I “Trust” you “Will” have a Great Summer!

Family reunions, barbeque’s, baseball games, beach, fun and sun: you know it’s summer! Some of my fondest memories growing up were sharing time with friends and family. Family, I believe, is the glue that hold people together. One of the driving forces for me to become an estate planning attorney was to keep families and their hard earned life savings intact.

Before becoming an elder law attorney, I was a certified financial planner. I saw several families lose everything to the cost of nursing home care. I saw first hand the devastation this had and the hopelessness it created. It doesn’t have to be this way. All you need to do is a little strategic planning ahead of time with a qualified elder law attorney. They are experts in this field.

So, this summer when you’re having that backyard cookout and enjoying a delicious cocktail, think about what’s really important to you. If it’s family, then make sure you have your estate planning documents in place!

Elder Law Attorney Romano practices Estate Planning, Medicaid Planning and Asset Protection. He regularly conducts “Estate Planning Essentials” workshops. Call us today at (617) 769-9843 to see how we can help your family.


Where There’s A Will, There’s A Wait!

Unless You Create a Clear Plan

Many people believe that if they have a will, their heirs will not have to go through probate. Actually, the opposite is true. Probate is the legal process of proving that your will is valid. Probate generally involves both attorney fees and court fees.

People also believe that if they have a will, the distribution of their assets will proceed smoothly. This can be true, with the process taking as little as six months if all goes well. However, if there any problems, it can drag on for years. It just takes one disgruntled heir to contest a will. Then, all bets are off. Besides the time delay, the added costs can add up quickly. Nobody wants their money unnecessarily going to attorney fee’s instead of their loved ones.

If you created a will 20 years ago, you really should review it. A 20-year-old will might not represent your thoughts today. You need to make sure your will is tailored to meet all of your current needs and wishes.

Here’s an example. Rose, 78 and a widower, lived in a nice house down on the Cape. She paid off the mortgage years ago and lived on Social Security, a pension from the telephone company and an annuity.

Rose had a will that left everything to her three children equally. All “great” kids who got along. Billy lived in Maryland, Linda in Chicago and Bobby in Quincy. When Rose passed away, Billy and Linda wanted to sell the house. They had kids in college and the money could help with tuition. But Bobby said, “No way!” He had spent vacations and weekends with his kids visiting Mom at her Cape house. According to Bobby, Mom said the house would always go to him. He was the only one who enjoyed the house as much as she did.

Can you imagine the problems and legal bills that could ensue? Did Rose really want her children fighting over a piece of property?

Unfortunately, this type of scenario happens all the time. Mom had good intentions, but her 20-year-old will did not have everything spelled out. Rose could have had a trust, either a revocable or an irrevocable trust, to avoid probate. The trust also would have stated exactly what she wanted done in great detail. For instance, she could have said, the house goes to my three children equally, but, Bobby has the right of first refusal to purchase the house. As an alternative, she could have stated Bobby will get the house and the remaining assets would be divided between Billy and Linda, or whatever other wishes she decided on. Rose also could have decided these things ahead of time and shared her wishes with her children. Although Rose could have included these wishes in her will, just having a will would still require the children to go through the probate process.

Make sure you have the estate planning documents you need so your wishes will be carried out without any problems, unnecessary costs or delay.


Does an “I Love You Will” really show your true affection?

A will is a legal document that lets you tell the world who should receive your assets after your death. An “I Love You” will basically states, I leave everything to my spouse first and then to our children equally. In real life this type of will can become anything but loving.

Marge and Walter have three wonderful children, Beth, Dave and Mark. Beth lives locally and helps mom and dad out all the time. Dave and Mark live out of state. Other than a visit or two a year, they are not involved in mom and dad’s daily life.

Marge and Walter have a cottage down the Cape, in addition to their primary home,. Beth and her family look forward to weekend visits in the summer. Her children feel like it’s their summer home because they spent so much time there with Nana and Grandpa. Due to distance and their own busy lives, Dave and Mark haven’t been to the cottage since they were little.

If Marge and Walter had an I Love You will, what do think would happen to the Cape cottage, after they both pass?  Beth would want to continue to use the cottage. She might even feel like the cottage should be hers. Dave and Mark do not want the cottage and could really use the money. Would mom and dad want their children fighting over the cottage or at the very least have bad feelings amongst them? What happens to the primary residence as well?

There are alternatives to an “I Love You” will. An experienced estate planning attorney can explain your options and counsel you on how to best achieve you wishes. Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Plan your Estate and your wishes will come True.