West Barnstable, MA
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Estate Planning

Estate Planning

While nobody wants to think about death or disability, establishing an estate plan is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Proper estate planning not only puts you in charge of your future, it can also spare your loved ones the expense, delay, and frustration associated with managing your affairs if you become disabled and after you are gone.

Estate planning is not done for you, it is done with you. Our approach is simple – you teach us about your family, we teach you about the law, and together we create an estate plan that really works. A plan that will be tailored to meet the unique circumstances, challenges, and opportunities present in your life and the lives of your loved ones.

We routinely represent clients with their estate planning needs including the creation of Wills and Trusts, the special issues involved in planning for young children, incapacity planning including Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Proxies, and Authorization for Release of Protected Health Information.

By listening to our clients, we create highly personalized plans that reflect their unique situations. Our goal is to give you peace of mind.

Wills and Trusts

Most people know about Wills and their basic purpose – to ensure that one’s hard earned assets go to the right devisees when an individual passes away. However, wills can be used for a lot more than simply dictating who gets a person’s antique grandfather’s clock. Here’s a list of some of the very valuable things a Will can do:

List who gets what. The most common purpose for a Will is to name which individual, or group of individuals, organizations or charities, will receive particular property belonging to a person when he or she passes away.

Name guardians for children. Typically, a Will is a legal document that states who should raise a person’s children if something happens to the parent. The Will also usually contains at least one alternate in the event the first choice cannot serve.

Establish trusts. In many cases, a person may not want a child or loved one to receive all of their inheritance at once. Sometimes a person may want a devisee to have use of property for a while (i.e. lifetime), and then for the remaining property to pass on to others. In that situation, an individual may choose to use a trust to ensure the plan is carried out. A trust holds property for someone else’s benefit. Trusts are commonly established for beneficiaries (i.e. children) in order to protect the assets for their use until they reach a certain age or until the remaining assets are distributed to successive beneficiaries (i.e. grandchildren). Trusts are also commonly used in second marriage situations – a person may want to allow a spouse to have access to certain property while the spouse is living, but for the property to ultimately pass to the decedent’s children or grandchildren. Trusts can help accomplish that goal.

Name a personal representative and trustee. A Will states who will be the personal representative of an estate. This is the person who will carry out a deceased individual’s wishes shown in the Will. Wills can also name the trustee of any trusts established in the Will. This person will carry out the instructions of the trust. The Will also usually contains at least one alternate in the event the first choice cannot serve.

While Wills can serve as powerful estate planning tools, they are only effective if they are properly drafted to suit the needs of each individual. We will review options with you and establish a Will in a manner that ensures your wishes will be honored.

Durable Power of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document that enables the grantor (principal) to designate a trusted person or persons called the agent or attorney-in-fact to act on behalf of the principal, even in the event the individual becomes disabled or incapacitated. Therefore, "durable" power of attorney stays valid even if the principal is not able to handle his or her affairs (incapacitated). If the grantor does not specify that the power of attorney is to be durable, it will automatically end when the principal becomes incapacitated.

When someone considers creating a Durable Power of Attorney, it is important to choose the right agent. The agent should be a person that the principal trusts and who will not take advantage of the principal when she or he is incapacitated. The agent is often a family member or a friend of the principal.

A Durable Power of Attorney has certain advantages. Before it, the only way to take care of the affairs of an incapacitated person was to appoint a guardian or conservator. Appointing a guardian/conservator is a complex and costly court proceeding. A Durable Power of Attorney, on the other hand, is a very easy and inexpensive procedure that does not require a judicial proceeding. A Durable Power of Attorney can be revoked or revised at any time as long as the principal is competent to make such a decision. If the principal is not competent, a Durable Power of Attorney continues until the principal dies.

Health Care Proxy

If you are unable to make health care decisions, you can designate someone you trust to make those decisions for you. Making decisions about the health care to be provided to another person can be difficult for some people. It is a good idea to appoint an alternate in the event the person you name as your primary agent is unwilling, unable or unavailable to carry out his or her duties under the medical power of attorney.

A physician or other medical professional will make the decision about your ability to give instructions about the medical treatment and care you will or will not receive. If it is determined that you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions on your own, the person you appointed as your agent in your Health Care Proxy will make the decisions. Health care professionals and medical facilities, such as hospitals, are obligated by state law to comply with the decisions made by a person named in a validly prepared and signed Health Care Proxy.

Authorization for Release of Protected Health Information (HIPPA)

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA, was created in 1996 by the US Congress to protect the privacy of your health information. The act prohibits your health care providers from releasing your health care information unless you have provided your health care provider with a HIPAA release form.

Unless you have provided a signed release form, your health care providers are prohibited from discussing any aspect of your medical information with anyone who is not directly involved in your care.

The person(s) you name as agents in your HIPPA Release are typically the same as your name in your Health Care Proxy.

By providing extraordinary personal service, Thomas McNulty Jr, PC partners with clients to develop strategic responses to legal and business-related problems.

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1170 Main Street , West Barnstable, MA 02668
| Phone: 774.330.3930

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