Where is your will?

In the “old days” lawyers used to keep their clients’ Last Wills in their offices. Lawyers tended to stay in their practices for decades, and people didn’t move as often as they do now. It also made it so that the client’s heirs had to go back to that attorney when the client passed away, making it likely that the client would hire the firm to probate the estate.

The problem that a lot of my clients are running into now is that the law firm that drafted their wills back in the 70′s or 80′s are closed or merged or the attorney has retired or passed away.  This leaves the client on a hunt for their original estate planning documents. Sometimes we call the original firm, then we get sent over to the firm where the attorney is now, at which point we get sent back to the original firm because the attorney didn’t take their documents with them. If we are lucky, they still have the documents and can send them to my clients. If we are unlucky, we never find out where the original documents are and have to try to make due with photocopies.

If you or your parents have left the original, signed versions of your estate planning documents with the attorney who drafted them, consider calling to make sure that they still have the documents and that they are still in practice.  You may also want to request that they send the documents to you so that you always know where they are. Like most things, it is better to do this before you need to since it can often take some time. In addition, if the original documents cannot be located you may still have the opportunity to draft new ones.

 

The Top 5 Mistakes Clients Like Mine Make

There are many mistakes people can make when planning for their future. Usually the biggest one is not planning. Most of the time, by the time they get to me, we can make sure to remedy these mistakes. 1. Not talking to their families. Leaving a house to multiple children and hoping they will “workContinue Reading

What I’ve Been Up To

When I tell people what I do in my law practice, it is usually something like “I help people with wills and dealing with the process of transferring property after someone passes away.” Despite all the instruction to have an elevator speech, I do not have a snappy one liner that sums up all IContinue Reading

Action Item: Share Some Information This Week

What is a quick action you can take this week to make your and your family’s life easier in the event of an emergency? Share some information! This can be as little as telling someone who your attorney, accountant and financial advisor are so they can contact them if they need to help you. OrContinue Reading

Book Review: “Moving Out A Family Guide to Residential Planning…”

Moving Out – A Family Guide to Residential Planning for Adults with Disabilities is a wonderful resource for families exploring living options for their loved ones. Written by Dafna Krouk-Gordon, the founder and president of TILL, Inc., and special needs attorney Barbara Jackins, the book is a wealth of information in an easily understandable format.Continue Reading

Food, Feelings and End of Life Wishes

The New York Times has a recent article about Food and the Dying Patient. It talks about a patient with dementia who could no longer swallow. When they tried to feed her she aspirated the food into her lungs which was causing pneumonia. The doctors turned to the family to decide whether they wanted aContinue Reading

Do You Need To Update Your Living Will?

A living will, also called an advance health care directive, is a place to lay out your wishes for medical care and treatment at the end of your life. The hope is that your appointed agents will make sure these wishes are carried out. You can specify things such as whether or not you wantContinue Reading

Limitations to Guardianships & Conservatorships

As part of the changes to the guardianship and conservatorship process in Massachusetts a few years ago, the courts have been moving away from full guardianship and conservatorship and towards limited ones. The idea is to protect the person in need, while still allowing them to retain rights as appropriate.  On the forms that areContinue Reading

“Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?”

My favorite New Yorker cartoonist wrote/drew a memoir of caring her for aging parents called “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” It outlines their decline as their minds and bodies start to go. She talks about how no one wanted to talk about “the future” but still they had to keep walking towards itContinue Reading

Including Charities In Your Estate Plan

Many of my clients include charities that are important to them in their wills. The New York Times has a recent article about how other are including charities in their estate plan as well. “This situation is more and more prevalent,” agrees Kevin Pickett, executive director of development at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.Continue Reading