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Estate Planning

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At North Shore Elder Law & Estate Planning your estate plan is focused on carrying out your wishes. I understand the importance of protecting your assets and making sure that your loved ones and legal affairs are taken care of when it matters most. I create, prepare and implement estate plans of varying complexity depending on your needs. Whether your goal is to minimize estate taxes, protect your hard-earned assets from potential long-term care costs, or to simply pass on as large an inheritance to your children as possible, I will design a plan to meet your goals. The core documents of an estate plan include a durable power of attorney, health care proxy, HIPAA authorization and will. Revocable and irrevocable trusts may be added depending on your circumstances. In addition to preparing estate planning documents I assist clients with re-titling accounts, changing beneficiaries and changing deeds so that assets flow in accordance with the estate plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Your will is a legally-binding statement of who will receive your property at your death. It also appoints a legal representative to carry out your wishes. The will only covers probate property, not joint property, trust property or accounts with designated beneficiaries.

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Please Note: The information provided here is a summary only and does not take into account your individual situation.

A health care proxy is a document that you (the principal) can execute when competent giving another person (the agent) the authority to make health care decisions for you if you are later unable to make or communicate such decisions yourself.

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Please Note: The information provided here is a summary only and does not take into account your individual situation.

If you ever become incompetent, it is important that someone has the legal authority to communicate your wishes concerning medical treatment. This is true especially if there were to be a disagreement among your family members about your treatment. By executing a health care proxy, you ensure that the direction you have given your agent will be carried out.

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Please Note: The information provided here is a summary only and does not take into account your individual situation.

A trust is a legal entity under which one person (the “trustee”) holds legal title to property for the benefit of others (known as the “beneficiaries”). The trustee must follow the rules provided in the trust instrument. An irrevocable trust is one that cannot be changed after it has been created. A revocable trust is one that may be changed or revoked by the person who created it. Trusts are often used for tax planning, to provide for someone who is disabled, or to shelter assets to protect them from creditors or for long-term care costs.

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Please Note: The information provided here is a summary only and does not take into account your individual situation.

Supplemental needs trusts (also known as “special needs trusts”) are structured so that the trust assets will not be considered to be owned by the beneficiary of the trust in determining his or her eligibility for public benefits, such as Medicaid, Supplemental Social Security (SSI) or public housing. These trusts are designed not to provide basic support, but rather to pay for comforts and extras that could not be paid for with public assistance funds, such as education, recreation, counseling and medical care beyond what is required simply to maintain an individual.

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Please Note: The information provided here is a summary only and does not take into account your individual situation.

Each public benefits program has its own restrictions that must be complied with in order not to jeopardize the beneficiary’s continued eligibility for public benefits.
For instance, a beneficiary would lose a dollar of SSI benefits for every dollar paid to him or her directly by the trustee. In additions, payments by the trustee for the beneficiary’s food or housing are considered “in kind” income for SSI purposes and benefits will be reduced by one dollar for each dollar of the value of such “in kind” income. Some attorneys draft the supplemental needs trust agreement to limit the trustee’s ability to make such payments; other lawyers do not limit the trustee’s discretion by the terms of the trust agreement but instead counsel the trustee on an on-going basis as to how trust funds may be spent, thus providing more flexibility for a trustee to use trust funds in case of the occurrence of unforeseen events or changes in circumstances. The difference in approach is a reflection of philosophy, the situation of the client and the size of the trust.

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Please Note: The information provided here is a summary only and does not take into account your individual situation.

The estate tax applies to both the probate and non-probate property of the individual who has died. For the federal government, the amount free from taxation is currently $11 million. Massachusetts has its own estate tax for estates that exceed $1 million. As a result only individuals with estates in excess of one million dollars will pay a Massachusetts estate tax. Regardless of the size of an estate, there is no estate tax owed when the first spouse dies, assuming that all of the estate is left for the benefit of the surviving spouse.

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Please Note: The information provided here is a summary only and does not take into account your individual situation.

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We felt you were easy to talk to and explained everything in detail. It was a pleasure working with you. We would highly recommend you to anyone. John & Cathy Summa, Medford, MA

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