Serving Massachusetts clients in the preparation of Wills
A Will is a legal document that is the cornerstone of your estate plan.
A valid Will shall help accomplish the following:
- Designate the persons or “beneficiaries” who will receive the assets you own (at what ages and/or conditions)
- Appoint a legal guardian(s) and conservator(s) for your minor children
- Designate a Personal Representative who will have the duty of seeing that the terms of your Will are fulfilled
Know the risk of dying without a Will. If you die “ intestate” or without a valid Will, your probate assets will be distributed according to the laws of the state of your domicile and an Administrator of your Estate shall be appointed by the Probate Court. The court will also appoint a legal guardian (to oversee personal and medical decisions) and/or conservator (to oversee money and property decisions) for your minor children.
Know the limits of a will. Although a legal will can prevent your property from being distributed according to the provisions of state law, it does not override a distribution via “contract” or “operation of law” (i.e. a beneficiary designation under a life insurance policy, retirement plan, or a joint form of ownership). Many individuals unfortunately find out too late that a family member did not align the interests of the foregoing transfers with the provisions of their Will; thus the Will does not carry out that person’s wishes.
Know the weaknesses of a Will. A valid Will does not avoid the expense, delay and publicity of a probate proceeding, nor does it help to reduce the estate tax costs or protect your assets from the costs associated with long-term care.
Plan proactively and protect your wishes with a valid Will. Ensure that your Will is drafted pursuant to your wishes and complies with the formal requisites of the recently enacted Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (MUPC). If you have a Will, it is a good idea to review it periodically to assure that it is accurate and up-to-date. A Will must be executed in the presence of two witnesses and acknowledged by a Notary Public. A Will properly implemented in one state will be valid in any other state in which death may occur.
Drafting a Will is an ongoing process; you should review it regularly to ensure it is still meeting your needs. You may exercise the right to amend it with a codicil, revoke it, or replace the document at any time, for any reasons.