Tag: Massachusetts

Living Together/Cohabiting , , , ,

Living Together: 3 Reasons to Do Your Estate Plan in 2016

Close up of couple having fun outdoorsMassachusetts doesn’t recognize common law marriage no matter how long a couple has lived together.  Since common law marriage isn’t recognized, there are no laws that require that property be automatically passed on to a surviving partner after the death of the first and there’s no guarantee that one partner will be in charge of making medical decisions for another.

If you’re living together in Massachusetts, it’s critical that you have your legal affairs in order in case the unthinkable happens. Here are three reasons why cohabiting couples should prepare an estate plan in 2016:

Reason #1: When You Die Your Surviving Boyfriend or Girlfriend Doesn’t Automatically Get Your Property

When a person dies without a last will and testament, Massachusetts law controls how property passes on. This is called the “law of intestate succession” or the “laws of intestacy.”

Massachusetts law says that when a person dies without a will their property will pass on to a surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, then it passes to surviving children. If there are no surviving children, then to surviving parents, siblings and so on.

One person that the law does not include is a surviving boyfriend or girlfriend. So, a surviving cohabiting partner is not guaranteed to receive any property from a deceased cohabiting partner.

Continue Reading

Second Marriages and Relationships , , , ,

How to Protect Your Kids’ Inheritance in a Second Marriage

Why Second Marriage Estate Planning is Critical

When you get remarried in Massachusetts having an estate plan becomes even more critical because without proper legal planning state law will control how your assets get passed on. If you have children from your prior marriage and you haven’t created a plan that will protect them, then you assets could be passed on entirely to your new spouse and those assets might not get to your kids.

Attorney Andrew Garcia of The Living Together Law Center, a division of Phillips Garcia Law in Dartmouth explains:

Continue Reading

Living Together/Cohabiting , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Massachusetts Does Not Recognize Common Law Marriage

US Supreme CourtMassachusetts does not recognize the doctrine of “common law” marriage. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve lived together, it could be 7 years or 70 years, you cannot have a marriage under common law in Massachusetts. This is true for both heterosexual couples and same sex couples.

Only a limited number of states in the United States recognize common law marriage – nearby Rhode Island happens to be one of them. Generally, though, in those states that do recognize common law marriage it isn’t the number of years living together that matters, it’s usually the “intent” of the couple. They must intend to be considered to be married, they must act like they are married in the community, and they must live together (the length of time usually doesn’t matter).

Continue Reading

Living Together/Cohabiting , , , , , , , , ,

Living Together: Does Massachusetts Recognize Common Law Marriage?

All across the United States people of all ages are making a choice to live together in a long-term, committed relationship. Some simply call it “living together.” Some call it “cohabiting.” Lately the term “domestic partnership” has become more popular particularly in same-sex relationships.

For all intents and purposes, many of these cohabiting couples, whether heterosexual or same-sex, act like a married couple. They share bank accounts. They buy property together. They make major decisions together. They may even be raising children together.

However, technically they are not married because they haven’t had the official marriage ceremony.

There is a common belief that if you live together for 7 years, then you are married by “common law.”  This is simply not accurate. Only a few states recognize “common law marriage.  And, Massachusetts is not one of them. (The closest state to us that does is Rhode Island).

Continue Reading

Second Marriages and Relationships , , , , , , , , ,

I’m in a Second Marriage. Is Estate Planning Really All That Important?

Simple answer: it’s probably MORE important now in your second marriage than it was in your first.

In most second marriages, each spouse comes into the new relationship with “baggage” from the first marriage (and I don’t mean “baggage” in the negative sense). They have kids from the first marriage. They have a house from the first marriage. They have a 401k from the first marriage. Maybe they have a business that survived the first marriage.

Other than the “kids,” these pieces of “baggage” are all “assets” in the eyes of the law from the first marriage.

Now, usually there’s a pretty interesting dynamic that I see surrounding how each spouse feels about these different pieces of “baggage” from the first marriage. Generally, they tend to think of the property, or “baggage,” from the first marriage as their own individual property.

It’s not necessarily a negative or selfish feeling that they have about these assets – it is understandable – but they tend to have the view that they worked hard for them, they survived the break up of a first marriage and came out with them in tact, so they view them as “mine.”

Added to this dynamic each spouse then usually has very strong feelings about how these pieces of “baggage” should be handled when they pass away.

Here’s a great “real life” example that many second-marriage couples face. This couple’s been married for over 10 years. They both have adult kids from a first marriage. The couple is living together in the home that the wife brought from the first marriage.

Now, they live in this house, which has no mortgage, as if it is “their” home. They act as if it is “their” home. They both contribute to its upkeep. They pay taxes on it. But, if something happens to her, then the wife wants her husband to live in the house for as long as he wants (and for as long as he remains single after she’s gone), and then the house should go to her kids from the first marriage only. She doesn’t want the house to go to her stepchildren.

So here’s the rub: if that wife dies without some sort of estate plan in place, then state laws will determine how that house is passed on. So, the surviving husband will now have part ownership in that house with her kids from the first marriage. If that surviving husband then dies without a will, his kids will inherit his share of the property – a result that the wife didn’t want.

For this couple, like most couples in a second marriage, a living trust combined with wills could solve their dilemma and help get them the result that they want.

So as you can see, if you’re in a second marriage (or a third or even a fourth), it’s imperative that you do some estate planning. If you have questions, contact an estate planning attorney to talk about your second marriage questions.

Andrew J. Garcia - "Don't leave a financial mess for your loved ones. Get some Family Legal Planning done before it's too late."

The Family Legal Planning system at Phillips & Garcia has been designed to help busy families get their Massachusetts estate planning done in a convenient and affordable way. To learn more about trusts and how they can be used in your estate plan, schedule your complimentary Family Legal Planning session with Attorney Andrew Garcia. To speak with Attorney Garcia call him at (508) 998-0800 or email him at [email protected]

Finances & Kids, Second Marriages and Relationships , , , , , , , ,

Why would a bank approve a Massachusetts short sale? 2nd Marriage Estate Planning Attorney

Ep. 4 of “2nd Marriage Estate Planning

Will a Massachusetts bank approve a short sale? Andrew Garcia of Phillips Garcia Law answers this question in the 4th installment of “2nd Marriage Estate Planning.”

Watch our previous episodes involving short sales and estate planning on our channel or website.

http://www.youtube.com/user/PhillipsGarcia?feature=mhee

Finances & Kids, Second Marriages and Relationships , , , , , , , ,

Should I short sell my Massachusetts home?

Episode 3 of “2nd Marriage Estate Planning” where Andrew Garcia continues to answer a viewer’s questions regarding her debt due to a short sale in Massachusetts. Does her debt now lie on the shoulders of her new husband as well? To find out the answers to these questions watch our mini-series “2nd Marriage Estate Planning.”

Episode 1 – What is a short sale?
Episode 2  – What happens during a short sale?

Finances & Kids, Second Marriages and Relationships , , , , , , ,

What is a Short Sale in Massachusetts? Estate planning for 2nd Marriages

The first episode of our series “2nd Marriage Estate Planning” for Massachusetts residents. Attorney Andrew Garcia of Phillips Garcia Law has extensive knowledge and expertise in family estate planning, second marriage law, wrongful foreclosure, business law, and personal injury.

Episode 1 thoroughly explains Short Sales in Massachusetts. For more information visit our website at www.phillipsgarcia.com or fill out the contact form to talk to Andrew.

Call PhillipsGarcia Law at 888-449-5343  

You can watch more videos from Phillips Garcia Law on their Youtube Channel.

Wills & Trusts - the Basics , , , , , ,

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.

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO WRITE A WILL TODAY, CALL US AT 508-998-0800 OR FILL OUT THE CONTACT FORM. YOU CAN ALSO VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT WWW.PHILLIPSGARCIA.COM.