In this edition of the Newsletter, we examine what we call the Star Estate Plan. We call it the Star Plan, because it's composed of five points. We cover each point below, explaining the significance of each to you.
- HEALTH CARE PROXY
This instrument designates a trusted friend, family member or spouse(called the Health Care Agent) to make health care and treatment decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make these decisions for yourself. Decisions of your Agent are final, and supersede others'. The Health Care Proxy is formally recognized in Massachusetts, which means your selection of a health care agent is absolutely binding.
- LIVING WILL
This instrument is your statement that in the event that you are unlikely to recover from an extreme physical or mental disability, you do not wish to be kept alive by "artificial means". When used in conjunction with a Health Care Proxy, a Living Will serves as a directive to your Health Care Agent. You should read your Living Will, understand it, and discuss it carefully with your Health Care Agent.
- DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY
There are essentially two types of decisions someone may have to make for you when you can't make decisions for yourself: those relating to health care and those related to finances. The Health Care Proxy designates an individual to make health care decisions for you. The Durable Power of Attorney, however, is an instrument that allows your designate to manage all aspects of your financial affairs.
- HOMESTEAD DECLARATION
Homestead is a type of protection for your residence, in the form of a document called a “Declaration of Estate of Homestead.” We record the instrument at the Registry of Deeds in the county where the property is located. It allows homeowners in Massachusetts to protect their property up to five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) of the value per residence, per family.
- LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
Now usually known as the "Last Will", this is the instrument which, upon your death, specifies how your estate will be distributed. A Last Will also permits you to make other important decisions, such as choosing a guardian for your minor children, and the individual who will be responsible for insuring that the provisions of your Last Will are honored. Even the preparation of a "simple" Last Will requires that you provide a considerable amount of information about your assets and about those who will be your beneficiaries.
We'd be pleased to discuss the Star Plan with you in detail.
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