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Why An Estate Plan?

Few things in life are inescapable. To quote Benjamin Franklin "the only things of certainty are Death and Taxes. Unfortunately for all of us, that quote has an even greater ring of truth in our day and age with the vast array of taxes and costs that can be triggered by the death of an individual. Indeed, it is for this reason that most people approach an attorney to create an estate plan. However, even if you feel that you have few assets or are too young to worry about death, estate planning is crucial. Without your instructions, a court will determine who will care for your children and what will happen to your assets, including turning everything over to your kids when they turn 18, regardless of whether they are capable of handling major financial decisions.

Another aspect of estate planning has little to do with death, but rather with the possibility of incapacity due to an accident or illness. The public drama surrounding Terri Schiavo, the 41-year-old brain-damaged Florida woman, whose parents and husband battled over whether to remove her feeding tube and allow her to die, demonstrated the importance of making a health care proxy to ensure that you have someone carrying out your wishes concerning your medical treatment should you be unable to do so.

Here are three issues to consider when deciding what kind of estate plan best suits you and your family's needs:

1. THE WILL- A will allows you to direct where and to whom your estate will go after your death. When you die without a will (Intestate) your estate will be distributed according to the laws of your state. Intestacy is a more costly legal process that can also significantly delay your loved ones from receiving funds and real estate.

If you have children who are still minors (under 18) a will is critical because it permits you to decide who will care for your children should you pass away as well as who will manage your assets for their benefit until they come of age.

2. THE TRUST- A trust is a legal arrangement through which one person, called a "trustee," holds legal title to property for the benefit of another person, the "beneficiary." The terms of the trust in which the trustee operates are set out in advance by the creator of the trust. Trusts have a number of benefits including;

  • Avoiding Probate
  • Protecting Assets from Creditors
  • Reducing Taxes
  • Flexibility

3. DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY AND HEALTH CARE PROXY- Both the durable power of attorney and health care proxy are documents that come into play in the event of incapacity. Through a durable power of attorney, you can appoint someone to handle your finances and if you are a business owner, your establishment, if you are unable to do so. Similarly, a health care proxy appoints someone of your choosing to make medical decisions for you if you cannot do it yourself. A health care proxy is especially important if family members may disagree about treatment or if you have specific religious beliefs regarding treatments.

Office Location

Stramer Law Offices
134 Main Street
Milford, MA 01757
Phone: 508-478-6944
Fax: 508-478-6949
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