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Estate Planning and Probate

Western Massachusetts Estate Planning Lawyers

At the Springfield law firm of Ross & Ross, our attorneys advise individuals, families and small business owners about wills and trusts, life care planning issues and solutions to a wide range of specific estate planning problems ranging from the care of adult children with special needs to protecting your eligibility for Medicaid. We also provide estate administration services in probate court and probate litigation. For additional information about the range of our estate planning and probate administration practice, please contact an attorney at our AV-rated* law firm.

Basic Estate Planning. We help people define and express their intentions for the eventual transfer of assets to heirs and beneficiaries through careful drafting and witnessing of a last will and testament. While thinking about your will, it is also highly useful to devote some thought to planning for a period of incapacity or a final illness. A durable financial power of attorney will designate a trusted person to manage your finances according to your preferences in the event that you are not able to express them clearly. A health care proxy will name a trusted person to make medical treatment or life support decisions in your place if you become unable to do so yourself. These instruments can spare your family a great deal of indecision and anguish.

Trusts. For families with particular estate planning objectives or issues, the drafting and funding of a trust can meet your goals. Different trusts address different circumstances — some function to bypass the probate process after death, some protect your eligibility for Medicaid, some provide for the care of a younger relative who will never be able to assume the full responsibilities of adulthood and some convert assets taxable upon death into assets exempt from taxation. Certain trusts address multiple goals simultaneously. For example, a charitable remainder trust will allow you to enjoy the income from an asset during your lifetime while later providing for a favorite charity and reducing your estate's exposure to taxes. Our lawyers can give you clear guidance about the different trust options that can best fit your situation. We can also review and update an existing estate plan to track new developments in the law or changes in your family or financial circumstances.

Estate Administration. We represent executors, administrators and personal representatives responsible for the administration of a decedent's estate in probate court. This involves notifying heirs and creditors, making an inventory of the estate's assets, resolving claims against the estate, preparing tax returns and distributing assets to beneficiaries or heirs. Our experience with Massachusetts probate procedures can help assure a smooth probate of the will.

Probate Litigation. Sometimes the terms of a will or mistakes in the transfer of assets into a trust result in disagreements between heirs, beneficiaries, trustees, or executors. Occasionally these disputes will need to be resolved in probate court. We can represent your interests in litigation involving such issues as undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity, disputes between the estate and a trust as to ownership of certain assets, or breach of fiduciary duty on the part of a trustee or personal representative.

For additional information about our ability to meet your need for an effective estate plan or for efficient probate administration, please contact a Springfield trusts and estates lawyer at Ross & Ross.

* CV, BV, and AV are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties, Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards, and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell Ratings evaluate two categories--legal ability and general ethical standards.