Category: Wills & Trusts – the Basics

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Estate Planning and Tax Season Go Hand-in-Hand

Add Estate Planning To Your List of Resolutions This Year

Wills and Trust Planner Dartmouth MassachusettsThe New Year means tax season is beginning. Here in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, like every other part of the country, we begin collecting our tax forms and looking for all possible deductions. Estate planning goes hand-in-hand with tax season as you’ll see in a moment.

The New Year also is a time for making resolutions.  I usually resolve each year to try and live a healthier lifestyle. I promise myself I’ll get around to losing that extra 10 pounds. My wife and I agree to save a little extra each week for retirement.

While many people focus on getting organized for the New Year, estate planning is an equally important personal finance goal that should make every adult’s “to-do list.”

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“Estate Planning” Isn’t Just for the Rich and Famous. It’s for Everyone.

Massachusetts Estate Planning

Massachusetts Estate Planning Isn’t Just for the Rich and Famous

My wife, Nancy, and I were at a favorite ‘watering hole’ here in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, recently and we started a conversation with some great people sitting next to us. Naturally, the topic of what we all did for a living came up. When I said that I was an “estate planning” lawyer and that I prepared wills and trusts for people, they said, “yeah, we really need to do our wills, but we keep putting it off.”  They then asked, though, “isn’t estate planning just for really rich  people?”

In response, I told them that they weren’t alone by putting off doing their wills. According to an April 2014 Forbes article, 62% of Americans between the ages of 45 to 54 hadn’t drafted their wills. So, a majority of us clearly haven’t done our plans.

Then I answered their question and said, “no, estate planning isn’t just for the rich and famous, it’s for just about everyone.”

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5 Massachusetts Estate Planning Dos and Don’ts

Attorney Andrew Garcia of The Living Together Law Center offers 5 quick do’s and don’ts when it comes to your Massachusetts estate planing.

Don’t name your minor kids as beneficiaries on your insurance policy.

If something happens to you before they turn eighteen then a court is going to have to appoint someone to manage the money for them, and even worse when they do turn eighteen, they have instant access to everything you have left.

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Utah Man’s Self-Penned Obituary: Lessons We Can Learn


Patterson’s Obit

An obituary written by a 59 year old Utah man who died of throat cancer has gone viral.  Apparently in his obit, Val Patterson, spoke sweetly of a well-lived life and expressed his undying love for his wife who watched and cared for him as his cancer drained him.  But, Patterson also used his obit to expose his biting humor and to reveal some little known secrets about himself according to reporter A.J. Willingham of (see Willingham’s full story here).

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The Importance of the “Story” Behind Life’s “Little Treasures”

Remove the story and it's just a toolbox.

One of the purposes of writing your will or a living trust is to direct how your property is passed on and to whom. What I’ve found over the years, though, is that when people work with lawyers or even with online will writing services, there is a tendency to just focus on how their “big ticket” items of property will be passed on. For example, they’ll decide how their house, their life insurance policies or their financial investments will be divided amongst their surviving spouse and children.

While this is absolutely important and a major part of any estate plan, what it tends to “gloss over” are the smaller personal pieces of property in our lives that have become treasured and which have deep meaning to us.   Making a “specific gift” or legacy in an estate plan allows you to give a piece of personal property to someone in your will or in your trust. For example, you may wish to leave your stamp collection to a nephew or your gold wedding ring to your goddaughter.

By making these types of gifts as part of your estate plan, you get a chance to pass on your memories of your life’s treasures. But, when doing so, don’t forget to tell the story behind the item so that your loved ones will always know why it’s such a treasure to you.

Let me give you an example. Most people who know me well, know that one of my hobbies (well a passion really) is building hardwood furniture in my workshop.  I’ve probably spent countless hours over the years in my shop surrounded by my tools and my hardwoods, in front of my workbench, hand finishing an end table or “squaring up” a cabinet door.

What many people may not know is that it was my father who started me down this road. He’s an avid “do it yourselfer” and was always building things around the house when I was growing up.

Well, probably some six years back, he gave me a toolbox that he had handcrafted himself from one of my favorite types of hardwood – American black cherry. The box was fashioned with hand cut dovetails and was hand finished by him with his own recipe of linseed oil.

This toolbox means the world to me. I carry all of my favorite hand tools in it.

The box is a treasure to me because it was made by my father for me to use in a passion that I had learned from him. It is a gift to me that is priceless.  It’s an heirloom because of the story behind it.

Now here’s the rub: if you take away the story behind this gift then it’s just a toolbox. Granted it’s a nice toolbox, but if you were to put that box in a yard sale you might fetch ten or twenty bucks.

And isn’t that the way with most of the personal items that are “treasures” in our life? Look around you? Think about what you treasure? What has meaning to you?

When I counsel clients these days about their estate plans and we talk about personal items that they’d like to pass on, I try to get them thinking about what the true “treasures” in their life really are and why they’ve become such treasures. And, I urge them to tell the story behind the item in writing so that their loved ones always remember why it meant so much to them. In that way, the gift will most likely become a treasure to them.

Remember – it’s the story behind life’s little treasures that make them priceless.

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The Importance of Writing a Will

More than half of Americans die without leaving a will. Without a will or any legal arrangement state laws will control how your assets and finances will be passed onto you loved ones. But more importantly, without a legal plan in place, custody of your minor children will be left in the hands of a probate judge, who knows nothing about your hopes and family values for raising your kids.

I’m attorney Andrew Garcia of Phillips Garcia, writing a will right now could be the smartest decision for ensuring the protection of your assets but more importantly your loved ones.


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What does intestate mean?

1. Of or relating to a person who has died without a valid will.
2. One who has died without a will.

Remember: It is important to write a Will or Trust properly, in order to protect your child’s future. Email Andrew at [email protected] to set up your will or trust today.

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Trusts: Recipe for cooking a great Trust with Attorney Andrew Garcia

Attorney and Cooking Enthusiast Andrew Garcia passes along his recipe for Cooking up a Great Trust. Andrew spells out the necessary steps that a family needs in order to create an effective trust.

If you would like to set up a trust or for more information about trusts please fill out the contact form or visit us at

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Trusts: Recipe for Cooking a Great Living Trust with Attorney Andrew Garcia

Attorney and Cooking Enthusiast Andrew Garcia passes along his recipe for Cooking up a Great Trust. Andrew spells out the necessary steps that a family needs in order to create an effective trust.

If you would like to set up a trust or for more information about trusts please fill out our  contact form

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Massachusetts Probate Court to Lose 20% of Judges: What’s that mean for me?

Before the end of 2011, 20% of judges in the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court will be stepping down. Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reports.

So what does this mean for me?

With significantly less Probate and Family Court judges, the Probate process will slow down dramatically, leaving your assets in probate for an extended period of time and in the hands of the remaining overwhelmed judges.

How do I pass down my assets to my children without being affected by the Probate Court?

Set up a Trust! Setting up a trust is the safest way to make sure your assets get to your children without entering Probate.

Why a Trust and not a Will?

A Will “comes to life” when you die and passes your property on through the Probate Court System. A Trust, or “living trust,” “comes to life” when your your still alive and after your death while avoiding Probate Court.

Who can help me set up a trust?

We can! At Phillips Garcia Law we specialize in protecting families by helping them legally pass down their assets in the safest and most precise way possible. Contact us using the Contact Form, call us at 508-998-0800, or email us at [email protected] As always, you can find out more information on protecting your family and creating Trusts at our website,