Attorney Rachel M. Matos is a dedicated estate planning lawyer in Norfolk Massachusetts and concentrates in areas of estate law including probate, wills, trusts, guardianship and conservatorship law in Massachusetts.
Nobody wants to talk about or even consider the possibility of dying. Death, however, is very much a part of life and a path for us all. At the very core of our worry surrounding death is the question; what happens to my loved ones after I die? what happens to my estate when I am no longer around to manage it? These are valid questions and exactly where estate planning comes in.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the process and preparation of tasks during an individual's life aimed at ensuring the management and disposal of their assets in the event of their death or incapacitation. Estate planning involves several things, among them: making a will, setting up trusts, making charitable donation plans, appointing an executor and setting up a funeral fund.
Your particular estate plan may vary and not necessarily involve all these, but the premise is the same. It is common for many people to wonder whether they qualify for estate planning, given they don't have what would be considered abundant wealth. This is a common misconception. Estate planning aims at ensuring your dependents are well taken care of in your absence without losing anything regardless of the amount of your wealth.
What Constitutes an Asset?
Assets vary from individual to individual but are largely made up of; cars, houses, stocks, artworks, life insurance, pensions and debt.
Reasons for estate planning
- Ensuring a guardian is established for living dependents
- Setting up funeral arrangements
- Appointing an executor to the will to ensure it is followed
- Limiting estate taxes
What Happens if I Don't Plan My Estate in Taunton, MA?
If an individual does not have a valid last will at the time of death, they will then be deemed intestate. This means that the intestacy laws of the state of the last residence will determine who inherits the property. The rules generally vary from state to state, but the most common scenario in Massachusetts is inheritance by immediate spouse and children.
On matters of guardianship, the probate court will decide who will take care of your dependents. In the case of incapacitation, the court may also appoint a legal guardian over you. However, only you know the best person to take care of your wealth and children.