One of the most critical components of Massachusetts estate planning is the drafting of the will. A will is a written document that stipulates how an individual’s property should be dispersed after death.
Legally binding, a will can be an important source of direction for family members after a person dies. Understanding the intentions of the deceased helps prevent miscommunication among loved ones and keeps legal costs to a minimum. Worcester Elder Law attorney Paula Smith provides competent, compassionate legal services for the elderly and their families in Massachusetts, including wills, trusts, and the protection of client’s assets, no matter what the size of the estate.
When a will is drawn up in Massachusetts, a person must be:
- Of sound mind
- At least 18 years old
Worcester attorney Paula Smith views the will as just one part of an elderly client’s death plan. The will (and trust, if applicable) should also address estate taxes because without guidance and provisions, beneficiaries in the Commonwealth could be liable for substantial taxes on their distributions.
In Massachusetts, a properly executed will has the following provisions:
- The will must be written
- The will must be witnessed by two competent persons
A will becomes effective at death, but it is not considered valid until it goes through probate. When writing your will, you are permitted to appoint a person to administer/probate your estate. Known as an Executor (or if female, Executrix), this person must be accountable for the management of the estate as well as taking control of the decedent's assets.
If a person dies without a will in Massachusetts, there are specific and complicated rules regarding the passing of property. Based on these complicated rules, your property may be distributed to individuals that you did not want to leave property to.
Can you do it yourself?
You could, but because drafting a will is complex, and Massachusetts laws change over time, it is advisable to use the services of an experienced elder law attorney.
The cost for drawing up a will depends on how much time it takes to fully examine and take into consideration all aspects of the client’s particular situation. Paula Smith always provides complimentary consultations and estimates for wills.