The Role of an Estate Planning Lawyer and His Tools

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How do you protect your assets and independence during your lifetime as well as clearly guide and protect your family after your death? Consult an Estate Planning Lawyer. It is important to consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure you not only have a plan established, but that your plan is valid and recognized under the current state laws.

An estate planning lawyer will help establish a power of attorney, living trust, and a health care proxy to protect you in your living years. The attorney will also work with you to establish a will and/or testamentary provisions within your living trust to protect those you leave behind. These measures can prevent your property from being distributed according to the provisions of Massachusetts intestacy statutes. Consequently, if these statutes are controlling your situation it means you have lost control over who receives your assets and who is appointed your children’s’ guardians real estate lawyer.

Power of Attorney
The Power of Attorney is a legal document which authorizes another person to manage your financial affairs. There are two types of powers of attorney. The first is a general durable power of attorney which gives power to another person known as an “attorney-in-fact” immediately. The second is a springing power of attorney which gives power to another person known as an “attorney-in-fact” only at the time which you have suffered a physical or mental incapacity. By having a power attorney drafted by an estate planning lawyer you can avoid the frustration, delay, and costly conservatorship process should you become incapacitated. The conservatorship process ultimately requires a judge to appoint a conservator who may in fact be a complete stranger to the family.

Health Care Proxy
The Health Care Proxy allows an adult to appoint another adult to make medical decisions should they not be able to in the future. This power includes the ability to decide if life sustaining measures should be taken. By having a health care proxy drafted by an estate planning lawyer you can avoid the frustration, delay, and costly guardianship process should you become incapacitated.

Living Will
The living will needs express his or her desires regarding the use of extraordinary measures to extend his or her life when there is no reasonable expectation that he or she will regain consciousness.

Last Will and Testament
The Last Will and Testament is a tool that allows one to bequeath assets to specific individuals and/or entities, name guardians for your minor children and potentially prevents your property and children from being distributed under the state’s default intestacy statutes. Unfortunately, many Massachusetts residents are unaware that the Last Will and Testament can neither prevent the expense, delay, and publicity of a probate preceding nor can the Will override a beneficiary designation on a life insurance policy, retirement plan, or a joint form of ownership. Therefore, the estate planner should be aware of all retirement plan beneficiaries, insurance policy beneficiaries, joint accounts and review whether a living trust should be drafted in addition to the Last Will and Testament.

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