Elder Law with Frank and Mary: An easy New Year’s Resolution: Review your estate plan


Happy New Year! Reviewing your estate plan is a simple “resolution” that shouldn’t take much time, and may actually save you time, aggravation, and money down the road. So start by pulling out your documents and asking yourself some questions:

  • HEALTH CARE PROXY. Is the agent you named still alive and healthy? Have you named an alternate in case there’s an emergency, and your primary agent is not around? Most important, have you talked to your agent about any current medical conditions you have, how you would like things to be handled, and how you want things to be treated if you become incapacitated?
  • DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY. All seniors should have one, so that someone you trust can handle your affairs if you become incapacitated. If you already have a POA, is the person you designated as your agent still the one you want? This document is inexpensive to prepare, but very expensive to be without in the case of incapacity.
  • ASSETS. Have your assets increased, or decreased? Remember, the initial Massachusetts tax rate on assets over $1 million is 40 percent. Many people now find themselves with assets worth over $1 million because their house value significantly increased. On the other hand, you may have used your assets, and now have less than $1 million. Either way, your estate plan may need to be adjusted accordingly.
  • HEALTH STATUS. As we age, our risk of needing additional care (and therefore, needing to qualify for MassHealth) increases, and so does the need to plan for that. If you anticipate that your health situation will change over the next year, you may want to restructure your assets now.

    These topics are unsettling for many, but hoping they go away or that they take care of themselves is not a plan. Don’t wait for things to go downhill; resolve to have a strategy in place that fits your needs and desires in the form of an estate plan. Then review that plan as situations change. For more information, visit Frank and Mary’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/elderlawfrankandmary. These programs also air on MVTV (Comcast 13), along with “Frank and Mary on Martha’s Vineyard,” where Sandie Corr-Dolby and I address common issues facing seniors and available resources. If you have any questions, please contact me at 508-860-1470, or abergeron@mirickoconnell.com.

Arthur P. Bergeron is an elder law attorney in the trusts and estates group at Mirick O’Connell.