Trusts & Wills
While Trusts and Wills, sound the same, they are quite different. Both accomplish the same goals – dispersal of one's assets to beneficiaries – but Trusts do so in a more efficient, expedited manner.
In Massachusetts, a Will requires that one's estate pass through Probate Court. That process is not only timeconsuming, but costly as it typically requires attorneys who have to appear in court, submitting paperwork on the deceased's behalf.
The first step in deciding between a Will and a Trust is determining who you want your estate to go to. Usually, the beneficiary is a combination of your spouse, children, siblings, relatives and/or friends. You can also opt to give a portion, or all, of your estate to a favorite charity. The document you choose can also stipulate when one or more beneficiaries should receive your estate. Making these decisions now can give you peace of mind that your loved ones and your interests will be protected after you die.
The next step is deciding whether a Will or a Trust is right for you. There is a commonly held belief that Trusts are only for the wealthy; that is not true. A Trust is one way of ensuring your assets will be passed along to your beneficiaries quickly and easily.
There are multiple benefits of a Trust, most important is that it helps your beneficiary (or beneficiaries) avoid the Probate Court administration which is required of a Will in Massachusetts. McManus Estate Planning LLC can write your Trust in such a way that includes additional layers of protection for your loved ones, including: providing for your spouse and/or children; producing income for a beneficiary; addressing both the Massachusetts and Federal estate tax; protecting minors and disabled children after you are gone; and protecting beneficiaries, other than yourself, from creditors.
A Trust can serve as an invaluable instrument should you have a child (or children) with a former spouse. Under such circumstances, a Trust can be written in such a way that your child (or children) can inherit their estate once they reach a certain age. Without such protections in place, your former spouse could inherit your child's (or children's) wealth as their guardian.
Anyone over the age of 18 can create an estate plan in the form of a Trust or a Will as long as they are of sound mind and are not under the undue influence of another. Before forming such a plan, it is advised you consult with an attorney experienced in the field of estate planning.
In Massachusetts, Joint Wills are not allowed. Each spouse must have her/his own individual Will, regardless of whether you hold joint assets, such as property, stock or bank accounts. An individual Will allows all your assets to be transferred to your spouse when you die. While a Will affords you and your spouse certain protections of your assets, they are not as inclusive of Trusts which provide numerous tax benefits. Those benefits will never be realized should you only opt for a Will.
While Wills are not uncommon, the majority of our clients at McManus Estate Planning use Trusts in their estate planning because they provide the types of flexibility and protection of your assets that people want for their loved ones when they die.
Regardless of what option you choose, we highly recommend you create an estate plan, particularly if you are married; married with children; single, with children; or single, with assets in your name. Not having an estate plan will mean that you will relinquish all control over your assets and what you leave behind to your loved ones. In such a case, the government will determine that you will have died “intestate” and will use the Intestacy Statute to determine how your assets will be distributed.
McManus Estate Planning LLC recommends you not only have an estate plan, but review it every two years. Such life changes as a marriage, divorce, separation, birth or death of a child, purchase of property or other changes in your assets should serve as an impetus to review your estate plan more frequently.
Our staff is available to answer any questions about your current estate plan or start the process of creating one for you. Please do not hesitate to contact us to see how we can assist you.