Will a Simple Last Will and Testament meet your needs?

By Attorney Daniel M. Surprenant, Esq., CELA

Many people think that all they need is a simple Last Will and Testament (Will). They also think that a Will directs all of their assets and even avoids probate. That is a common misconception.

Instead, please know that a Will only works in the context of probate. In Massachusetts, probate takes 1 to 1.5 years, costs $5000 or more, on average, and typically requires jumping through several hoops along the way. An estate planning attorney can review with you which assets will pass through your Last Will and Testament and which ones won’t. Most people want to avoid the cost and delay of probate, and therefore avoid having assets pass through their Will.

Next, a simple Will may not solve any of your actual issues. If you are concerned about any of the following issues, you may want a more detailed estate plan, beyond a simple Will:

1. Probate avoidance

2. Protection of assets from the cost of long-term care,

3. Reduction or elimination of estate tax

4. Protection for your children from their own potential divorce,

5. Keeping your estate in your bloodline, rather than going to your children’s spouses should your child pass,

6. Choosing who you would like to handle your affairs privately, without court intervention, should you  become incapacitated by stroke, heart attack, dementia, car accident, etc.

These are only a few of the issues that can be solved by crafting a customized estate plan with an experienced attorney who specializes in this field of law. With all of the other challenges in life, why leave your children with these problems?  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a simple Last Will and Testament from the internet, or a general practitioner, will solve these issues for your family.  We welcome the opportunity to hear your particular goals and work with you to put together a thoughtful estate plan for your family.

©Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. 35 Arnold Street, New Bedford, MA 02740, 336 South Street,   Hyannis MA 02601 and 45 Bristol Drive, Easton MA 02375.  This article is for illustration purposes only.  This handout does not constitute legal advice.  There is no attorney/client relationship created with Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. by this article.  DO NOT make decisions based upon information in this handout.  Every family is unique and legal advice can only be given after an individual consultation with an elder law attorney.  Any decisions made without proper legal advice may cause significant legal and financial problems.