Your New Year’s Legal Check-up

A new year is upon us, and with it comes a host of New Year’s resolutions. A survey found that the top goals for the new year included: 1) staying fit and healthy, 2) losing weight, 3) enjoying life to the fullest, 4) spending less, saving more, 5) spending more time with family and friends, and 6) getting organized. While each of those goals is worthwhile and important, don’t forget to add to your List of Resolutions a Legal Check-up!

Use the checklist below as a tool to determine whether you have good, foundational estate planning documents in place and whether you should consider meeting with an elder law attorney to discuss foundational planning, estate tax minimization, asset protection, creditor protection and/or special needs planning.   

Legal Check-up Checklist:

  • Durable Power of Attorney – a well drafted DPOA will allow a primary agent and alternate agent to make legal and financial decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself and may avoid the need for a court-appointed conservator.
  • Massachusetts Health Care Proxy – a well drafted HCP will allow a primary agent and alternate agent to make medical decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself and may avoid the need for a court-appointed guardian.
  • HIPAA Release Authorization – gives permission for your protected medical information to be shared with named individuals.
  • Advance Directive (Living Will) – this directive instructs health care providers to administer, withhold, or withdraw specified medical treatments and is to be used as a guide for those who make decisions on your behalf when you are no longer capable of expressing your wishes for yourself.
  • Last Will and Testament – tells the court which individuals (or charities) are to receive your property and possessions on your death and identifies to the court who you have named as the primary and alternate personal representative (formerly executor/executrix) of your estate.
  • Do you have an estate worth more than $1,000,000, including real estate, investment accounts, retirement accounts, etc.?
  • Do you have young children or a child or grandchild with special needs?
  • Do you have spendthrift children or grandchildren?
  • Are you concerned about protecting your assets against the cost of future long-term care needs?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, if you don’t have one or more of the documents listed above, or if you want to have your documents/plan reviewed to make certain that it will work as needed when the time comes, we invite you to contact our office to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys to gain clarity on your plan and learn recommendations to best accomplish your objectives. If interested, please contact our office at 508-994-5200. 

Erin L. Nunes
Written by Attorney Erin L. Nunes, Esq.

  ©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.