the long run, it helps to take a break every now and then to refresh and reboot. 
  • Put the money towards finally creating your will and estate plan. While not as sexy as buying a new, fun toy or adding to your spring wardrobe, your future is never going to plan for itself. Planning for death is difficult, but you’ll breathe easier now knowing that you’ve taken care of your family.  

You deserve your refund; after all, it’s your hard-earned money that’s coming back your way. By spending the money wisely today, you’ll be ensuring you—and your family— are taken care of in the future. 

My name is Jack Morrison and I am a Worcester, Mass estate planning attorney. For more information on wills or estate planning, call our office today at 508-852-7800. I look forward to speaking with you.

You’ve worked hard to grow your pot of gold over the last several years. Your kids are now grown and married and you and your spouse are nearing, if not at, retirement.  In light of this stage of life you’re in, have you adequately prepared for the future? Because if you don’t prepare an estate plan, your luck can run out. 

In the event of an unforeseen circumstance or your inevitable passing, you want to make sure that your wishes are carried out. For example, do you want part of your estate and hard-earned money to go to your child’s spouse, your son-in-law or daughter-in-law? Probably not. 

An estate plan will ensure that you distribute your gold, and your assets, to where you intend. If you need a refresher on estate planning, check out this guide from CNN Money. You will learn: 

So if you haven’t updated your estate plan or you don’t have an estate plan at all, take this St. Patty’s Day holiday to heart and make your own luck. Plan today for your—and your family’s—future. 

Call my office, the Law Office of Jack Morrison today at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form. I am a Worcester and Clinton Estate Planning Attorney and have helped hundreds of individuals and families with their estate plans and wills.

Time goes by so quickly these days. Thanks to technology and mother nature, life is moving and changing at a rapid pace. It’s very important to stop and think—have I prepared adequately for my future? For my family’s future?

 

If you’re like most Americans, the answer is no. According to the non-profit Ayn Rand Institute, statistics indicate that more than fifty percent of Americans die without a valid will. If an unforeseen event happened today, would you be caught unprepared?

 

Introducing our FREE 12-Point Checklist: Do You Need an Estate Plan?

That’s where we come in. We are offering a 12-point checklist for Massachusetts residents just like you. If you’re wavering back and forth on knowing whether or not you need help planning for your future, here’s what you’ll get by requesting the report: a QUALIFIED professional helping you get answers. So you can finally know where you stand and make a decision on how to move forward.

 

Sample Questions:

·         Do you have children under the age of 18? Yes or No

·         Do you have someone who can perform routine legal actions on your behalf? Yes or No

·         Do you want to make provisions in your will that when you die, your assets go to your children or your grandchildren and not your daughter-in-law, or son-in-law? Yes or No

·         Are you concerned that once you make your estate plan and have changes, those changes can be made cost effectively? Yes or No

·         Do you have children for whom you want to make special arrangements in the event you should die, but they can’t control the funds? Yes or No

 

 

5 Important Things You Need to Know

Here are five important things you should know before you request the checklist:

 

1.       Who are you? My name is Jack Morrison and I am a licensed estate planning in Massachusetts. I have helped hundreds of clients plan for their—and their family’s—future.

2.       Who should take this? Massachusetts residents who have never had an estate plan created or who have an old, out-of-date plan.

3.       Why should I take this? The questions are very easy – you only have to answer “yes” or “no.” After you finish, you’ll email it to our office and a confidential, customized response will be sent back to you within 24 hours.

4.       How do I get started? All you need to do is call our office at 508.852.7800 and request a copy of your 12-point estate planning checklist. Or, email us at mel@jackmorrison.com and ask for your free 12-point checklist.

5.       How do I find out the results? Once you send in the report to us (by emailing it to jack@jackmorrison.com), you’ll get a confidential, customized response emailed back within 24 hours. 

 

Act  now—request your report today. Besides consulting with an estate planning lawyer, this is the next best thing to knowing whether or not you need help planning for your future. Call my office, the Law Office of Jack Morrison, a Massachusetts Estate Planning Lawyer, today at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

Completing your estate plan is a must for all parents. After all, estate plans provide for the financial, physical, and overall well being of their children in the event of an unforeseen circumstance such as death or severe illness. But for parents of children with special needs, having a solid, up-to-date estate plan in place is critical.

According to a MetLife survey, 60% of parents with a special-needs child don’t think their kid will ever be financially independent. So what can parents do now to prepare for their children’s’ future? The March 2011 issue of Parents Magazine states that you should talk to your estate planning lawyer about these two things: 

  1. Prepare a Will:
    A will is a document that specifies who will inherit your cash, bank accounts, cars, insurance, real estate and valuables like jewelry after you die. But, it does so much more than that. Babycenter.com says that a will is the “single most important thing you can do to make sure your child is cared for by the people you want if anything should happen to you.” Creating a will means that you’re providing for your special needs child and that they’ll be taken care of, long after you pass away.
  2. Apply to Maintain Guardianship:
    Once a child turns 18, he or she is usually considered to be a competent adult. A guardianship normally lasts until this age—unless you apply to maintain guardianship. In the event that your child will not be able to handle his or her own financial (and other) decisions as an adult, you need to petition the court for full guardianship. This will make sure you stay in control well after their 18th birthday.

Thinking about long-term care for your special needs child is scary. But by preparing for their future now, you’ll ensure that they’re taken care of and nothing is left to chance.

If you’d like to speak to an estate planning lawyer in Worcester, MA, call my office, the Law Office of Jack Morrison, today at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.