By Elizabeth A. Caruso, Esq.

Legal Legacy Planning, LLC

It’s that time of year again – time to start making resolutions about how you are going to improve your life in 2024. Everyone takes a different approach to this, from financial well-being, physical well-being, mental health, etc. One year, I vowed to make a realistic New Year’s resolution, so I resolved to eat more bacon!

Instead of busting myths this month, I would like to present to you a few reasons as to why you want to make creating an estate plan your 2024 New Year’s resolution.

1. Having a comprehensive estate plan means that your wishes will be honored while you are still alive. To be crass, dying is easy; it’s living incapacitated that is extremely hard and requires an estate plan. Without a health care proxy and power of attorney, two building blocks of an estate plan, there is no guarantee that your wishes will be honored while you are incapacitated because no one is appointed to make those decisions for you. You can proactively appoint someone who will advocate for you and ensure your wishes are followed. 

2. Having an estate plan means that your wishes will be followed after you pass away. If you do not leave a last will and testament or a trust to dictate how you want your assets divided at death, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a plan for you, and you may not like it. If you want to distribute to your children unevenly, give to charity, give to friends and not just family, or any number of other nonconventional distributions, then having a written estate plan is vital to making sure your wishes are honored. Without writing down your wishes, no one will know how you want your estate to be distributed.

3. Having an estate plan saves you money. Creating an estate plan can eliminate a lot of the need for court interference both during incapacity and after death. Estate plans, at least at our firm, are charged on a flat-fee basis based on the scope of the estate plan. Legal work involving the probate court is instead charged on an hourly basis, because dealing with the court can be unpredictable. Often the price that I quote for a flat fee for drafting an estate plan becomes the initial retainer that I request for probate court work, emphasis on the initial retainer.

Reach out to an elder law attorney to make 2024 your year to create an estate plan.

About the Author: Elizabeth A. Caruso, Esq. is an attorney at Legacy Legal Planning, LLC, in Norwell. She has been practicing estate planning, probate, and elder law on the South Shore for more than a decade. If this article has sparked questions for you, please feel free to reach out via phone 781-971-5900 or email to schedule a time to discuss your unique situation.