Planning for Life

Digital Estate Planning: Who Should Have Access to Your On-line Accounts?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on March 3, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Facebook has recently implemented a legacy contact to give an individual you name access to some aspects of your Facebook account after you pass away. Google instituted a similar Inactive Account Manager in 2013. Both are responses to an increasingly common dilemma as individuals pass away "owning" many Internet accounts and identities.

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Topics: estate planning

The MassHealth PCA Program Can Pay Children to Care for Parents

Posted by Patricia C. D'Agostino on March 2, 2015

By Patricia C. D'Agostino

Adult children of seniors who need care at home can be caught in a difficult bind—wanting to provide the kind of substantial hands-on assistance that will permit a parent to remain at home instead of moving to a long-term care facility, but finding themselves unable to do so given their own financial need to work and the demands of their jobs.  The MassHealth Personal Care Attendant (“PCA”) program can offer a solution for many families who find themselves in this situation.  The PCA program can provide a person with approximately $13 per hour to pay a caregiver (including a child or other family member, so long as they are not the parent’s legal guardian or spouse).  

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Topics: Massachusetts, pca program, masshealth personal care attendant

Is a Probate Proceeding Always Required After Someone Dies?

Posted by Jeffrey A. Bloom on February 18, 2015

By Jeffrey A. Bloom

Probate is a legal process by which an appointed individual -- usually a spouse or family member -- is given the power to identify and gather a deceased person's ("decedent's") assets, pay any debts or taxes the decedent owes, and eventually transfer any remaining assets to the people who will inherit them, either according to the terms of the decedent's will (if one exists) or according to Massachusetts law (if one does not).  In 2012, Massachusetts adopted the Uniform Probate Code ("MUPC") in an effort to simplify the state's probate and estate administration process.  Below are some key points to keep in mind regarding the probate process:

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Topics: probate, asset, mupc,

How Pushy Should Attorneys Be?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on February 10, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

When I was in law school I took part in a clinic that taught us lawyering skills as an adjunct to the substantive law taught in the other classes. The clinic taught a theory of client counseling that I have moved away from in my actual practice. We were taught to empower clients by explaining the legal consequences of particular choices they might make and based on the information that we provide to leave to the clients to decide how to proceed.

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Topics: trustee advice, estate planning

ABLE Accounts: A Little Deflating

Posted by Karen Mariscal on February 9, 2015

By Karen B. Mariscal

It’s as if the ball was stolen out of our hands at the 1 yard line.

On December 19, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, enabling parents of children with significant disabilities to set aside funds to help pay their children’s expenses, tax-free, and without affecting their eligibility for public benefits. It is set up like a 529 account for the costs of education. The special needs community has been advocating for this for years, and it certainly sounds like a victory. But reading the fine print, it is not clear that these accounts will be of much help to parents or their children with disabilities.

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Topics: achieving a better life experience,, ABLE act

Beneficiaries: By Group or By Person?

Posted by Christina T. Vidoli on February 9, 2015

By Christina T. Vidoli

You want to leave your estate to your kids and grandkids, and you want it divided evenly.
But how?

There are two ways of distributing money -- per stirpes and per capita. You can specify either method in your will, trust, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other estate planning devices. Both are acceptable options when naming beneficiaries, but the possible outcomes can be drastically different from one approach to the other.

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Topics: estate planning, er capita,, per stripes,

Proving Testamentary Capacity: A Sound Mind at the Time of Signing

Posted by Alexandra Lowe on February 4, 2015

By Alexandra Lowe

In In the Matter of the Estate of Fred S. Rosen (Mass. App. Ct. No. 13-P-221, December 30, 2014), the Massachusetts Appeals Court confirms the trial courts finding that Fred S. Rosen had testamentary capacity at the time he signed his will. 

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Topics: massachusetts appeals court, fred s. rosen,

5 Reasons Why Disinheritance is Not a Viable Option for Special Needs Planning

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on February 2, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Some parents of children with special needs choose to disinherit such children for a number of reasons. They recognize that leaving funds directly to such children (who very well may be adults now) could cause a number difficulties. Their children may lose eligibility for important public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income, MassHealth or subsidized housing. In many instances, their children would not be able to manage the funds and would be susceptible to losing the funds to financial predators or simply bad decisionmaking. Other parents reason that their other children will take care of the child with special needs or that the child has no need of funds since public programs are providing for her adequately.

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Topics: special needs planning

SSA and IRS 2015 COLA Numbers

Posted by Christina T. Vidoli on January 30, 2015

By Christina T. Vidoli

Below are some important cost-of-living-adjusted figures for 2015, as issued by the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service:

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How to Protect an Inherited IRA

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 27, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

If you leave a 401(k) plan or individual retirement account (IRA) to your spouse, he will be able to roll it in with her own IRA and it will be subject to the same rules regarding minimum required distributions (MRDs) as apply to his own retirement plans. He'll have to begin taking them in the year after he turns 70 1/2. In addition, he will receive the same creditor protection that his other retirement accounts receive, which is that they are protected from creditors in bankruptcy proceedings.

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Topics: retirement plans, IRAs, family protection trusts, IRA rollovers

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