Planning for Life

Who Should Get Your Stuff When You Die? And Who Should Decide?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 26, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

In the United States, we get to decide who gets our assets when we die, our children, our spouse, charities, or our hairdresser. The only exception is that absent a prenuptial agreement, spouses have the right to "elect against the will" to get at least a minimum inheritance. This "spousal share" in Massachusetts is relatively meager, $25,000 plus an income interest in half of the remaining estate if the decedent had no surviving children or grandchildren or an income interest in a third of the remaining estate if the deceased spouse did have surviving children or grandchildren. No one else has any rights to the estate at all.

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Topics: Estate Planning, will in massachusetts

Laughter is the Best Medicine:  Humor in the Special Needs Parenting Trenches

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on August 23, 2016

There are so many funny things about raising a disabled child. Often the joke is on me. Like how I am always weirdly and inappropriately concerned about whether my child “wins” at a Special Olympics meet. My son, who is severely autistic, doesn’t even know he is in a race. He still occasionally comes in first, and when that happens, I parade him around with his gold medal for days, so that I can bask in the glory. Again, he has no idea what the medal means, and in fact he doesn’t really appreciate the attention, but apparently that is irrelevant.

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Topics: special needs planning

Accessory Apartments: Keeping Our Special Needs Children and Elderly Close

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on August 15, 2016

Along with the graying of America, our society is grappling with a dramatic surge of young adults impacted by autism and other intellectual or developmental disabilities who are aging out of school and into the vastly less supported real world. We need to think creatively about how to provide alternative housing options for them.

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Topics: special needs planning, caregiving

Massachusetts SJC Overturns Pfannenstiehl, Affirming Use of Asset Protection Trusts

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 9, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

On August 8th in the case of Pfannenstiehl v. Pfannenstiehl the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court unanimously overturned a lower court decision that had ordered that assets in an irrevocable discretionary trust created by the husband's father be split in a divorce. The SJC in this decision upholds the use of trusts to shelter assets for future generations.

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Topics: trusts, asset protection

ABLE Accounts are Open for Business!

Posted by Karen Mariscal on August 4, 2016

This could be life-changing for your disabled loved one

For the first time, many people with disabilities (and their parents) can open special savings accounts in which they can save money (and have the use of more cash) without jeopardizing their government benefits.  Ohio, Florida, Nebraska and Tennessee have all launched ABLE accounts, based on the 2014 ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act.

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Topics: MassHealth, Intellectually Disabled, disability

So You've Been Appointed Trustee, Now What?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 3, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Congratulations.  You have been appointed trustee of a trust.  That is a strong vote of confidence in your judgment and probity.  Unfortunately, it is also a major responsibility.  Following is a short description of your duties.

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Topics: trusts, supplemental needs trusts

Five Myths about How We Age

Posted by Elizabeth Stepakoff on August 1, 2016

According to Stanford Professor Laura L. Carstensen, the 20th century bequeathed us a fabulous gift:  an average of 30 more years of life!  Life expectancy at birth is now 78, whereas in the early 1900s it was only about 50.  Today there are more than 70,000 centenarians in the U.S., roughly four times the number there were just ten years ago.  We need to think about those extra decades, and how we want to spend them (and how we plan to afford them). 

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Topics: baby boomers

Beta Test the Latest Innovation in Estate Planning

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 20, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Up until now, you've had two options for your estate planning: Go to a do-it-yourself site like LegalZoom or work with an attorney who will customize your plan to meet your circumstances. Most people are afraid to fly solo online and many feel that they do not need the one-on-one attention, or cost, of an attorney. That's why we are creating a third option.

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Topics: trusts, Estate Planning, will in massachusetts

MassHealth Imposing Asset Limit on Community Spouse of Frail Elder Waiver Applicants in Fall 2016

Posted by Patricia C. D'Agostino on July 18, 2016

We anticipate a significant change coming this fall for married elders seeking eligibility for the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver in Massachusetts.  The Commonwealth is very likely to begin imposing an asset limit of $119,220 for the community spouse of HCBS waivers.  There is currently no asset limit for the community spouse of applicants for the HCBS waiver.  This will apply to new HCBS applicants and HCBS waiver applicants who started receiving benefits beginning January 1, 2014. 

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Topics: MassHealth

10 Reasons to Review Your Estate Plan

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 13, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Estate planning attorneys always advise clients to review their estate plans every five to ten years, but who does that? Most people prepare an estate plan when they have children, again when they near retirement, and finally when and if they or a spouse becomes ill or begins to show signs of dementia. If you prepare and update your plan at these three junctures, you and your family will probably be in good shape. But if you don't, there's a strong likelihood that your documents will be out-of-date when needed, causing extra cost, delay and stress to your family.

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Topics: Estate Planning

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