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By Jason Carrozza

Hi Everyone,

Happy Wednesday!!! It’s so nice that the foliage has arrived and we get to enjoy the beautiful colors that make New England so wonderful.

Jason and I are both keeping busy. Next week, you’ll find us at Tri-County and Milford High School for our Estate Planning Basics Seminars. More information can be found here. In preparation for such, we’ve started compiling Common Myths of Estate Planning.

1. If someone dies in Massachusetts and also owns real estate in another state, probate “only” has to be filed in Massachusetts.

· Probate must be filed in every state where you own property. However, creating a trust is an effective way to avoid exactly this. If you own properties in multiple states, trust-based planning is the way to go.

2. Children under the age of 18 can receive property “outright” under a will, life insurance policy, or retirement account.

· Minors cannot inherit money. Period. Therefore, anything left to a minor will need to be overseen by a conservator. Conservators are an administrative burden that can cause a lot of headache and additional legal fees. Whenever there is a minor child involved our firm utilizes a trust so that conservatorship can be avoided and a successor trustee will be able to instantly provide for that child without endless and needless entanglement of the probate court.

3. Having a will in place avoids probate.

· A will is actually the document that starts the probate process. If you have a will your personal representative will still need to go through probate to gain access of your assets for your beneficiaries. The benefits of creating a will are that you can name your personal representative and you can decide who your property goes to. However, there is still court entanglement and you are stuck on the court calendar.

4. Because we are married, my spouse is “automatically” empowered to handle my financial and health care decisions on my behalf if I cannot do so for myself.

· Nobody is automatically entitled to make financial and health care decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated, even your spouse. A power of attorney allows somebody to make financial decisions for you in the event of your incapacity. A medical proxy allows somebody to make your medical decisions for you if you are incapable. These are all items we execute in our standard estate plan.

5. My will determines where “all” of my property goes.

· Property that has a beneficiary designation does not go through probate. A will stating that you give all of your property to Sally is not going to trump Jack as a listed beneficiary on a life insurance policy, etc. As a part of our process, we ensure that all of your beneficiary designations are in alignment with your overarching estate planning goals.

Now that you know these common estate planning misconceptions you can be sure to avoid them in the future! Be sure to contact us so you can be sure that your estate plan is meeting your overall goals and objective.

Until next time,

About the Author
Jason M. Carrozza is a partner and founder of Family Legal Partners, P.C., previously owning Carrozza Law Office, P.C., which focused on estate planning, probate administration, and business formation. He was recognized as a Massachusetts Rising Star by New England Super Lawyers and Boston Magazine in 2014, 2015, and 2016, an honor given to no more than 5% of attorneys in the state. Graduating magna cum laude from New England Law and ranked 3rd in his class, Jason completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Tampa. He gained experience in civil litigation, divorce, corporate, and insurance defense law firms before opening his practice in 2004. Jason is admitted to practice before the Massachusetts Courts, is a trained family law mediator, and a member of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation. He has volunteered for pro bono panels with Senior Partners For Justice, South Middlesex Legal Services, and the New Center for Legal Advocacy. Dedicated to his community, he has served in various leadership roles including vice president of the Bellingham Business Association and Master of Excelsior Lodge of Massachusetts Freemasons. He teaches Estate Planning Basics at the Tri County Continuing Adult Education program and speaks at estate planning seminars throughout the year. An avid baseball fan and history enthusiast, Jason enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with his family. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Katrina, and their children, Zachary and Madelyn.