Providing Aggressive & Straightforward Legal Services Since 1989
At the law office of Attorney Andrew H. P. Norton, you can turn to an attorney with more than three decades of experience in crafting customized estate plans as well as representing clients in probate matters. We provide legal advice and the solutions needed to smoothly transfer your wealth to your family and beneficiaries. We also represent individuals who have been named as executors or personal representatives in the Massachusetts probate process as well as others in probate issues and disputes.
Drafting and executing wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents as well as being responsible for the distribution of a deceased person’s estate through probate must all be done according to legal requirements. Our firm can ensure that your estate matter is handled properly, whether it involves probate, trust administration, or the creation or updating of estate-related documents.
Estate Planning in Massachusetts
Estate planning uses legal tools and methods to ensure that your estate is transferred to your loved ones and favorite organizations according to your wishes. However, that is not all that a comprehensive estate plan can accomplish. Through proper documents, it can establish your wishes for your care and/or financial matters should you become incapacitated, provide for the succession of your business, make provisions for disabled family members, and more.
The legal methods for handling these matters include the following basic estate planning documents:
- Wills. These documents provide instructions for passing on your personal belongings, property, and assets, naming an executor to oversee this process, and naming a guardian for minor children, if needed, and can include burial/funeral instructions. It gives your family clarity at a time of loss and distress. Without a will, your estate will be distributed through probate according to Massachusetts probate law without any knowledge of what you would have wanted.
- Trusts. These are separate legal entities into which you transfer assets to be managed by your named trustee for the benefit of your heirs and beneficiaries. Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable, designed for various purposes, can minimize taxes, and allow your estate to be transferred without going through probate.
- Durable Power of Attorney. This allows you to authorize another person to handle your affairs when you cannot and remain in effect should you become incapacitated.
- Healthcare proxy. This document allows you to authorize a trusted person to make medical decisions if you cannot express your wishes. It can include instructions as to whether or not you wish to have life-sustaining interventions at end of life.
The above are the basic building blocks for an estate plan. Other documents and methods may be used based on the unique circumstances of your estate, your needs, and your goals regarding this issue.
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Probate is the process that distributes the estate of someone who has passed away and is done under the supervision of the probate court. Its first step is to validate the will if one exists and verify the named executor. If the person died without a will, the court would name an executor to manage the process of transferring the estate according to Massachusetts laws of “intestacy.”
The probate process involves identifying the estate property, assets, and debts. Creditors are notified so that they may make claims for the payment of debts, and any taxes are paid from the estate. Other costs can include the executor’s fees, court fees, accounting costs, appraisal costs, and the cost of a surety bond which protects heirs from any financial harm caused by an executor.
What remains in the estate is then distributed to heirs. The entire process can be complex and time-consuming. Our attorney can provide the advice and guidance you need as an executor to ensure it is done according to applicable laws. He can also represent those in disputes involving wills and executors’ actions.