Trusts, Estate Planning and Probate

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The estate planning process requires a thorough understanding of probate and tax laws, which are frequently changing. We advise our clients on a variety of techniques to reduce or even eliminate the imposition of estate and gift taxes. We help our clients provide for their heirs, preserve their estates and, in some cases, avoid the need for probate. We are experienced in drafting the appropriate documents to address our clients’ needs, including wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care proxies, or other estate planning documents.

Our firm has extensive experience probating large and small estates and guiding clients through the intricate process of probate. As part of our estate administration practice, we prepare the necessary probate filings, fiduciary income tax returns and Federal and Massachusetts tax returns.

Probate is the process by which the court supervises the transfers of legal title of property from the estate of the person who has died (the “decedent”) to his or her beneficiaries. If you own property in your own name and on your death you want to transfer the property to another person, your heirs may need to file with the Probate Court. The probate of an estate may be a time consuming process. Ware & Goodman incorporates methods to avoid probate into their estate plans. For example, when a trust owns property, the property passes to the beneficiaries without probate.

Ware & Goodman can assure that the administrative burdens placed on your family after your death are minimized by eliminating the need to deal with your estate in probate court.
Both the state of Massachusetts and the federal government impose a tax on the estate of a deceased person. The federal estate and gift tax is imposed at the highest percentage rate of any tax in America. Ware & Goodman use a variety of techniques to reduce or eliminate the imposition of this death tax without interfering with your economic objectives.

If you are want to support a favorite charity, there are several ways the firm can magnify benefits to your family while assisting the charitable entity.

Whether or not estate taxes are not your primary concern, your estate plan can be designed to help guarantee security for you and for those important to you, and to ensure your commitments will continue to be honored when you are no longer able to meet these commitments personally.

A trust can be crafted to:

  • assure that your assets are managed for your benefit
  • protect your children
  • support your loved ones, especially if they are disabled or elderly
  • protect your spouse to preserve the lifestyle you have shared
  • provide for your support in the event you are disabled

The best benefit from having us prepare these documents for you is peace of mind. You will have a properly prepared plan in place, one that gives your instructions and protects your family.

 

Residential and Commercial Real Estate

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Residential real estate and related matters are a major aspect of our practice. We have extensive legal experience representing individual and business clients in residential and commercial real estate transactions, including those involving condominium projects, subdivisions and development of business property. We negotiate the terms of purchase and sale agreements, review and resolve title issues, and address concerns regarding financing. We represent clients in the development of real estate projects, acquisitions, sales and leasing.

The purchase of your home is likely to be your single greatest financial investment. You should have an attorney review the contract to buy or sell your house before you sign a binding contract. We offer a lump-sum fee to represent you in the purchase or sale of your house, which includes review and negotiating the terms of the Purchase and Sale Agreement.

The Purchase and Sale agreement will address such important issues as:

  • buyer’s obligation to purchase the house even if it is totally destroyed;
  • seller’s obligation to vacate the house completely prior to passing papers;
  • seller’s right to sue buyer for damages if buyer defaults (which can be in addition to retaining the deposit); and
  • the buyer’s right to have various inspections done at the premises, including inspections of the structure, septic system, and for pests, lead paint, water, UFFI and radon.

After the Contract is Signed
Once you sign a contract to purchase, we will help you with issues that may arise during the inspection period and advise you on compliance with your mortgage contingency requirements. After the purchase and sale agreement has been signed and financing arranged for the buyer, we undertake a full examination of the title, covering at least 50 years. Title examination requires review of the deeds, mortgages, court decrees and all other documents affecting the title and applying the law and court decisions to the various circumstances arising in the title examination. It is the seller’s obligation to correct any defects in the title.

Common Closing Costs
We compute the costs that need to be adjusted between the buyer and the seller, such as taxes, fuel, and rent. We prepare a closing statement showing the amount owed by buyer to seller. We prepare the deed for the seller and review the deed for the buyer. Both buyer and seller will likely be required to sign agreements to reimburse buyer’s bank for losses in connection with smoke detectors, lead paint, and other substances. The Seller’s expenses normally include:

  • attorney’s fees, including negotiations and preparation of documents, correction of title defects, removal of liens, etc.
  • Massachusetts property transfer tax, also called “stamps”
  • the cost of recording documents necessary to clear title
  • real estate broker’s commission

Buyer’s expenses normally include:

  • attorney’s fee, including negotiations and preparation of documents
  • cost of the title examination
  • bank fees
  • cost of recording the deed, mortgage, and municipal lien certificate

Title Insurance
Most banks require that the buyer purchase a lender’s title insurance policy at the closing. The buyer also may choose to purchase an owners title insurance policy to protect against claims relating to the buyer’s title to the property. We can provide this insurance for you.

 

Landlord and Tenant Matters

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We are experienced in the sometimes surprisingly complex areas of residential and commercial tenancies. We advise tenants on their rights and obligations and we represent a number of landlords with commercial and residential properties. We negotiate and draft leases, disclosures, notices and other required documentation, and we represent our clients in court on landlord and tenant issues.

Commercial and Business Needs

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Our firm has many years of experience advising extensive and varied business clients.  We advise corporate clients who have been managing their commercial activities for decades and clients who are starting up their own businesses.  We assist with financing and the purchase and sale of business assets.  Our firm prepares lending documentation, leases, and the votes required to effectuate business transactions. We represent a number of nonprofit corporations and have successfully obtained tax exempt status for them.

Our corporate and business law practice includes:

  • Creating new business entities
  • Succession planning
  • Financing and lending
  • Drafting and negotiating contracts
  • Human resource management, including employee hiring and termination agreements
  • Business compliance
  • And other commercial matters

Civil Litigation

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We provide our clients with effective representation in court. We have represented clients in several Superior Courts, in the Massachusetts Court of Appeals, in Land Court and in Federal court. We have successfully obtained injunctions and other equitable relief. We have mediation training and have represented citizens’ groups and other clients in mediation and in arbitration.

Criminal Law

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We provide our clients with effective representation in court and related proceedings. We have represented clients in motor vehicle and other misdemeanors and felony charges.