Until there is a serious accident, stroke, or death in their family, most people do not realize the significance of planning ahead and having an appropriate Estate Plan in place. We at Topkins & Bevans have designed an approach to simplify the creation of Estate Plans for our clients. We have developed a straightforward Estate Plan Questionnaire that can be accessed, and completed, on-line. After we receive and review the completed Questionnaire, we will develop a set of recommendations for you that fits your individual estate planning needs.
Our standard estate plan provides couples with Wills, Living Wills, Health Care Proxies, HIPPA Forms and Durable Powers of Attorneys. Unlike many other law firms, we have set fees for almost every kind of Estate Planning document, so you will know, up front and in advance, your cost for the Estate Plan. If we get timely responses from you, we can complete a comprehensive Estate Plan for you in less than thirty days.
Here follows a short explanation of the documents we have described above, which you may find helpful in moving forward with your Estate Plan:
- Will: This is a critical document. It sets forth those persons to whom you wish your assets to go to after your death. It also establishes which person(s) you designate to serve as executor, guardian of minor children and trustee of any trusts you establish within your Will. Only by properly executing a Will can you ensure that your assets will pass in the manner you have determined. Without a Will, your assets will pass without any input from you and according to the manner prescribed by the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
- Living Will: While not an enforceable document, through the Living Will you will let your loved ones know whether extreme measures should be taken, or not, to keep you alive when your physical condition is such that there is virtually no chance that you will recover.
- Health Care Proxy: If you are not in a position to do so, then this document sets forth those persons who can give informed consent for medical care to be taken for you.
- HIPPA Form: This document gives certain persons the right to access your medical records and history. Such persons are typically your Health Care Agent, or his or her successor.
- Durable Power of Attorney: This document gives your spouse, or other trusted person, the legal authority to carry on your affairs if you are incapacitated or unavailable. Without this document, if you were incapacitated, then your spouse or other trusted person would have to commence a legal an action in the Probate Court for the authority to administer your financial affairs.
Our firm can also provide you or your family with representation in connection with the handling of an estate, including the probating of the Will, or if there is no Will, assisting in the administration of the estate. Our services include ensuring the Probate laws are properly followed and that the required court filings are timely completed. We will also assist with assembling the probate estate inventory and providing the required accounts with respect to the estate.
Topkins & Bevans also has experience and expertise in handling other aspects of Estate Planning, including the following:
- Elder Care Planning.
- Planning for a Family Member with “Special Needs.”
- Obtaining Guardianships or Conservatorships.
- Creation of Irrevocable Trusts, so that life insurance proceeds will not go through your probate estate.
- Creation of Lifetime Revocable Trusts to take advantage of the new Estate Tax Laws that are going into effect in 2011.
To learn more about the elements of an estate plan click here.