New Bedford Estate Planning Lawyer

Estate planning allows you to minimize estate, inheritance, and gift taxes in order to pass more of your assets onto your beneficiaries after you pass away. An estate plan that includes a living will can protect you and ensure your loved ones know your wishes should you become incapacitated.

While some people think estate planning is only for the very wealthy, we do not believe that is the case. Anyone with children, assets, property, or debt should at the very least have a basic estate plan. Call a New Bedford estate planning lawyer at our firm to schedule an appointment and learn more.

Essential Estate Planning Tools

Everyone has unique needs—as well as their own ideas about what should happen after they pass—and so the estate plan of every person and every family will be different. Some of the most common aspects of estate plans include:

  • A last will and testament
  • Advance directives, also known as a living will
  • A health care proxy, also called a surrogate HIPAA authorization
  • A “durable” power of attorney, which becomes effective immediately and is not affected by a person’s subsequent incapacity

Creating a trust is another option when thinking about an estate plan. One of the primary differences between a will and a trust is when they become active. A will takes effect when the person making it dies. A trust becomes active when it is funded, which can be either before or after a person dies. There are four main types of trusts:

  • Charitable trusts allow a charity to receive interest payments from a trust while the creator is still alive
  • Revocable trusts can be modified or revoked during the lifetime of the creator, although beneficiaries must be notified of changes
  • Irrevocable trusts have the most tax advantages but cannot easily be altered or revoked and the court must approve any changes
  • Special needs trusts are irrevocable; they ensure a disabled beneficiary can use or otherwise benefit from assets in a trust while still receiving their needs-based government benefits

For more help deciding which type of trust is the best fit, connect with our firm today.

Declaration of Homestead

The declaration of homestead is an important estate planning document that allows homeowners to declare a piece of real estate as their principal residence. Once this is established, the property is protected under the Homestead Protection Act,  which is aimed at keeping homeowners in their homes. It safeguards homes valued up to $500,000 from creditor claims and prevents homeowners from being forced to sell their homes because of judgments or liens.

Whichever options a person chooses, an estate planning attorney at our firm in New Bedford could help prepare and draft the proper legal documents to ensure compliance with all rules and regulations.

Estate Administration and Probate

Once a person dies, before their estate can be distributed among their heirs, it must go through a legal process called probate. Estate administration and probate can take a long time, but a thorough estate plan can help loved ones and the executor of the estate avoid this. When a person with a sound estate plan dies, it helps reduce the time for probate or, in some cases, avoid it altogether. It also lowers the risk of family disputes. A New Bedford estate planning attorney on our team could help determine which option is the best fit and tailor a plan to meet someone’s needs.

When a person dies without a will or an estate plan, some assets and property must go through a type of probate called intestate succession. The probate court will distribute the assets to the estate beneficiaries in accordance with intestacy laws, which favor the closest relatives first. When a deceased person has no spouse or children, there is a specific formula the probate court follows to determine the next of kin.

Schedule an Initial Strategy Meeting With a New Bedford Estate Planning Attorney Now

Estate planning allows you to make healthcare decisions when you are incapacitated and control the distribution of your assets to your beneficiaries after you pass away. Having a basic estate plan is helpful to everyone, regardless of how wealthy they are or their age.

A seasoned New Bedford estate planning lawyer is available to answer your questions, review your options, and help prepare and draft an estate plan to safeguard yourself and your loved ones. Estate planning provides the tools you need to protect your assets and your legacy. Contact us now to get started.

Initial Estate Planning Strategy Meeting

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