Category Archives: Estate Planning

Estate Dispute caused by “fill in the blank” form is a cautionary tale

A recent court decision in Florida cautions the use of “fill in the blank” or online forms for drafting your will and trusts and other estate planning documents. The court in that case was asked to rule on whether the will was valid and whether it made appropriate provisions for people not named in the…

Estate Planning for Same Sex Couples

It is an unfortunate fact of life that same sex couples do not have the same rights as opposite sex couples – even here in Massachusetts.  Many states have outlawed same-sex marriage and any and all protections for same-sex couples.  So what are they to do? There are ways to get around some issues, but…

How do you calculate the Massachusetts Estate Tax?

First, there’s a difference between the Federal Estate Tax and the Massachusetts Estate Tax.  They’re related but very different. The Federal Estate Tax for this year applies only to those individuals with assets worth over $5 Million and is taxed at a 35% rate.  The Massachusetts Estate Tax applies to individuals with assets worth over…

What are some reasons why I should discuss my Will with my children?

One reason why one would want to discuss their estate planning with their children is if they are going to name one of them as their executor.  A child should know of your plans to appoint them.  You may also want to discuss executor plans if you are having a difficult time deciding who to choose as…

Can I appoint a bank as an executor of my estate?

Sometimes you might not trust any family members or friends to be the executor of your estate.  When this occurs, you have the option of appointing a bank as executor of the estate to make sure that your wishes are fulfilled.  Banks are good executors because they are neutral to the will, they understand the law, and…

Should I update my will if my spouse recently passed away?

Yes, it is important to update, or at least have your estate planning attorney review your will once a spouse passes away in order to make sure that your assets do not end up going to an unintended beneficiary. Usually people leave the majority of their assets to their surviving spouse. Therefore, you will want…

How the President’s New DOMA Stance Affects Your Estate Plan

In short, it doesn’t.  For a more comprehensive explanation of DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act) and how it affects same-sex couples, see my post The Beginning of the End of DOMA. President Obama directed the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA in court but the Justice Department will continue to enforce it.  This is a very…

Essential Documents for Same-Sex Couples

The must-have documents for any same-sex couple, whether they are married, in a domestic partnership, civil union, or unregistered life partner, are as follows: Will.  Each person must have a will – even if you’re married.  A will allows for you to dictate where your possessions go after you die.  For couples that are not…

Who can make an oral will?

An oral will is allowed in two specific circumstances: if a “soldier is in actual military service” and if a “mariner is at sea.”  These two can make an oral statement regarding his or her property to witnesses that are present.  These witnesses will then be able to offer their testimony to the Probate Court…