What is Included in a Typical Revocable Trust Estate Plan?
Pourover Will – This is a will that leaves everything to your trust. Theoretically, if you properly fund (put all of your assets into) the trust, there should be no need for a will. However, there are certain circumstances under which it is possible for you to die with assets that are still in your name personally. Through this type of will, you would leave everything in such a class of property (“probate assets”) to your trust, because if this property had been in the trust, it would have been distributed as per the terms of the trust anyway. Your will has a personal representative (formerly referred to as executor) to manage the affairs of the probate estate.
Durable Power of Attorney – a power of attorney empowers a certain individual whom you appoint to act on your behalf in dealing with your affairs should you become unable to do so. In its raw form, a power of attorney is only good so long as the person who granted it is able to revoke it. However, a Durable Power of Attorney refers to the fact that the power granted to that person survives your incapacity. Thus, should you become disabled, your attorney-in-fact could still act on your behalf.
Health Care Proxy – This is a document that allows a certain individual to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so. That person is called your Health Care Agent.
Living Will – This is a directive to medical professionals letting them know of your wish for them not to take any extraordinary measures should your physical circumstances are such that there is no hope for recovery.
Revocable Trust – This document creates an entity, known as a trust that allows for you to control and receive the benefit of all of your property, real and personal, during your lifetime. Assuming you are the trustee of your trust and you are also the beneficiary of your revocable trust, once you have passed away, the trust instrument will provide for an alternate trustee as well as alternate beneficiaries, all people whom you would have chosen in advance of creating the trust. When making these decisions, you should keep in mind that once you have made a decision as to the control over and distribution of your assets after death, these decisions are not carved in stone. You may make changes to your revocable trust as often as desired, with relative ease as compared to changing a will, which is by nature a much more complicated process.
Deed – This is the instrument we would create for the purpose of transferring your real property (your home or other real estate) from your name individually to your name as trustee of your revocable trust. It would be recorded at the appropriate Registry of Deeds along with the trustee certificate and declaration of homestead, explained below.
Bill of Sale – Like a deed, this document transfers your personal property (any property that you have that is not permanently attached to the land) into the trust. This means that after your death, the trustee would be in charge of making distributions to your alternate beneficiaries or otherwise disposing of this property, all according to the terms of the trust instrument.
Trustee Declaration of Homestead – Massachusetts law now allows trustees to declare homestead on behalf of the beneficiaries of a trust. In general, Homestead protection provides for $500,00.00 worth of equity protection from most (almost all) creditors. If you are over 62 years of age, you would be entitled to declare what is known as an elderly declaration of homestead, which gives you $1,000,000.00 worth of homestead protection. For more information, please see our Homestead Blog.
Personal Property Memorandum – In addition to the above, you may want us to prepare a document that will assist your trustee and/or personal representative in the distribution of your personal property after death. We provide this document to you in MS Word format so that you may change it, on your own, from time to time. It does not require being notarized, but should always be witnessed by a disinterested third-party.
Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorneys
Conveniently located on the South Shore in Hanover and Quincy, MA serving Boston and Eastern Massachusetts