Estate and Tax Planning
At Bourget Law Group, our primary goal is to help our clients structure an estate such that their final wishes can be carried out with a minimum of stress. To do so, we offer a comprehensive and sophisticated breadth of estate planning services that can help clients avoid the expense and hassle of a lengthy probate process and better deliver their estate planning objectives.
Estate Planning is the dual process by which attorneys and their clients develop a plan in the event an individual becomes physically or mentally impaired and is unable to take care of themselves and manage their finances while they are alive, as well as the process by which individuals decide to whom, how and in what manner their home, assets, personal belongings and retirement accounts will be distributed upon their death. At Bourget Law Group, our attorneys help residents of Cape Cod, the Islands, and southeastern Massachusetts make these important decisions and ensure the fulfillment of their loved one’s wishes through the execution of essential estate planning documents, such as a Health Care Proxy, a Durable Power of Attorney and an Authorization under HIPPA. During the estate planning process, our attorneys will explain the need for such documents and answer important questions, such as, what a Will is and what happens if someone dies without one, as well as what a Trust is and if it is right for you. Tax planning as part of estate planning includes the minimization of estate taxes due at death. Currently, the Massachusetts exemption stands at 1 million dollars per individual. Note: While there are no current proposals to change the amount of the exemption it is recommended that you check this site periodically to see if there have been any changes. The federal exemption, however, is in a state of flux and the current individual exemption of 11.7 million is expected to be reduced under the current administration. As part of our estate planning process, we will analyze the impact of estate taxes on the client and discuss possible avenues to reduce them, thereby reducing the financial burden on the family. Our goal is that all our clients leave our office with an estate plan that is appropriate for their situation, that they understand and that will cover all their future needs.
We believe that there is no “one-size-fits-all” estate plan. Nonetheless, a well-conceived plan will include at a minimum a Will, a Durable Power of Attorney, a Health Care Proxy, an Advance Directive, and an Authorization to Release Information Under HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Our experienced professionals will discuss all your options and prepare the following documents as necessary:
- Last Will and Testament (Will) — A Will is the most basic estate planning document. It declares how your property will be managed and distributed after you die. In addition, a Will is the only way to name a guardian to care for your minor children. If you fail to create a Will, the probate court will intervene to make these determinations according to the intestacy laws of Massachusetts, which may not agree with your wishes and may not protect your assets.
- Durable Power of Attorney — This document allows you to name a trusted person, either a family member or close associate, to manage your personal and business affairs (e.g. paying bills, managing property, monitoring investments), if a physical or mental impairment leaves you incapacitated.
- Health Care Proxy — This estate planning tool allows you to designate a healthcare representative to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
- Advance Medical Directive — This document contains your preferences regarding health care instructions, including whether you wish to receive life support systems.
- Revocable Living Trust — A Living Trust is a trust that takes ownership of your property while also allowing you to continue managing it during your lifetime. Unlike a Will, a Trust does not need to be probated since you no longer “own” the assets, which can save time and money, as well as maintain the privacy of the financial arrangements. Another benefit of a Living Trust is that it can help plan for incapacity while also minimizing estate tax consequences. It is worth noting that a Trust must go through an administrative phase to carry out its terms.
- Irrevocable Trust — Unlike a Living Trust, an Irrevocable Trust cannot be modified or altered during your lifetime; however, it avoids probate. This important estate planning tool is well-suited for those who wish to provide for a loved one with special needs, plan for long-term care,