Planning for Life

Elizabeth Stepakoff

Recent Posts

Favorable Decision from Appeals Court on Irrevocable Trusts

Posted by Elizabeth Stepakoff on April 19, 2016

By Sarah Foster

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Topics: trusts, MassHealth planning, MassHealth

The History of Autism – A Disease, a Disability, or Another Mode of Normalcy?

Posted by Elizabeth Stepakoff on February 1, 2016

By Karen B. Mariscal

We realize it is a little odd to review a book review.  But Steven Shapin’s review of the new autism book, In a Different Key: The Story of Autism by John Donvan and Caren Zucker, published in the January 25, 2016 issue of The New Yorker, here, is exceptional.  Shapin uses his review to provide a brief survey of the history of autism, and how we have come to understand it, that is the best we have seen.  Shapin explains that a major focus of Donvan and Zucker’s book is on autism in the family and the changing historical role of parents of autistic children.  Here is an excerpt from the review:

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Topics: autism, special needs

Exciting New Proposal to Help With Housing for Elderly and Disabled in Massachusetts

Posted by Elizabeth Stepakoff on January 25, 2016

By Karen B. Mariscal

Given the cost of living in Massachusetts, we need to think creatively about how to make sure the elderly and disabled can afford to stay in their home communities, close to their families.  Encouragingly, a bill has been introduced in the State House to create the Disabled and Elderly Accessory Apartment Loan Program, which would allow a homeowner to take out a low-cost loan from the state to create an accessory apartment of up to two bedrooms, provided a person with a disability or a senior citizen residesin the new unit or in the original part of the home.

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Topics: seniors, housing policy ,, disability

Court Says Irrevocable Trust Countable Due to “Use and Occupancy” Right

Posted by Elizabeth Stepakoff on January 22, 2016

By Sarah Foster

In a concerning new decision, Nadeau v. Thorn, a Superior Court judge finds that MassHealth correctly deemed the property in an irrevocable trust as a countable asset due to the fact that the irrevocable trust contained a right to “use and occupy” any property contained in the trust.

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Topics: trusts, long-term care planning, MassHealth

ABLE Act Closer to Becoming a Reality

Posted by Elizabeth Stepakoff on December 17, 2015

By Karen B. Mariscal 

It’s going to happen.  We have been waiting since the ABLE Act was enacted almost a year ago to learn how the ABLE Acts accounts were actually going to work.  Now the IRS has issued new guidelines that resolve our basic concerns, and it looks like ABLE Accounts will soon be a helpful tool in the special needs arsenal. The regulations clarify several confusing parts of the ABLE legislation and provide a road map for practitioners dealing with ABLE accounts and SSI benefits. The regulations, POMS Section SI 01130.740, can be read here.

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Topics: special needs planning

Understanding Desperation: Parents of Special Needs Children Who Do the Unthinkable

Posted by Elizabeth Stepakoff on December 10, 2015

By Karen B. Mariscal

On Sunday, December 6, the New York Times Magazine published a heartbreaking article, here, about Frank Stack of Elmhurst, Illinois, the father of two severely disabled adult children, and the husband of a dying wife. Over Labor Day weekend in 2014, Frank shot all three in the head and then killed himself.  It is clear from everyone who knew him that Frank thought he was acting out of love.  His children had very low intelligence and needed constant care, and he was getting to the point where he could no longer look after them.  Frank was 82 and had a bad back.  He had spent 50 years caring for his disabled children.  Although they recently had been living in group homes, Frank remained very much involved. 

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Topics: caregiving, special needs

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