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Estate Planning

Estate Plans are a great tool for individuals to ensure that their loved ones will be looked after if they can no longer care for them.  Jason is proud to provide trusted counsel to our clients. We assist families through the difficult process of creating wills, trusts, power of attorneys and health care proxies.

Jason has experience working with families who wish to draft an effective estate plan that fully encompasses their wishes and needs.

“Why do I need an estate plan?” is a question I’m frequently asked. Estate planning is crucial because states have a default estate plan for everyone. If you don’t create your own customized plan for you and your family, then the state will decide for you.

The outcome of a default estate plan can be very different from what you actually want, especially if you are single, unmarried, or in your second marriage with children from a previous relationship.

The goal of our firm is to provide, “peace of mind, through proper planning.” A well-drafted estate plan can achieve this. We can work with you to determine your specific goals and what assets or concerns you need to address now in the event of incapacity or passing in the future.

By planning ahead, you can make sure that you are in charge of your legacy, not the state.

Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust and Will

There are many benefits when creating a revocable living trust, but first, it is important to understand what a trust actually is. A revocable living trust is a legal instrument that holds property and assets for the benefit of your loved ones. The person who creates the trust is called the settlor, grantor or trustmaker. The person who manages the trust (which most likely is the person who created the trust but passes on their powers once they die) are called trustees and the people who benefit from the trust are called the beneficiaries. The advantages for setting up a trust include avoiding probate court, saving on estate taxes, planning for possible future incapacitation and privacy.

Why Create a Revocable Living Trust?

One of the first steps in the estate planning process is to establish a revocable living trust which controls the disposition of your assets which has different advantages when compared to a will. The will and trust documents are similar, as both determine how your affairs, assets, and property should be handled and distributed after you pass away. However, the greatest benefit of choosing a revocable living trust, in addition to your will, is the fact that a trust avoids the probate process, while a will alone does not. Essentially, probate gives the court the power to decide how your assets are distributed, and it tends to be a lengthy and extremely costly procedure that can demand eight to twelve months (or longer) of court procedures before your family can inherit anything. By having a revocable living trust, the process ends up being significantly quicker, and only takes weeks to resolve. If you own property in other states, a revocable living trust will be especially advantageous as it can help your family avoid multiple probate situations.

Revocable living trusts are easy to set up, maintain, or even cancel, and are nearly impossible to contest in court, if created properly. Please contact the Law Office of Jason R. Ebacher, PLLC, to discuss your options and see if your revocable living trust is right for you.

Incapacity Planning

Incapacity Planning – Accidents or a devastating illness can strike at any time, and while most people prefer to focus on the positive aspects of life, preparing for an emergency is the first step in planning for the future. What if an unexpected event left you or a loved one unable to make financial or health care decisions? Who would you turn to? In your mind, the choice may be obvious, but in the eyes of the law, things are not so cut and dry.

A spouse or child may have differing views than a parent or sibling when it comes to handling your financial or health care wishes. The unfortunate truth is that not having a power of attorney will lead to costly court appointments to resolve the matter, even if your family members are not at odds.

A power of attorney is a simple document that appoints a person to handle your affairs in the event that you are unable to. Accidents, failing health or a number of other factors can lead to a person needing a power of attorney, and if that unfortunate situation ever arises, being prepared will only make life easier for your family. The documents do not have an expiration date and will remain effective as long as the principal person is alive. Elder Law of Massachusetts, however, recommends that power of attorneys be revisited every three to five years, just in case life situations change and a new person needs to be added or removed from the document.

Incapacity Planning

Types of Powers of Attorney

Durable Power of Attorney

A power of attorney for asset management document appoints a person to handle your financial matters if you are in a situation where you cannot make decisions for yourself. The agent that you appoint will have the power to:

  •  Access bank accounts
  •  Sign checks
  •  Buy and sell assets
  •  Pay for health care
  •  Make financial decisions

Power of attorney documents allows the principal (you) to specify how and in what manner assets and money can be spent, which will take the uncertainty and guesswork out of an already stressful situation. A power of attorney comes in many forms and our expert team at the Law Office of Jason R. Ebacher, PLLC, will walk you through the process of drafting the correct documents for your financial needs. The most important step is deciding to protect your assets before an emergency situation ever happens.

Health Care Proxy

A health care proxy is a document that appoints an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf in the case of an emergency situation where you become incapacitated. The agent has the power to decide:

  • Doctors, nurses, social workers
  • Hospitals or clinics
  • Medications or tests
  • What happens to your body and organs after you pass away
  • Life support treatments (CPR, breathing machine or ventilator, dialysis, feeding tube, blood transfusions, surgery)

With a health care proxy, the principal person (you) gets to decide how an emergency medical situation will be handled without leaving family members guessing as to what should be done. Planning ahead with a health care proxy can give your caregiver, family members and other loved one’s peace of mind when it comes to making decisions about your future health care.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) release

A HIPAA release typically goes hand and hand with your health care proxy as it will specify which family members will be allowed to access your medical records in the case of an emergency.Incapacity Planning

Special Needs Planning

Planning for your future and the future of your beneficiaries can be tough, but it can be even harder when planning for persons with disabilities. We understand how challenging it can be for you and your family, especially if this is the first time developing an Estate Plan, that’s why the Law Office of Jason R. Ebacher, PLLC, is here to give your family peace of mind for the future.

What is a Special Needs Trust?

A Special Needs Trust enables people who are disabled, either mentally or physically, to receive an inheritance such as a home, life insurance, liquid accounts, etc., without jeopardizing their public benefits. This Estate Planning tool is created for disabled beneficiaries so they can obtain their rightful inheritance while allowing the beneficiary to receive essential needs-based government benefits, such as MassHealth, Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance, etc.

According to the Institute of Disability, if people with disabilities were a formally recognized minority group, at 19% of the population, they would be the largest minority group in the United States. With its diversity in gender, age, religion, ethnicity, and socioeconomic level, these 1 in 5 Americans lacks representation in Estate Planning. A Special Needs Trust is a device that is highly technical and should only be handled by an attorney, making even the smallest oversight can become a huge burden for the beneficiaries.

There are several types of Special Needs Trusts, the most common of which are self-funded and third-party.

A self-funded (also known as a First Party) Special Needs Trust is typically intended to protect the assets of an individual with a disability. This type of trust must be created by a parent, grandparent, or legal guardian, or by a court, but it cannot be created by the individual. One of the most common applications of a self-funded Special Needs Trust arises when an individual receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

SSI is a government program that provides approximately eight million low-income Americans with assistance. In order to qualify, the individual can only have $2,000 in his or her name. If that individual receives excess assets – say, for example, due to an inheritance – he or she may only continue to receive SSI by putting the assets into self-funded Special Needs Trust. Those assets can then be used to supplement the individual’s public benefits during his or her lifetime. Upon death, any funds remaining shall be distributed to the government as repayment for the cost of his or her medical care.

A third-party Special Needs Trust is similar to a self-funded Special Needs Trust in that the purpose is to protect the assets of a disabled beneficiary. Assets can be held in trust so that the beneficiary is not at risk of losing his or her government benefits upon receipt of an inheritance. The main difference between the two trusts is that, upon death, any remaining assets can be distributed to other family members, friends, or charities – thus, the assets pass on through the trust to another individual or entity, rather than being used to reimburse the government.

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