Planning for Life

5 Tips on Hiring a Lawyer

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 30, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

So, you need a lawyer, for an elder law issue such as long-term care planning or guardianship, for estate planning, an employment matter, litigation, a personal injury, or your'e starting a new business. How do you find the right attorney for you? What's most important to you -- reputation, price, location, experience, age, ethnicity, religion? There are a lot of lawyers out there and your choice can make all the difference between a good experience with successful results and a poor experience that does not help you reach your goals.

So, here are some ideas on how to start:

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Topics: Legal profession

How Should Fees for Estate Planning Be Set?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 23, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

No one wants to pay more than they think is reasonable for anything, whether that be food, a car, or estate planning. But what's reasonable? That's often in the eye of the beholder.

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Topics: Legal profession, Estate Planning

Why Won't People Pay for Financial Planning?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 9, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Do you know the answers to these questions?

  • What is a variable annuity and should you have one?
  • How much money do you need to retire?
  • Do you need life insurance and, if so, how much? Term or whole life?
  • What's the cost of your 401(k) plan? Or your mutual funds?
  • What's the best 529 plan for your children or grandchildren?
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Topics: financial planning

Timing is Everything So Make Sure You Sign Your Will Now!

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 2, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

In 2005, Paul Lesanto executed a trust that upon his death would divide his estate between his then wife, Donna, and his two children from a prior marriage, Gary and Dianna. He also executed a so-called "pour over" will that would transfer most of his property into the trust, making the trust the governing document in terms of the disposition of Paul's estate.

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Topics: Estate Planning, probate

4 Models for Attorney-Client Advising

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on May 26, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Earlier in the year in a blog post titled How Pushy Should Attorneys Be?, I described how my practice has evolved over the years in terms of being more likely to push my opinion on clients than I would have customarily in my earlier career. Since then, I have read Atul Gawande's Being Mortal in which he describes the trend towards a more collaborative relationship between doctors and patients and attended a talk by Nancy Kline, author of Time to Think, who proposes that professionals should give their clients space to think through their decisions so that they come to the right solution themselves.

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Topics: Estate Planning

Section 8 and Special Needs Trusts: Confusing Massachusetts Federal Case Could Cause Problems

Posted by Karen Mariscal on May 20, 2015

By Karen B. Mariscal

Special Needs Trusts are designed to allow disabled beneficiaries to supplement their income without causing them to be financially ineligible for certain government programs.  Unfortunately each program is different, and HUD’s Section 8 housing assistance program does not expressly recognize or protect Special Needs Trusts.  A federal district court has recently ruled that the Brookline  local housing authority properly counted payments from a special needs trust as income when it determined that a Section 8 beneficiary was no longer eligible for a housing voucher.  DeCambre v. Brookline Housing Authority (D.Mass., No. 14-13425-WGY, March 25, 2015).

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Topics: special needs planning, special needs trusts

Barreira Provides Guidance on MassHealth Appeals

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on May 19, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

At the most recent annual MCLE conference on elder and disability law (which I co-chaired), Brian Barreira of Plymouth provided advice on preparing for a MassHealth fair hearing,5809877 both in terms of being successful at the hearing and in order to build a strong record in case a 30A appeal to superior court becomes necessary. He was speaking in the context of much inconsistency by MassHealth in its treatment of irrevocable trusts and its practice of not explaining what it finds wrong in a trust until the fair hearing itself.

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Topics: MassHealth

Do You Employ Someone in Your Home?

Posted by Karen Mariscal on May 15, 2015

By Karen B. Mariscal

On April 1, 2015, the Massachusetts Domestic Workers Bill of Rights went into effect.  Massachusetts is the fourth state in the nation to enact such a law. The bill guarantees certain protections for home workers, including 24 hours off per 7-day calendar week; meal and rest breaks; limited vacation and sick days; parental leave; legal protections (from discrimination, sexual harassment, illegal charges for food and lodging, and eviction without notice); and notice of termination. The bill does not pertain to casual babysitters.  Here are some of the key provisions:

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Topics: domestic workers bill of rights

Some Elder Care Forms You Can Use

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on May 12, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

The Internet is not only a source of vital information, but also of useful tools. On her website, Joy Loverde, author of The Complete Eldercare Planner, offers a number of useful forms and checklists for anyone caring for a senior. Among others, these include:

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Topics: health-care decision making, Estate Planning

Support Full Judicial Funding

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on May 5, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Last week, on behalf of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, I gants98x147attended a program for bar leadership at the Supreme Judicial Court. Chaired by Chief Justice Ralph Gants, the presenters made the case for why the courts need full funding in the coming year's state budget.

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