Unlike other lawyers, we view estate planning as a process, and not just a set of documents. We begin the process by getting to know you and your family, the role that each person plays, the goals that you have for yourselves and each other. We then identify the challenges and issues that you may face, and custom tailor solutions to meet your needs. Come to our Danvers, Massachusetts office for a consultation.

Below is a list of some of the estate planning techniques that we use.

Wills

Your Will is a fundamental estate planning document. It states the persons and/or entities that will inherit your probate assets upon your death. It also nominates one or more persons to serve as your Executor (now called a Personal Representative in Massachusetts).

Learn More

Revocable Trusts

Think of a Revocable Trust as a Will substitute. Like a Will, it states who will receive your property upon your death. But where a Will is limited to who receives what property, a Revocable Trust can specify where, when, how, and why your beneficiaries receive their inheritance. This flexibility allows you to protect your next of kin from themselves and others, and it avoids costly Probate Court proceedings.

Learn More

Durable Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxies

Durable Powers of Attorney nominate someone to make financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. Health Care Proxies operate the same way for medical decisions. These solutions are arguably more important than Wills and Trusts, because they protect you while you are still alive. Without these documents in place, someone will have to petition the Probate Court for a Guardianship or Conservatorship over you, which is traumatic for a family.

Learn More

Marital Trusts

Through creative Marital Trust planning, we can essentially double the amount of wealth that spouses can pass tax free at their deaths. For families with over $1 million of net worth (including life insurance death benefits), this technique is immensely valuable.

Learn More

Retirement Trusts

Retirement accounts (401(k)s and IRAs) have myriad regulations that dictate when beneficiaries may/must distribute their funds. These regulations make traditional asset protection planning difficult, but Retirement Trusts offer a unique solution that allows an individual to protect their retirement assets, while achieving optimal income tax planning for their beneficiaries.

Learn More

Medicaid Trusts

Due to the astronomical costs, nursing home residents invariably end up on Medicaid (called MassHealth in Massachusetts). Medicaid eligibility requires a spend down of almost all of your liquid assets, and then results in a lien being placed on your house. With a Medicaid Trust (also called an Irrevocable Income Only Trust), you can protect your home, and pass it on to your family when you die.

Learn More

Asset Protection Trusts

While almost all trusts have some asset protection features for third-party beneficiaries, some jurisdictions now allow a Settlor (trust creator) to establish a Self-Settled Spendthrift Trust. This type of trust allows a person to retain access to their assets, while preventing a creditor from reaching them.

Learn More

Special Needs Trusts

When a child with special needs reaches age eighteen, they may qualify for public assistance in the form of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid (MassHealth). However, parents and family members often wish to leave money to special needs persons. Unfortunately, these gifts can result in the individual losing their eligibility for public benefits. A Special Needs Trust (also known as a Supplemental Needs Trust) is a vehicle for providing for such an individual, while preserving their eligibility for public assistance.

Learn More

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs)

When someone dies, the total value of their assets is their taxable estate, and this includes the death benefit of a life insurance policy. For many, this death benefit pushes them over the threshold so that they have to pay an estate tax. Estate tax rates are on a sliding scale, and are very costly. An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) removes the death benefit from your taxable estate, and ensures that it goes to your beneficiaries, instead of the taxing authorities.

Learn More

Gift Trusts

Many wealthy families seek to reduce their estate tax liability by gifting assets to the next generation during their lifetimes. Less wealthy families do the same for non-tax reasons. Either way, a Gift Trust is a vehicle for making lifetime gifts to your beneficiaries, while simultaneously providing asset protection and gift tax avoidance.

Learn More

Exotic Trusts

There is no limit to the types of trusts that people can create. Some rare but powerful trusts include: Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs), Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRTs), Offshore Trusts, Testamentary Trusts, and Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts (IDGTs). If you are interested in any of these trusts, or others, we would love to hear from you.

Learn More