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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Digital Assets in Estate Administration (the Ajemian case)


Online and digital profiles and currency have only increased in popularity over the past decade and will likely do so for the foreseeable future.  Cash is being replaced by PayPal, Venmo, and BitCoins; the phone book has been replaced by Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor; and bank and financial institutions send bills and statements through e-mail as opposed to regular mail.  While all of these technological innovations have their benefits, there is still the lingering question of what happens to your digital estate after you have passed away.  A recent Massachusetts case has analyzed a personal representative's authority to obtain access to the contents of a decedent's email and digital assets without express instructions from the decedent.

On August 10, 2006, John Ajemian passed away unexpectedly leaving no will.
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Monday, June 24, 2019

Mass Health and Testamentary Trusts


In order to qualify for Mass Health, individuals must have no more than $2,000 in assets.  Oftentimes this leads to people panicking and trying to spend or hide all of their money and assets.  Irrevocable trusts are a great tool to protect assets for Mass Health eligibility, however Mass Health has a very strict five year look back period, meaning any transfer of assets must have occurred more than five years prior to eligibility.  Unfortunately, many people do not plan far enough in advance (or there is an unexpected injury or illness at a young age) and the five year period is devastating on the healthy spouse's financial future.  There is a strategy that can avoid heartache in the future.
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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Benefits of a Revocable Trust


While it is true that Irrevocable Trusts provide more complete and far reaching protection for your assets, there are benefits to utilizing Revocable Trusts as well.  Many clients are spooked by the idea of an irrevocable trust, which takes away both your ownership and control over your assets in exchange for protection if you have to go into a nursing home.  Revocable trusts do not offer protection from nursing homes, but there are still benefits to utilizing them.

First and foremost, if your assets are held in a revocable trust, this avoids the probate process which will save your loved ones significant money when you pass away.  A properly drafted revocable trust promotes greater efficiency and a smooth transition of assets in the manner in which you would like your assets to transfer.
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Friday, January 25, 2019

Trusts: A Brief Introduction


For individuals interested in estate planning, there seems to be a lot of interest in Trusts, but also a lot of misinformation.  There are certain situations where Trusts are the best estate planning tool to meet an individual's goals, and other situations where Trusts would unnecessarily complicate an otherwise straightforward situation.  There is also a lot of situations that exist in between those two points.  Some background information on Trusts may be helpful.    

Generally speaking, there are two types of Trusts: a testamentary trust and an inter vivos trust.
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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Estate Planning Tips for the New Year


Every year, millions of people make their "New Year's Resolutions."  These resolutions can include accomplishing a personal goal or making a change to improve a person's everyday life.  In 2019, one such New Year's Resolution could be to work on your own estate planning goals and objectives.  To kick off 2019 correctly, I am offering three complimentary and useful estate planning tips.

1.
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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Advance Directives, Living Wills, and Health Care Proxies


One question that comes up a lot when talking with clients about estate planning is "what is a Living Will and do I need one?"  The answer depends on what state you live in.

First, it is important to understand exactly what a Living Will is.  A Living Will has nothing to do with your Last Will and Testament.  A Living Will is a legal document that allows a person to list medical treatments that they would or would not want if they become terimnally ill are become unable to make their own health care decisions.  It is a type of Advance Directive, that is recognized in most states.
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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Considering BitCoin, Facebook, Paypal, E-Mail, and other Digital Assets in Estate Planning


It is estimated that three-fourths of all adults who use the internet are on Facebook (roughly 58% of the population in the United States).  Only a small fraction of those people have made arrangements for what happens to their Facebook profile after they die.  Some people may not be concerned with how, or if, their Facebook profile lives on after they die, but what about other digital assets?

In today's world, many people have digital currency, such as an account with PayPal.  Many people have stored Amazon gift cards that can amass hundreds of dollars.  Unless someone gains access to your password after you die (and hopefully that someone is someone you would want to have access to your password), this money can be lost in cyberspace and not passed on to your loved ones.
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Friday, December 1, 2017

When You Should Review Your Will and Other Estate Planning Documents

Probably the most common legal request I get is to draft a will for a client.  Inevitably the client has one major question: how often do I need to update or change the will?  Truth be told, there is no hard and fast rule about how often you should update or change your will, but there are some important guidelines to follow.

First, you should review your will (and all of your estate planning documents, including your health care proxy and durable power of attorney) immediately after a major life event.  These life events include (1) the death of an immediate family member; (2) a chance in marital status (marriage, divorce, annulment, passing of your spouse); (3) an addition to your family (birth of a child or grandchild, adoption, new marriage, stepchildren, etc.); (4) a loved one has become ill, incapacitated, or dependent on you; (5) there has been a substantial change in the value of your assets (new house, boat, job, etc.


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Friday, May 26, 2017

A Defective Will Can Cost You and Your Family Time, Energy, and Money

We've all seen the advertisements or received the e-mails saying that estate planning is easy and can be done hassle free online.  In fact, I recently received an e-mail from Groupon offering a significantly discounted will package including a last will and testament, healthcare proxy, and durable power of attorney at a significantly reduced cost.  While the cost reduction sounds great, the laws in Massachusetts and Rhode Island do not care if you did your estate planning yourself or if you hired the best lawyer in the country to do so.  At the end of the day, your estate planning has to conform to your state's unique and non-waivable rules of law. 


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