Boston Will Lawyer
A will is the bedrock or first-step of any estate plan. It is simply a written document that has clear instructions on how your assets should be divided after your death. It often includes information such as how you are to be buried, and the appointment of an executor of your will.
A will is usually in typewritten form, written by an attorney and signed in front of several witnesses who are not mentioned in the will. Although it’s common for many people to think they only need need a will, it really is just the beginning of an effective estate plan. A will only protects your estate – after your death.
What happens if you are unconscious of incapacitated? How are decisions going to be made? And who is going to make those decisions for you?
In addition, a will only offers limited protection. Your estate will still have to face probate and estate taxes along with a number of other tools the state and federal government use to reduce the value of your estate. For these reasons, I do not do stand-alone wills unless they are accompanied by a Power of Attorney, a Health Care Proxy and a Health Care Directive. And in some cases, depending on your situation, I’ll even recommend a trust be set up as part of your estate plan to make sure your assets are protected – for your peace of mind and the well-being of your heirs.
As I said earlier, a will is the bedrock of your estate plan. I want my clients to have the highest level of protection the law allows.
I’ve seen first-hand what a family goes through when Uncle Sam and the state get to make the decisions regarding your care or distribution of assets. It’s not something your heirs will enjoy.
What is an Interrorem Clause?
“Interrorem” in Latin means to “put one in fear.” An “Interrorem Clause” can be inserted into a Will and basically states that if any person provided for in the Will files a Will contest, that person will lose any bequest or benefit provided for them in the Will. This is often helpful to stop someone from challenging the will, which could result in a large recovery if they are successful.
Another way to avoid a Will contest is to communicate with your heirs about the estate and probate proceedings. This can prevent jealousy and suspicions which can result in a Will contesting.
Are Video Wills Valid in Massachusetts?
No! In Massachusetts, a will must be written. This is a requirement that is specifically listed in the laws governing wills. If you wish to leave videotaped final words to your friends and loved ones, you must also complete a written will, unless you’re okay with the state distributing your belongings according to its preset default rules.
This doesn’t mean a videotape is useless. Your attorney might ask that you videotape your will signing, not to serve as a video will, but documentation of the event. There are two reasons why having this event videotaped can be helpful:
1) It shows you were of sound mind at the time you signed your will, a requirement for it to be valid, and;
2) It shows that you signed your will voluntarily, another requirement for it to be valid.
By videotaping the signing of your written will, you bolster its validity and make sure that your final wishes are carried out the way you expected.
If you are considering a will as part of your estate plan, give me a call at (617) 273-5110 to discuss your particular family matters and concerns.