Planning for Life

The Estate Tax: Going, Going, Gone?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on December 5, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

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Both the House and Senate versions of the tax bill would increase the exemption for estate taxes from the current $5.5 million for individuals (and $11 million for married couples) to $11 million (and $22 million, respectively). The House bill would ultimately eliminate the tax all together in 2024. This is the culmination of a long-term campaign against the estate tax which began more than two decades ago when the threshold for taxation was just $600,000.

Already, the result is that only about 5,000 estates per year pay estate taxes, down from 52,000 in 2000.

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Topics: estate taxes

Can You Name More Than One Person on a Health Care Proxy?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 28, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

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We advise all of our clients to name an agent under a health care proxy to make health care decisions for them when and if they cannot do so for themselves. Many clients want to name more than one person to this role.

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Topics: health-care decision making, proxy

What Happens If Your Trustee Can't Serve?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 14, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

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So you've appointed your brother-in-law as the trustee for a trust for your children in case you die before they reach age 25. Or he and his wife have appointed you as trustee on a special needs trust for their daughter with Down's syndrome. Or, finally, your mother has her assets in a revocable trust. In any of these situations, what happens if the trustee becomes incapacitated?

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Topics: trustee

Choosing a Trustee for A Child’s Special Needs Trust

Posted by Karen Mariscal on November 7, 2017

by Karen B. Mariscal

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Topics: trusts, special needs planning, special needs, Special Needs Child, Special Needs Trust, trustee

What Would the House Tax Bill Mean for Seniors?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 7, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

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Perhaps we shouldn't be concerned with the House Republicans' proposed tax bill. With no Democratic support, a slim Republican majority in both houses, and a somewhat more moderate Republican majority in the Senate, it is unlikely to become law in its current form, if at all. On the other hand, the Republicans need a victory and will do everything they can to pass the law in something close to its current form.

So, what does it mean for seniors and people with disabilities? The two largest impacts would probably result from the projected loss of tax revenue and the elimination of the medical expense deduction.

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Topics: Medicare, income taxes, seniors, Medicaid

Assisted Living Facilities Are Subject to Landlord Tenant Law

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 26, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

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Assisted living facilities often require that new residents pay a one-time "community fee" as well as last month's rent before moving in. A resident of one of Benchmark Senior Living's 29 facilities in Massachusetts recently sued the company alleging that this practice violates protections for tenants. Benchmark responded that as an assisted living facility it is not subject to the same rules. This has long been a claim of the assisted living industry, and it was refuted by the judge in this case.

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Topics: assisted living regulations, assisted living

“I’d be Honored”: Paving the Way  For Your Special Needs Trustee - Preparing a Memorandum of Intent

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on October 26, 2017

iStock-587221754.jpgWhen our autistic son was 8 years old, he was a holy terror.  That was true when he was younger than 8 and older than 8 (he settled down around the time of puberty, for which I am eternally grateful), but I am focusing on age 8 right now. We had two younger boys as well, then ages 5 and 4.  So when I asked my sister Laura whether she would be the guardian of our children, and take over if something happened to my husband and me, it was with great trepidation.  Laura knew full well what was going on in our house, and how difficult a request I was making.  She responded, without hesitation, “I’d be honored.”  I have tears in my eyes as I write this, as it never fails to get to me, even 17 years later.

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Topics: trusts, special needs planning, Intellectually Disabled, autism, disability, Special Needs Child, Caregivers, Special Needs Trust

Risking Old Age in America

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 17, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

Almost 30 years ago, my father wrote a book titled Risking Old Age In America, which described the plight of seniors in the United States who faced severe income gaps, limited assistance for care at home and deplorable nursing homes. A lot has changed since then, but many of the same challenges persist or have gotten worse.IMG_2097.jpg

With the advent of the assisted living industry, there's an alternative to nursing homes. Home care services have expanded as has government assistance to pay for home care. Nursing homes have improved, and seniors enter them later in life when they need more care, meaning fewer are institutionalized for year after year.

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Topics: Retirement Planning

Accounting Firm Gets into the Practice of Law: Is this the Future for the Legal Profession?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 10, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

The recent announcement the Big Four accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC)iStock-818880716.jpg that it is opening a law firm in Washington, D.C., could be the harbinger of revolutionary change in the practice of law. In the United States, law firms operate under archaic rules that limit law firm ownership to lawyers. This is why all law firms are partnerships rather than corporations. It's also why most law firms are under capitalized since they can't raise money from non-attorney investors or have an IPO like other businesses. As a result, they do not have the resources to invest in the systems and personnel that would permit them to modernize more quickly and provide more efficient and cost effective services to clients.

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Topics: Legal profession

A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents -- and Ourselves

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on October 3, 2017

By Karen B. Mariscal, Esq.


 
In A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents -- and Ourselves, 41wqspmOZNL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgJane Gross, a former New York Times reporter, writes a page-turner about how it feels to take care of an aging parent, while providing very valuable information about elder care. The journey begins when Gross’s mother, a long-time widow in her mid-80s, becomes too frail to live alone in Florida. Gross recognizes it’s time for her mother to undertake a “reverse migration” back to New York City to be near her and her brother. 

But Gross was completely unprepared for the crises that followed when she enrolled her mother in an assisted-living facility: the pleading phone calls, the too-numerous late-night emergency-room visits (due not to true emergencies but to bureaucratic regulations), and the medical tests that stretched into all-day ordeals while Gross was trying to hold down a full-time job.  Many of the problems could have been prevented had Gross understood the system, and she describes her mistakes in detail, with honesty and humility.

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Topics: Aging Population

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