|1. Why should I have a will?
A Will provides the opportunity to stipulate with clarity the people you would like to receive your assets upon your
death. In addition to making gifts of your assets, it is the document through which you name guardians of minor
children (under age 18) and through which you name the person who will administer your Will through the probate
court, known as the executor or executrix.
2. What is a Health Care Proxy?
A Health Care Proxy is a legal document that allows you to name a person to have the authority to make health care
decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make such decisions for yourself.
3. What is a Durable Power of Attorney?
A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to name a person to have legal authority over all of
your financial affairs should you become incapacitated.
4. Why would I want to give someone authority over my assets?
Both single and married people very often will have assets in their name alone or have assets which mandate they be
the signatories. If the owner of the account became incapacitated, no other person would have access to those
assets. The Durable Power of Attorney provides a cost-effective means for a family member or friend to take charge
of financial affairs in the event of incapacity.
5. What if I die without a will?
Dying “intestate,” or without a valid will means that Massachusetts law will determine which people will inherit your
assets, and not according to your wishes. Executors and guardians of your minor children will be selected by the
court. There will be no way to make specific gifts, no ability to do estate tax planning, and probating your estate will
ultimately take longer and be more costly.
6. Does a Will control where all of my assets go?
Your will only controls assets which are in your name alone at the time of death. Jointly-owned assets (such as a
residence owned jointly by husband and wife or a bank account owned jointly by a mother and child) do not pass
through your Will. In addition, assets which have a contract beneficiary (such as life insurance, individual retirement
accounts and retirement plans) do not pass through your Will.
7. Does a Will avoid probate?
No, exactly the opposite. A Will ensures that your assets and affairs will be administered through the probate court,
which is often costly and takes a long time to complete. However, through proper planning with an experienced
estate planning attorney like Lynn, the involvement of the probate court can be minimized or avoided completely at
the time of death.
8. Can I change my Will?
A Will can be changed; however, to do so requires you sign an amendment to your Will (known as a codicil) with
the same cumbersome witness and notary requirements as signing your original Will.
9. What is a Living Trust?
A trust is a written document under which one person, called a trustee, holds legal title to property for another
person, called a beneficiary. A Living Trust (also called an "inter vivos" trust) is simply a trust you create while you're
alive, rather than one that is created at your death. You can be the trustee of your own Living Trust, keeping full
control over all property held in trust during your lifetime. You can also change or revoke your Living Trust during
10. Why would I have a Living Trust?
Different kinds of Living Trusts can help you avoid probate, reduce estate taxes and preserve your wealth for your
heirs, provide guardians with the funds necessary to care for your minor children, and direct the distribution of funds
and assets to your children (or other beneficiaries) beyond the age of eighteen.
11. Does my trust go through probate?
A Living Trust is specifically designed to avoid the probate court process. If properly drafted, the trust and all
assets the trust controls at the time of the creator's death will be free from probate court involvement.
12. Does a trust have the same witness formalities as a Will?
Under Massachusetts law, a trust is valid if signed by the creator and by the trustee. The witness formalities of a Will
do not apply to a trust. For this reason, the trust is a more flexible document to change from time to time as the
witnessing requirements of a Will do not exist.
Frequently Asked Questions
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