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Massachusetts Estate Planning Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Banking, Estate Planning and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: Can a housebound bank account holder let me log in on their behalf to initiate transfers?

My father died with a bank account with the name of an ex-fiancee still on it as a joint holder. She hasn't ever used the account as far as I can tell. She (and her current husband) want the money in the account to go to myself and my sister. Unfortunately she doesn't have an online login... Read more »

Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa answered on Aug 6, 2020

Assuming your father was a Massachusetts resident for the comments: Are you the Personal Representative of your father's estate? If so, you need to contact the bank involved and provide them with your Letter of Authority and Federal Taxpayer ID for the estate and some form of authorization by... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Massachusetts on
Q: If my husband acquires material property from a parent, can he now put those items in a trust without naming me in it?

I am afraid my husband will leave me out of his trust due to the acquisition of property he and his sister just inherited from his father due to his death.

Joanne Belasco
Joanne Belasco answered on Aug 3, 2020

A spouse can create a trust for him or herself without including the other spouse in it as long as that property belongs only to that person. If a husband inherits property he may create his own trust unless there was a stipulation with the inheritance that he had to include his wife as a... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: My mom passed on 1-8-20. She left a detailed will including myself, her only daughter, my 3 children and their 5 kids.

It's over 40 pages of legal writing I do not understand and haven't heard a word from either her husband my stepfather, or the trustee The woman who is co trustee, and drew up the will. It's a wealthy will. I need to know what my rights are and what were entitled to if anything. Can... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on May 4, 2020

It is not possible to tell you what your rights are under the will without reviewing the will. Take the will to a probate attorney in your area for review and advice. Most likely a probate (court) case will need to be commenced to administer the terms of the will.

2 Answers | Asked in Probate and Estate Planning for Massachusetts on
Q: My brother died during the recent endemic.His ex wife did not want me speaking to him while he was hospitalized.

She called to say she is his sole heir.

How do I find out if this is legit?

He lived in CT.

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Apr 22, 2020

If your brother did not have a will, then her statement is not legitimate. If your brother had a will made after he divorced her, then it is theoretically possible (but in my experience not likely).

It sounds like you are the next of kin. You can hire a probate attorney to open a...
Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Massachusetts on
Q: Can a beneficiary of a trust fund become the trustee if the current trustee resigns or is in breach of trust?
Timothy E. Angley
Timothy E. Angley answered on Mar 2, 2020

A beneficiary can become the Trustee if the Trust allows for such an occurrence. One would want to have a new Beneficiary of the Trust and/or a new Trustee appointed as soon as possible because you don't want the Trust to have the same Trustee and Beneficiary if it can be avoided.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Massachusetts on
Q: How do I ensure that my young child will receive my assets upon death? I have named her as beneficiary on all accounts

I'm a single parent, the father is inconsistently involved and I unfortunately cannot trust him. I would prefer not to grant access to monetary accounts, at least not until I pass away. I'm wondering if I can just name a person to oversee these accounts in my will until my child is of age... Read more »

Joanne Belasco
Joanne Belasco answered on Mar 2, 2020

I can't answer your specific question because we don't have an attorney-client relationship. Generally speaking, I suggest that someone who has children and is worried about any kind of access to the money should consider a trust as a way to have better control over how the money is spent... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Massachusetts on
Q: I need to claim a retirement plan in mass but my mom lived in florida when she passed how do I do this

the retirement plan is in mass and she passed away in florida in a nursing home I am the only remaining family member. mass told me to file a small estate affidavit I am not sure how to go about any of this

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Dec 11, 2019

If you are the named death beneficiary of the retirement plan, then all you need to do is provide a death certificate to the plan administrator. If you don't know if you are the named death beneficiary, provide a copy of the death certificate to the plan administrator anyway. That will get... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Massachusetts on
Q: Parents gave 2nd home to son. Only in his name for 2yrs now but lived there for over 10. Can he sell it?

His parents are in their late 70s and they were concerned that there was a five-year hold due to Medicaid if they ever went to a nursing home. But his parents still live in their 1st home.

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Dec 4, 2019

He can sell it, legally, because it is his. However, a reason for waiting 5 years would be to preserve the ability to maybe cure the gift in case the parents need to apply for Medicaid within that 5 year period. In some states the gift penalty can be avoided by gifting the property back, in this... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Health Care Law for Massachusetts on
Q: What is a special needs trust?

I am legally blind and my husband needs to go into a nursing home due to a stroke. We own our house, Is there any way we can use the equity to pay nursing home costs. I am 86; he is 87

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Nov 13, 2019

You REALLY should schedule a consultation with an elder law attorney. You might be eligible to have the government pay for his nursing home costs WITHOUT having to sell the house.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: Aunt died with assets not transferred to living trust

How do I probate some stock certificates we came across in my aunt's name that she never transferred to her trust. Since the value is about $20k can I file a voluntary administration probate since that's all that is left to deal with? The rest of her assets were covered in the living... Read more »

Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa answered on Nov 8, 2019

Yes, a Voluntary Statement should suffice. There is notice to the estate recovery unit and the form seeks asset information and whether there is a will, etc. You will also need a death certificate for filing and the filing fee.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Massachusetts on
Q: I need to open an account for my dads estate what do I file in court a informal or formal?
Timothy E. Angley
Timothy E. Angley answered on Nov 7, 2019

Hi,

Formal or Informal can depend on a few different factors. Did your father leave a Will? Did the Will allow an executor to sell real estate (if there is any) and did your father reside in Massachusetts or did he reside elsewhere? I often advise toward Formal because that eliminates the...
Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: my sister and I are 50/50 heirs what happens if we both want the same asset listed in the will?

she is the executor and I requested to purchase my dads car which is part of the estate but she advised she was taking it - do I have any claim on it?

Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa answered on Nov 5, 2019

The Personal Representative has an obligation to maximize the estate and not to self-deal, so she would need to demonstrate that whatever commission for her work as Personal Representative is worth the equivalent of half of the fair market value of the vehicle. If this is an expensive vehicle this... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: Ex-husband died, we had 2 kids. His live in girlfriend put all of his assets in storage & claiming they were hers.

We all live in MA, we had twin daughters who are 17 & will be 18 in Feb. He had no children with his girlfriend who lived with him. He definitely had less than $25,000 worth of assets & no will. He had a camper/rv that I was told she transferred the title to herself after his death &... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Oct 13, 2019

You really need to hire an attorney to help you with this. Even if he had a will that left everything to the girlfriend, you at least can make a claim for the unpaid child support. If he did not have a will then most likely his children should get everything.

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: Is the executor required to notify beneficiaries of what is happening with the estate?

My father passed away 3/2018, and the executor of my dad's estate is my estranged sister. So far, instead of contacting her, I have called the law office for the case to get updates. But for several months now, it appears that my sister has instructed them to not even answer the phone when I... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Oct 9, 2019

Hire a local probate attorney to look at the file for you and bring you up to date. The attorney can also file for you a request to receive notice of proceedings.

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Tax Law for Massachusetts on
Q: Can remainderman living in home 5 years as a care giver get the capital gains exemption if house is sold prior to death

I am a remainderman on my mom's life estate. She sold the house to my brother and I 17 years ago for $1 and kept a life estate. I have lived here for 5 years as her caregiver until she went into a nursing home. We have to sell the house prior to her passing because we can't keep it.... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Sep 24, 2019

Yes, the Section 121 capital gains exclusion applies to remainder interests. Here is an excerpt from that statute:

(8) Sales of remainder interests For purposes of this section—

(A) In general

At the election of the taxpayer, this section shall not fail to apply to...
Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Elder Law, Estate Planning and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: My parents reside in Tennessee and my father passed away a few months ago. My mom started to work with a lawyer...

I live in the Northeast and have struggled to ensure that she is handling financial matters without issue. We had tremendous difficulty understanding what my father had set up financially. Took a while to find the will also. She started working with a lawyer to update her will that had not been... Read more »

Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa answered on Sep 18, 2019

Do you have agency under the power of attorney? - if so then you can act on her behalf id you have possession of same. Otherwise you will need a Tennessee attorney who specializes in conservatorships to have yourself appointed as such or at least to advise you on what your options are.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Family Law and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: Thank you for this service. I am one of 3 beneficiaries mentioned in an irrevocable trust. The others are "trustees".
Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa answered on Aug 27, 2019

Hello, Yes, I would need to review the instrument and are you indicating that you believe self-dealing is occurring with the co-trustee?

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Massachusetts on
Q: My mother is in assisted living and she has an annuity that she has been using to pay for the assisted living.

Is there a way to protect the money that remains in her annuity?

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Aug 1, 2019

It is impossible tip answer your question without reviewing the annuity contract but very likely on her death the remainder will have to be used to reimburse Medicaid.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Family Law and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: I live in MA, my father who presided in AZ passed away a few weeks ago

My father was married to a woman who he shared no children and my sister and I were a previous marriage. He left no will. How do My sister and I protect our inheritance rights? The wife was hesitant to give us a photo album from our childhood never mind our inheritance. Is there some sort of way to... Read more »

Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa answered on Jul 12, 2019

This is an Arizona case if your father resided there and you should therefore contact a Probate attorney in that area.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Massachusetts on
Q: As executor, can I put money I have inherited from a retirement account/insurance policy of the deceased to pay debt?

Money is owed to family member for having paid bills but was not paid back prior to the death of the person who owed the money. There is proof this money is owed. There is not enough cash in the estate to pay back the money.

Michael Monteforte
Michael Monteforte answered on Jul 8, 2019

I think that a little more info is needed here, but wanted to give you some basics. First, the estate has to pay valid claims so long as there is money to do so. BUT, if you inherited funds from the deceased and those funds were not part of the estate (in other words, you were named as a... Read more »

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