Planning for the future

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 So why do so many have plans that are out of date, or worse, non-existent?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.

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 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.

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.

When You Die, What’s Really Included In Your Estate?

by Jack Morrison on April 5, 2011

Estate planning can be a confusing topic for many people. Understanding the legalities behind your wishes, directives and requests can get overwhelming. But, it’s important to understand a few basic fundamentals. These will help guide you in your decision for how to move forward and create a solid, educated plan. 

For example, do you understand what’s really included in your estate at the time of your death? Whatever is “solely” in your name becomes part of your estate. This can include a checking account, savings account, CD, car, piece of real estate or stock portfolio. 

But what happens if someone else’s name is on these items as a “joint tenant?” Joint tenancy is when legal ownership of an asset is held by two or more people. The advantage of this is that when a person dies, a survivor has 100% total ownership. The asset passes to the survivor. 

Here is an example:

  • Say John Doe passed away and he had a checking account is in the name of “John Doe.” Then this goes to this estate. If John and Mary Doe own this checking account together as joint tenants, and John dies, the asset, the checking account, is 100% owned by Mary Doe and is not part of the estate.

Now, knowing this, does it affect your current assets and how you’ll plan for the future of your loved ones in the event of your death? Because there are some instances in when joint tenancy is not in your or your family’s best interests. 

My name is Jack Morrison and I am a MA 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.

Last month we offered a free “Will Check-Up” promotion. Basically, the promotion (worth $225) featured a limited time offer to Massachusetts residents who had wills that needed updating. As an estate planning MA lawyer, I set aside some time recently to talk to and consult with the people who signed up to take advantage of this deal. 

Here is a case study of one couple that benefitted from the analysis

Scenario:  A husband and wife consulted with me about their will that was created 25 years ago when they had kids under the age of 10. Now, their kids are grown, married, and the couple is considering retirement. Everything was left to their kids but they were considering making changes.                                                                  

Solution: Because grandchildren were now in the picture, I advised the couple to make special provisions for their grandkids. I advised them to set up a trust to put money into a college education fund for the grandchildren in the event that their children should die. 

Outcome: Although the couple was initially hesitant to make any changes, they were grateful once they made the changes for their grandchildren in the event that an unforeseen life circumstance should arise. 

Overall, many of my clients want to know, “is my will still effective or still valid?” My answer is, “it depends.” Even though the special promotion has ended, that doesn’t mean I can’t still help you. As an estate planning MA lawyer, I have helped hundreds of clients, just like you, update their wills to account for life and situational changes.   

For more information on a will update 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.