Practical Estate Planning Tips

Thinking about creating a Will or end of life planning can be uncomfortable and daunting for many people but it should not be avoided. The failure to plan for the future may place an unanticipated burden on your loved ones.

A Will is the simplest and most straightforward way for a person to make sure that their final wishes are carried out. The individual creating his/her Will chooses a trusted and responsible person, most times a close family member, to act as the Personal Representative of the Estate. It is then the Personal Representative’s job to make sure that all assets of the Estate are distributed as has been laid out in the Will.

Though many people feel that they do not need a formal Will as their loved ones will know what they want to happen upon their death, this is not practical for a couple of reasons. The first being that many times when faced with the death of a loved one, especially if the death is unexpected, family members feel overwhelmed and unsure on how to proceed. This can lead to family rifts and rushed decisions.

Secondly, when an individual passes away without a Will the probate of the Estate is dictated by Massachusetts law. The law is clear on who can serve as the Personal Representative and on how the assets will be distributed. The Personal Representative then distributes all assets as required under the law even if they know that this is not what the deceased would have wanted.

In addition to creating a Will it is also advisable that individuals appoint a Health Care Proxy. A Health Care Proxy is an individual who is appointed to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so. Your Health Care Proxy should be someone that is not only trusted but that has a complete understanding of your wishes in regards to medical treatment and end of life decisions.

If you do not have a Health Care Proxy and the situation arises where you are unable to make medical decisions, medical providers may look to your family members who may not know your wishes or who may disagree which could result again in family rifts or worse case scenario the need for Court intervention to decide on a course of medical care.

The attorneys at Heinlein Beeler Mingace & Heineman can assist in creating your Will and appointing a Health Care Proxy so that you can rest assured that when the times comes that the documents are needed everything will be in order and your wishes will be carried out.