Wills • Trusts • Health Care Proxy • Power of Attorney
The law office handles all aspects of estate planning. Such planning may include one or several of the following legal documents: wills, powers of attorney, health care proxies and trusts (revocable, irrevocable and special needs). Marcia carefully reviews all options with her clients and after discussions relative to a person wishes, the appropriate documents are drafted. After a lifetime of planning, it is important that a person is able to make decisions about his or her affairs. It is important to remember that most legal documents regarding estates can be modified as time passes to accommodate changes in life and changes in wishes made by a client.
A will or trust allows a person to make a final distribution of all assets he or she has acquired during his or her lifetime in the manner in which he or she chooses. Massachusetts law has recently changed (2012) relative to estates planning and administration. In some circumstances, if a will or trust has not been executed, an estate may now be divided in ways that a person did not want. Often times, a client has stated to this office that they didn’t think they needed a will because they knew everything would go to their children. Although the new law has made administration of estates more simple, the distribution of an estate of a person who passes without a will (intestate) has become more complicated. Distribution of assets to heirs under the new law may result in your estate passing to someone you would not have chosen.
Health Care Proxy
A health care proxy is a legal document that names another to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to communicate your desires to medical personnel due to an accident or illness. The person named as your health care proxy only has the “power” to make decisions for you if you cannot communicate (verbally or visually). If you are able to acknowledge by way of verbal communication or a nod of the head or movement of a hand, for instance, you retain the full and absolute ability to make your own decisions. The proxy’s power only takes effect if you cannot answer. For instance, if a proxy makes a medical decision for you when you are unconscious and you “awake” and disagree with the decision made by your proxy, your wishes are upheld and you are in control. Proxies are important to have as medical decisions made on your behalf should be made by someone you have chosen. As an example, in situations where there are several family members with the same relationship (e.g., children) medical personnel will only take their direction from the person you have named as your health care proxy.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a document which gives another person legal authority to conduct business as if they were you. A power of attorney can be a wonderful planning document, but it can also result in disaster. A person who is given a general power of attorney can empty bank accounts and sell off assets and it is perfectly legal. Do Not Sign A Power of Attorney Before speaking with an attorney. Although this document is potentially very dangerous to sign, it has certain features that make this document important is estate planning. The Power of Attorney is the only legal document in which a person may name a person to become guardian for them in the future if the maker (originator) of the document ever becomes incapacitated. Absent compelling reasons, a court will follow the desires that a person has laid out in a power of attorney if a guardianship is ever needed