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Massachusetts Estate Planning

The estate planning field of Massachusetts law encompasses more than just wills and inheritance. Estate planning’s main concern is what are your needs and wishes when you’re unable to speak for yourself? It addresses both your health care needs and your family’s welfare in the event of your medical incapacitation and death.

There are plenty of tools to help you with estate planning in Massachusetts. Whether you live in Worcester, Boston or Lowell, you have access to legal estate planning resources like wills, living trusts, advance directives and more. Using LawInfo’s Massachusetts estate planning articles, you can learn about the legal ins and outs of securing your family’s future and connect with a qualified local attorney.

Massachusetts Wills

If you were to die without a will, your estate would be distributed to your family members according to Massachusetts’s intestacy laws. This means that you and the people who you’d want to benefit from your estate would have no say on how your estate is distributed. To avoid causing your family unnecessary stress, you can create a will to ensure that your wishes for your estate are carried out.

Besides granting you the ability to name specific beneficiaries of your estate, a will also allows you to designate a guardian for your minor children and a personal representative (an “executor”) who will execute your will during the probate process.

Massachusetts Health Care Proxies

In many states, you can make your health care wishes known through a living will in the event of becoming incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions. However, Massachusetts does not have any laws concerning living wills. Though you may create a living will, Massachusetts health care providers are not legally bound to follow your wishes.

You can designate a health care proxy who can make health care decisions for you in these situations. Designating a proxy is similar to granting a trusted agent the durable health care power of attorney as used in other states. You may even request your proxy to follow your wishes in a living will. Health care providers are legally obligated to comply with a proxy’s decisions.

Massachusetts Estate Tax

Massachusetts is one of a handful of states that levies an estate tax in addition to the federal estate tax. The estate tax is levied for the privilege of transferring property after death within the state. It’s paid by your (the testate/intestate, depending on if you have a will) estate’s representative after your death.

The estate tax is calculated using a progressive tax bracket system that increases your tax rate based on your estate’s adjusted taxable value. Your total estate tax amount is a combination of a flat dollar credit and a percentage of the excess of your estate’s taxable value over the minimum value for your bracket.

Let’s calculate the estate tax for an estate with an adjusted taxable value of $5,680,900. This estate qualifies for the $5,040,000 to $6,040,000 bracket, which has a flat credit of $402,800. To calculate your tax:

  • Subtract $5,680,900 from $5,040,000 to get $640,900.
  • Multiply $640,900 by the bracket’s excess percentage rate of 12 percent (0.12) to get $76,908.
  • Add $76,908 to the flat credit of $402,800 to get your total estate tax of $479,708.
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