Probate Court

Healthcare Proxies: Massachusetts Young Adults Need Their Medical Wishes to Be Legally Documented Too.

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Here’s a tip for families of college students and college students themselves – if your college student is over the age of 18, then they are legal adults. That’s right, they are no longer minors in the eyes of the law AND their parents are no longer legally in charge of them.

This means that if something awful happens to a college kid, (i.e., a bad car wreck, an accident on or off campus at a party, a trip to the hospital) and they cannot communicate for themselves, then there’s no one who is legally entitled to find out medical information, to make medical or legal decisions, to talk to insurance companies or to find out other information about them.

Bottom line: if something happens to a college student, their family is shut out of the process and the only way to be able to make decisions is to go through the time and expense of the Probate Court.

Yet there’s a simple way to avoid this: put in place one of the most important legal documents that a young adult needs: a Healthcare Proxy. 
Far too many people assume that their families would make the choices they would want in an emergency. 
But it’s not enough for young adults to just tell their parents about their wishes.  Instead, they need to clearly document their preferences in legally executed documents. The truth is most young adults will need the help of a trusted person in medical or legal emergencies. But to do that, it is critical that they choose someone to make legal and medical decisions for them before they are ever caught in a position where they cannot.

National Healthcare Decisions Day is on April 16th and it’s an important reminder for every adult, young or old, to appoint someone to make medical decisions and possible end-of-life care choices. So in honor of National Health Care Decisions Day, we encourage all families with young adults to legally nominate someone to make difficult medical decisions for them when they are not able to.

If you have questions or would like to learn more about healthcare directives, talk to your attorney and get something in writing before an unforeseen emergency strikes. If you don’t have an attorney and would like to schedule a meeting with us, just fill out the “Contact Form” on our website.

This April 16th let your young adults’ voices be heard, even if they can’t speak for themselves.

The Importance of Writing a Will

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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.


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

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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 As always, you can find out more information on protecting your family and creating Trusts at our website,

What is Probate?

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Massachusetts Family Legal Planning Attorney, Andrew J. Garcia

I am asked this question frequently. “Probate” is the court-supervised process of collecting and then distributing a deceased person’s assets (their personal property such as bank accounts and mutual funds, and their real estate).

It usually includes some of the following:

  • proving in court that the deceased person’s Will is valid (if they had a Will);
  • identifying and then preparing an inventory of the deceased person’s real and personal property;
  • paying the debts and taxes of the deceased; and,
  • distributing the property according to the terms of the Will, or if there is no will then according to state law.

Probate involves paperwork and usually court appearances by attorneys (although lawyers aren’t required). Court filing fees and attorney’s fees are paid from the property of the estate.

If the deceased person left a Will, an executor will have been named. The executor is the person named to identify and collect all of the assets of the deceased person and to see that the terms of the Will are carried out.

Probate generally involves two things: time and money.   Between court costs, filing fees, and attorney’s fees, probate can be expensive. It can also take months or even years to wind through the Probate Court.

Probate is also a public forum. This means that anyone can look at the files which contain information about the property of the estate and its value. They can also learn the identities of the heirs.

For all of these reasons, probate is a process that many people want to avoid. And, it can usually be avoided by using a living trust.

To learn more about the probate process or living trusts, contact Family Legal Planning Attorney, Andrew Garcia of Phillips & Garcia at or call him at (508) 998-0800.