Many families ask me why they even need an estate plan. Won’t their spouse simply receive all of their assets and be able to make all decisions? What these families do not realize is that every person has an estate plan – but if they have not created one of their own, they have the one created for them by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Our great state has some strengths and some weaknesses, but I’m pretty sure I do not want it creating an estate plan for my family!
As the law currently stands, without a will, a surviving spouse does not automatically receive all assets when their spouse dies. In fact, they may end up owning assets jointly with their children or, if there are not any children, with their in-laws. No estate planning documents also mean a lack of direction about fiduciaries – who should be in control of the estate, the children, health care decisions, etc. It also means that assets passed along are available to the creditors of the people who receive the assets, and may be subject to the oversight of the Probate Courts for years to come.
Attorney Jennifer Taddeo is an estate planning lawyer in Franklin, Massachusetts. She concentrates her practice in Massachusetts estate planning and probate and trust administration. She works with clients to develop and implement estate plans that reflect both their financial and personal goals. If you have questions regarding estate planning, please contact Attorney Jennifer Taddeo.