Here's a complete guide to every critical medical, legal, and estate planning document and relevant state law for Massachusetts. Download these forms and get started with Pillar to organize all of your most important documents in one safe, secure, easy-to-use online storage solution
February 2, 2021
Massachusetts has some of the oldest state laws in the country, which means there are a lot of medical, legal, and estate planning documents, forms, and requirements that may directly affect you if you live in The Bay State. Here’s a comprehensive list of all the most important documents for you to know about to help you and your family prepare for the future.
According to Harvard, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine (BRM) requires physician offices to retain (patient) records for 7 years from the last patient encounter. However, because regulations for certain records vary so much in Massachusetts most institutions and clinics (including staff-model HMOs) retain medical records for 30 years after the discharge or a particular patient, making it one of the longest medical record requirements in the country.
If you want to obtain your medical records in Massachusetts, physicians not covered by HIPAA can charge a base fee of $15 for each request, as well as a copying charge of $0.50 per page (for the first 100 pages), and $0.25 per page in excess of 100.
An Advance Directive is a way to state your wishes for medical treatment and end of life care if you’re unable to speak for yourself. You can also establish medical power of attorney and designate a healthcare proxy.
Download these advance directive forms:
You can either employ the services of a lawyer or create this form yourself.
You can register to become an organ donor in Massachusetts through Donate Life New England or by simply ticking the box on your driver’s license renewal next time you’re at the DMV.
In the state of Massachusetts, it is not required to register a trust with any agencies, so long as it's held by the Trustee. Notarizing your document can help prove its authenticity, if contested. Like most states, trusts are not public records in the state of Massachusetts so you can keep your assets and allocations private instead of making them public record during the probate process.
A death certificate is a permanent public record in the state of Massachusetts. That means that any member of the public (not just family) can order a copy of a death certificate from the city clerk of the where the death happened.
These laws have been established but not been approved yet. They provide access to a person's digital assets after death. You can learn about these laws here: Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA)
Under the laws of Massachusetts, probate doesn't apply to all assets. For large estates with or without a will, it would be necessary to have a probate before the estate can be given to the heirs. This is provided there is also no living trust.
Massachusetts does not have an inheritance tax. However, Massachusetts is one of that few states in the U.S. that does have an estate tax (often called a death tax).
Unlike other estate taxes that only tax the amount over a certain threshold, Massachusetts estate tax applies to the entire estate, not just the amount above the exemption. This means if your estate is worth $1.5 million, the tax applies to all $1.5 million, not just the $500,000 above the exemption. Remember, that you may also owe federal tax on an inheritance.
Massachusetts has a number of unique state laws when it comes to your medical records, inheritance taxes, wills, trusts, and estate planning. Learn how to navigate the probate process and strict estate tax with confidence with your customized (and organized!) Pillar account. You can scan, store, and share your most important state documents when you need them with Pillar's secure and easy-to-use online storage tool for you and your family.
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