Estate Planning

Estate planning is the disposition or arrangement of the client's assets and affairs, in accordance with the client's wishes, in the best manner, to maintain and protect the family, both during the client's lifetime and after the client's death.  A primary objective is to maximize the assets passing at the client's death by minimizing estate costs and by minimizing and/or eliminating the payment of estate and gift taxes.

Estate planning services include:

  • Free initial consultation for prospective clients to review personal concerns, issues and estate planning options.
  • Development of asset protection strategies to minimize or eliminate the payment of estate and gift taxes.
  • Preparation of customized estate plan, from simple to the complex, taking into consideration client's specific situation, client's wishes and tax considerations.
  • Preparation of documents including Wills, Trusts, Durable Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxies.

Whether your estate is small or large, you should have an estate plan.  Without an estate plan, state law may control the disposition of your estate at death. With an estate plan, you can decide how to dispose of your assets, reduce estate costs including estate taxes and achieve peace of mind for yourself and your family.

Estate planning for Massachusetts residents is further complicated by the fact that Massachusetts residents are potentially subject to two estate taxes; a Massachusetts Estate Tax and a Federal Estate Tax.

The following table compares the thresholds for filing estate tax returns for both taxes:

Year

Massachusetts Exemption

Federal Exemption

2008

$1 million

$2 million

2009

$1 million

$3.5 million

2010

$1 million

No Federal Estate Tax

2011

$1 million

$1 million

This means that for some estates, no Massachusetts or Federal Estate Tax will be owed and for others, either a Massachusetts Estate or Federal Estate Tax or both may be owed.  Careful planning is needed especially in light of the uncertain estate tax situation at the federal level beyond 2011.  At present, there are no plans to increase the Massachusetts exemption amount.  At the Federal level, for several years without any success, Congress has been dealing with the estate tax post 2011.  Possible changes have included eliminating the federal estate tax, increasing the exemption amount, or changing how estate assets are valued.

In any event, estate planning is critical during this uncertain time.

Eleven (11) reasons to review your estate plan or current situation:

  1. No estate plan in place
  2. You have significant assets
  3. Recent or prospective inheritance
  4. Marriage/Divorce
  5. Birth of Children
  6. Retirement
  7. Changes in tax laws
  8. You own a large life insurance policy
  9. You are a business owner
  10. You own real estate
  11. Other changes in personal circumstances