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Estate planning is an important step in preparing for the future. You can prepare a will or trust, which establishes which parts of your estate you’d like to be given to which loved ones. A strong estate plan can protect your assets so you can maximize what you leave to your beneficiaries, provide medical instructions in case you ever can’t communicate your wishes, appoint a legal guardian for a minor, and more.

At The Heritage Law Center, our lawyer Matthew Karr provides a personalized approach to estate planning for every client’s priorities. Estate planning is for everyone, and we’ve helped clients prepare for their future and the future of their heirs by developing an estate plan that best meets their goals. If you’re seeking a skilled estate lawyer serving Lexington, we’re here to help you protect your assets and loved ones.

What’s in an Estate?

Your estate consists of everything you own. That includes:

  • Bank accounts
  • Equity in real estate
  • Investments and annuities
  • IRAs, 401Ks, and other retirement accounts (even if they have beneficiaries designated)
  • Vehicles, antiques, possessions
  • Business interests
  • Life insurance policies

Making a Will 

Some individuals in Lexington may decide to prepare a simple will, which includes their wishes regarding the distribution of property and the care of any minor children.

Wills must go through probate court, which takes time and costs money. While the estate goes through probate, your family won’t have access to the estate’s assets. The costs of probate will diminish the estate, leaving less to your loved ones.

Making a Trust for Lexington Families

A trust is a legal arrangement that names a  trustee, to manage assets in the trust for your beneficiaries. Quite often the person who created the trust (the grantor) is named the trustee. A successor trustee will also be named and will manage the trust if the grantor dies or becomes incapacitated.

For many individuals, creating an estate plan that includes a trust is the best way to accomplish their goals during life and after death. That’s because unlike a will, which only goes into effect when you die, a trust functions during your lifetime. 

Once the grantor dies, the trustee will control the distribution of assets from the trust. This may include charitable contributions or the release of money for loved ones.

People often prefer to do a trust over a will because trusts avoid probate, saving the estate the court time and expenses. Also, while a will is public knowledge because of the probate process, a trust is private so details about the estate are only accessible to the trustee and the beneficiaries listed in the trust.

What Lexington Residents Should Know About Probate

Probate is the process of transferring your assets after your death. If you create a will before you die, your estate will go through the probate court. The process will verify that your will is valid, creditors can make claims and be paid, and then your assets will be distributed as you outlined in the will. If a Lexington resident dies without a will or any other kind of estate planning, the court will determine the allocation of the assets based on state guidelines called the laws of intestacy. 

Generally, probate is a slow, costly process, which means your loved ones may have to wait longer for fewer assets and funds. The probate process can take 12 to 18 months to resolve, and it can be an expensive process if you don’t have the right plan to avoid probate. 

You’ve worked hard for your savings and surely want to leave as much of it as possible to your loved ones. Talk to a skilled estate lawyer, like Matthew Karr, Esq., who serves Lexington and can help you prepare your estate to avoid this situation. Preparing your assets for the future eases the burden of probate court and can help accelerate asset allocation to your family. 

More information about estate planning can be found in our free online report Massachusetts Estate Planning Essentials.

Talk to an Estate Attorney Who Serves Lexington

The best way to protect your assets and your family, and have the freedom to make your own decisions is to develop a plan for your estate early. This can preserve your autonomy and provide your loved one’s assets to help them stay financially stable after your death. 

If you’re ready to take control of your future and speak to an experienced estate lawyer serving Lexington, Matthew Karr, Esq., at The Heritage Law Center is here to help. Contact us today at 617-299-6976 or fill out our online contact form below for a consultation.