Planning for Life

Not Even Close: Raising a Child with Autisim

Posted by Karen Mariscal on April 29, 2015

By Karen B. Mariscal

I came by my work as a special needs lawyer naturally, in that my husband and I have a severely autistic son, our first child, who is now a young adult.  We have navigated the educational system and the transition years, and Billy is now attending a community day program at the Charles River Center in Needham.  At this point he still lives at home, although we are working on creating a group home for him in Framingham.  Here is my story.

“Not even close.”

This is what I said to my pediatrician when she asked me the very simple yet profound question “What does he do when you ask him to go get his shoes?”

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Topics: special needs planning, autism

Using Immediate Annuities in MassHealth Planning for Single Nursing Home Residents

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on April 28, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Last week, I blogged about how immediate annuities might be used by spouses of nursing home residents to preserve their assets and qualify the nursing home spouse for MassHealth coverage. Immediate annuities are also used by unmarried or widowed nursing home residents, but with less favorable results. In effect, they permit the nursing home resident to pay the MassHealth rate rather than the private-pay rate. Use of immediate annuities is based on the following rules and facts:

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Topics: MassHealth planning, long-term care planning

Immediate Annuities in MassHealth Planning for Married Couples

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on April 23, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Medicaid (MassHealth in Massachusetts) is the primary source of payment for long-term care services in the United States. To qualify, however, those needing long-term care must become impoverished under MassHealth's complicated and often-changing rules. To make matters even more complicated, the rules differ depending on whether the patient seeks care at home, in an assisted living facility or in a nursing home. The following discussion of the use of immediate annuities applies only to the nursing home setting. But in that setting, immediate annuities can be of great benefit in protecting spouses of nursing home residents and to a lesser extent can help preserve assets for the children of nursing home residents who are unmarried or widowed, which will be the subject of another blog post.

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Topics: MassHealth planning

Census Bureau Issues Revealing Report on Older Americans

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on April 14, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

The U.S. Census Bureau has issued a report on the 65+ in the United States: 2014 that paints an interesting picture of the changing demographics of the nation as a whole and of older Americans in particular. Here are some of the highlights:

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Topics: growth of elderly population, long-term care costs

Case Highlights PI Attorney Settlement Planning Responsibility

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on April 7, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Elder law and special needs planning attorneys who work with individuals who win personal injury claims have long felt that trial lawyers should be more concerned about the issues that come up for clients after the case is resolved. These can include Medicare set aside rules, continuing eligibility for public benefits and appropriate financial management and budgeting of the settlement funds.

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Topics: personal injury settlement

Form Over Function: Court Decision Guts Special Needs Trust

Posted by Karen Mariscal on April 6, 2015

By Karen B. Mariscal

A recent federal court decision in South Dakota is a set-back for the special needs community, and illustrates the “gotcha!” mentality sometimes adopted by the Social Security Administration when it comes to (d)(4)(A) trusts – i.e. trusts that are established with a disabled person’s own money pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1396p(d)(4)(A) in order to prevent the loss of government benefits.

In Draper v. Colvin, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) rejection of a (d)(4)(A) trust designed to hold a woman's personal injury settlement, because, in the Court’s view, the disabled person created the trust herself.  Under the statute, a (d)(4)(A) trust is only valid if, among other requirements, it is created by the individual's parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or a court. (No one knows why Congress enacted this limitation and legislation has been introduced to correct it.)

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Topics: court decision,, draper v. colvin,

Anticipating the Costs of Long Term Care

Posted by Sarah Foster on March 27, 2015

By Sarah Foster

Many responsible adults trying to plan for the future tend to focus on one side of their balance sheet -- namely, their projected income and assets -- because those figures can be estimated based on current available information, like expected social security payouts, accrued retirement savings, and anticipated pension payouts. Harder to project, but just as important to understanding the overall health of one's future finances, however, are the outlays that one will have to make down the road for certain expenses, such as long term care.  While there are certainly unknown variables, such as the degree and duration of care/assistance an individual will require during his or her lifetime, readily available data does exist that will allow one to consider the range of long term care expenses one may eventually incur.

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7 Decisions to Make for Your Durable Power of Attorney

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on March 24, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

I've always said that the durable power of attorney is your most important estate planning document. It appoints your agent or agents (called your "attorney-in-fact") to step in and act for you on financial and legal matters in the event you ever become incapacitated. It can permit them to pay your bills, make investment decisions, take planning steps, and take care of your family when you can't do so yourself.

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Topics: Estate Planning

If You're a Super Lawyer, Where's Your Cape?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on March 17, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

With the proliferation of attorney ratings in recent years, what if anything do they mean? For decades, Martindale Hubbell provided a peer-reviewed rating of "AV" for its top-rated attorneys. It has now changed it to "AV Preeminent" to compete with a plethora of upstarts, including Super Lawyers, AVVO and Best Law Firms, the last of which seems to be reserved primarily to larger law firms worldwide.

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Topics: top-rated lawyers

VA Benefits for Home Care to be Restricted: Comment on Proposal Now.

Posted by Patricia C. D'Agostino on March 16, 2015

By Patricia C. D'Agostino

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Topics: aid and attendance, va benefits

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