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Wills / Trusts / Estate Planning

Elder Law


Wills / Trusts / Estate Planning

Do I need a lawyer to draft up a will or trust?
The laws governing wills and trust are complex and the consequences for failing to properly draft and execute a will or trust can be devastating. While a lawyer is not needed to draft a will or trust in Massachusetts, it is highly recommended that you seek legal counsel.

What will happen if I die without a will?
If you die in Massachusetts without a will, your are then determined by the commonwealth that you have died "intestate." That means your Massachusetts assets will be distributed according to the Massachusetts laws of intestacy, only after your debts and expenses have been paid.

Do I need a Health Care Proxy?
In certain situations, you may be asked to sign a health care proxy before undergoing medical treatment or surgery, for example. A person is under no legal obligation to have a health care proxy. Although health care proxies are highly recommended.

Do I have to pay taxes on money I have inherited?
The tax liability for inherited assets depends on the nature of the asset and the manner in which it inherited. It is highly recommended that you seek counsel from an estate tax attorney to determine any inheritance tax liability.

Elder Law

If I want to stay in my home, do I have other options besides a nursing home?
Yes. There are private companies that provide in-home care as an alternative to a nursing home.

Do I need an attorney to assist me with Medicaid planning?
The federal and state laws governing Medicaid eligibility are complex and subject to frequent changes. While you are not required to hire an attorney to assist you with Medicaid planning, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney before you engage in any Medicaid planning.

Do I surrender any rights when I execute a power of attorney?
Powers of attorney can be customized to meet the specific needs of each situation. Typically, powers of attorney are used to grant other people the right to access and use your personal assets. In these situations, you do lose the right to have complete control over your assets. 

What does power of attorney mean?
A power of attorney is a written document in which one person (the principal) grants specific powers to another person (the agent). For estate planning purposes, power of attorneys are typically used to give the agent power to manage the principal's assets and funds and have access to principal's bank and investment accounts.

Click here to view the MBA's 2021 Elder Law Guide for additional information on elder law. Click here for a National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys brochure, which discusses why nursing home residents and their family should say "no" to arbitration.


What is the difference between guardianship and conservatorship?
In Massachusetts, a guardianship typically refers to a proceeding in which a court gives one person (the guardian) power to make all decisions concerning the health and well-being of an incapacitated person or minor. A conservatorship refers to a proceeding in which a court gives one person (the conservator) the authority to manage an incapacitated person's or minor's assets and funds.

*These answers do not constitute legal advice and are written for general information purposes only. Individuals should consult with a lawyer for specific legal advice.

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