Planning for Life

Trump-Ryan-McConnell Plan Takes Aim at Your Parents, and You

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 21, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

image-3.pngI generally try to avoid politics in my blog posts, but sometimes politics invade my field of long-term care planning. At this writing, the Republican leadership in the Senate is crafting its own version of Obamacare repeal. We don't know what it will look like, and 

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Topics: long-term care planning, MassHealth, Medicaid

Making Charitable Contributions from Your IRA

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 14, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

I've often heard that taxpayers should make their charitable contributions from their IRAs rather than from their other savings, but didn't understand why until recently. It seemed to me that any tax incurred by withdrawing funds from the IRA would be offset by the charitable deduction available for making the gift. So the result would be the same whether the taxpayer withdrew the funds from the IRA and subsequently made a charitable gift of the same amount or made the donation directly from the IRA.

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Topics: Retirement Planning, Retirement Benefits

SJC Rejects MassHealth "Availability" Doctrine

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 5, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

In its long-awaited decision in the Daley and Nadeau cases released on May 30th, 2017 ( Daley v. Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (Mass., No. SJC-12200, May 30, 2017) and Nadeau v. Director of the Office of Medicaid (Mass., No. SJC-12205, May 30, 2017)), the Supreme Judicial Court rules that MassHealth cannot count assets owned by irrevocable trusts as available to an applicant for MassHealth unless and only to the extent the trustee may distribute principal to the applicant or his or her spouse. MassHealth had argued that the right of the applicant or his or her spouse to use and occupy a residence owned by a trust makes it available and countable. 

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Topics: trusts, MassHealth planning, MassHealth

June 1st Marks 30 Years of Elder Law and Special Needs Planning

Posted by Anthony Bushu on June 1, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

JAB-HSM-RJB (high res).jpgThirty-one years ago my law firm, Palmer & Dodge, sent me over to Greater Boston Elderly Legal Services for a four-month stint representing seniors being pushed out of their homes during one of the earliest phases of gentrification. This served several purposes. The firm was able to provide a pro bono service. GBELS benefited from an extra staff attorney -- always inexperienced. And we, the young associates, could practice representing clients and appearing in court, without risking our inexperience on the firm's paying clients.

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Topics: elder law

7 Solutions If You Transferred Assets Within 5 Years of Moving to a Nursing Home

Posted by Anthony Bushu on May 24, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

I recently received the following inquiry from a colleague:

I’m working with a client whose mother has been self-pay in a nursing home for several months as she spends down her savings. They applied for MassHealth in January and they anticipate she’ll run out of funds by mid-March. There’s the possibility that they will incur a penalty period since in June 2012, their mother gave about $80k to her daughter.

My understanding is that the lookback period is 5 years and that period begins on the date the application was filed, as opposed to when she will become eligible for Medicaid once her money is spent down. Is that understanding correct? The family just needs to know what to expect and is considering asking the sister to recoup the cost but wish to avoid undue conflict if possible.

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Topics: MassHealth planning, long-term care planning, MassHealth

Who Should Build a Wall? Mexican Life Expectancy to Equal that in the US by 2030

Posted by Anthony Bushu on May 17, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

Healthy americans.jpgAccording to an article in The Lancet, average life expectancy at birth may reach 90 in South Korea by 2030, but not in the United States where life expectancy actually declined from 2014 to 2015, the first time that has occurred in more than two decades. While the decline, according to the National Center for Health Statistics was small, from 76.5 to 76.3 years for men and from 81.3 to 81.2 for women, it's one of many bad signs about health in the United States.

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Topics: growth of elderly population

ABLE Opens in Massachusetts

Posted by Anthony Bushu on May 10, 2017

By Karen Mariscal 

disabled man.jpgGood news: On May 10th Massachusetts launched its ABLE program, named The Attainable Savings Plan, to allow people who become disabled to save money, tax-free, and have more financial freedom than they have had in decades. 

An ABLE account allows donors to put up to $14,000 into the account per year, to grow tax-free. Even more important than the tax benefits, the money in the account, up to $100,000, is not counted when determining eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) and MassHealth.  In other words, a person can have up to $100,000 in an Able Account and still be considered to have less than $2,000 in assets, thereby qualifying for SSI and MassHealth.

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Topics: SSI, ABLE Accounts, Attainable Savings Plan

Appeals Court Confirms Use of POAs in Life Estate Deeds

Posted by Anthony Bushu on May 10, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

A life estate is a deed that divides ownership by time. The "life tenant" has full rights to the property during his life, but at his death full rights pass to the "remaindermen." Both the life tenant and the remaindermen are owners of the property, but their interests are different.

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Topics: MassHealth planning, long-term care planning, Estate Planning

Special Needs Trusts and Retirement Benefits: A Complicated Subject

Posted by Anthony Bushu on May 5, 2017

By Karen Mariscal 

older parent and child.jpgMuch of your savings may be in your 401(k)’s and IRAs.  It is important to designate the proper beneficiaries for these accounts, so that your beneficiaries do not have to pay taxes on the funds prematurely. Unfortunately when a beneficiary has special needs, it gets complicated.

If the beneficiary receives the IRAs and 401(k)’s directly, the required minimum distributions (RMDs) could prevent your child from receiving the government benefits he needs. But if you designate a special needs trust as the beneficiary of a retirement account, there could be adverse income tax consequences. 

Fortunately, with proper drafting, such tax results usually can be prevented. People have written entire books on this subject -- this is our attempt to summarize the basic issues.           

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Topics: Retirement Planning, Special Needs Trust, Retirement Benefits, Required Minimum Distributions

ABLE Accounts Preserve Food Stamp Eligibility

Posted by Anthony Bushu on May 4, 2017

By Karen Mariscal 

Child and food.jpgA final rule has been issued that states money in an ABLE account is not counted for purposes of determining SNAP eligibility. Up until now, funds in ABLE accounts were not specifically excluded from eligibility calculations for SNAP benefits. That changed on March 7, 2017, when the amendment went into effect.

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Topics: MassHealth, Food Stamps, SNAP Eligibility, ABLE Accounts, SNAP Benefits

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