Preserving your family’s wealth for future generations
Whether you’re planning the parameters of your future medical care or establishing support for loved ones upon your death, Attorney Brian E. Barreira can help with all aspects of your possible death or disability, including:
- Estate planning and long-term care planning
- Estate tax and gift tax issues
- Choosing the appropriate personal representative (formerly known in Massachusetts as executor), trustee and agent under your durable power of attorney
- Durable powers of attorney, health care proxies and HIPAA authorizations
- Wills, living trusts and probate avoidance techniques
Drafting your estate plan
A Will is essential at every stage of your life. Your Will provides the opportunity to distribute your property, establish care for your children and otherwise express your wishes upon your death. If you die without a Will, Massachusetts laws determine how your property is distributed, who cares for your children and even what happens to your pet.
Attorney Barreira thoroughly analyzes your estate and strategizes the best means of transferring your assets, minimizing taxes, establishing guardianship for your minor children, caring for your pets, supporting charitable causes and protecting your family. A thorough estate plan, however, involves much more than just a Will, and covers a variety of important issues, such as health care decision-making, privacy issues, inheritance issues, protection from creditors and nursing home costs, minimizing estate and gift taxes, and probate avoidance. An estate plan often consists of some or all of the following legal documents to manage your assets and health while you are living and to distribute your assets according to your wishes after you are gone:
- Last Will and Testament – A document, effective only at death, in which you (1) designate who inherits your probate assets, (2) nominate a personal representative (formerly known as executor) to distribute your probate assets after paying debts and taxes, and (3) if you have a minor child, nominate a guardian to be appointed to care for the minor.
- Durable Power of Attorney – This document allows you to appoint a person or bank to handle all of your financial affairs until your death. When a durable power of attorney only becomes effective upon incapacity, it is often referred to as a springing durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney will help avoid the need for conservatorship proceedings in Probate Court, which would involve the need for court permission on many financial transactions. The powers given to the person you appoint in a durable power of attorney must be specifically authorized, so a durable power of attorney must be tailored to your wishes.
- Health Care Proxy – This document designates who will make medical decisions for you in the event you are unconscious or mentally impaired, either temporarily or long-term. This document can usually help avoid the need for guardianship proceedings in Probate Court, and can contain a written expression of your preferences for end-of-life care.
- HIPAA Authorization – This document, which cannot legally be contained within another document, is needed to enable persons of your choice to access your Personal Health Information in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
- Declaration of Homestead – This is a recordable document that can protect the first $500,000.00 of your home’s equity from lawsuits (but we often recommend that purchasing an umbrella policy is a better move).
- Trust –A trust can be utilized for differing reasons, including: (1) to avoid probate; (2) to allow somebody of your choosing to manage your assets for you if you become incompetent, and avoid the need for conservatorship proceedings in Probate Court; (3) to provide for the protection of assets for minor or disabled children; (4) to minimize estate taxes for yourself or you and your spouse; (5) to preserve assets in case of a long-term nursing home stay; and (6) to take care of pets. There are many varieties of trusts that can hold assets for the benefit of you and other persons, and trusts can be revocable (completely amendable), irrevocable (mostly or completely unchangeable), or testamentary (included as a part of your Last Will and Testament).
- Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement – This document can be limited to protecting the inheritance rights of your children from a prior marriage or relationship. In this office, we often refer to it as an Estate Planning Agreement.
Contact an estate planning law firm you can trust, Brian E. Barreira
For estate planning services in Plymouth County and throughout Massachusetts, call Brian E. Barreira at 508-747-8282 to schedule an initial consultation.