Planning for Life

Harry S. Margolis

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Don't Ask a Neuropsychologist About Legal Capacity

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 13, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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In it's hopeful article on "Leading an Active Life With a Diagnosis of Dementia," The New York Times correctly describes some of the legal documents we all should have in case we lose cognitive function, including financial powers of attorney and health care directives. But in raising the question of the individual's legal capacity to sign the documents, it suggests that  a clinical evaluation is necessary "to determine whether the client still has the decision-making skills" to execute legal documents. The article quotes a neuropsychologist as saying that "[e]ven mildly impaired persons usually need to be carefully evaluated  before signing legal documents."

I disagree. We almost never take this step.

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Topics: incapacity

How Will We House an Aging Population?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 6, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies has published a report on the challenges of housing our aging population over the next two decades. harvard_jchs_housing_growing_population_cover[1]

The Coming Crisis

Here are some of its findings:

  • The over-65 population will increase from 48 million today to 79 million in 2035.
  • The over-80 population will double from 12 to 24 million.
  • By 2035, one in five Americans will be 65 or over, up from one in seven today.
  • The Joint Center projects that by 2035, 17 million older households will include someone with a mobility disability, 12 million needing with a self-care disability and 27 million with a household activity disability.
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Topics: home care, seniors

Maine to Vote on Universal Home Care Ballot Initiative

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 30, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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Question 1 on Maine's ballot next week, An Act to Establish Universal Home Care for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities, would enact universal free home care for seniors and others with disabilities funded by a 3.8 percent tax on income above $128,400 (in 2018) the threshold over which workers and employers no longer have to pay into the Social Security system. In other words, incomes below that level would be exempt from the tax.

Estimates of how much the tax would raise range from just under $200 million to just over $300 million a year. Only 3.4 percent of Maine taxpayers would be subject to the new tax.

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Topics: home care

Older Couple Ordered to Complete Sale of Nahant Home Despite Claim of Incapacity

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 23, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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In early spring of this year, George and Maureen Burke, a couple in their 70s, agreed to sell their shoreline home in Nahant to Christopher Whitlock and Mary Flannery for $1.075. Soon afterwards, they had cold feet and their attorney sent Whitlock and Flannery's attorney a letter declaring the sale agreement to be null and void because (a) the Burkes' real estate agent had coerced them to sign, (b) Mrs. Burke "was on several medications at the time of signing, and (c) she didn't 'knowingly, voluntarily, or intelligently sign' the Agreement."

Whitlock and Flannery brought suit to enforce the agreement. In Whitlock and Flannery v. Burke and Burke (Essex Sup. Ct. Misc 18-000298, July 19, 2018) the Court finds that Mrs. Burke did understand the agreement and ordered that the Burkes carry out their obligations to complete the sale.

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Topics: incapacity

Strategies for a Full Life with Dementia

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 16, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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A recent article in The New York Times offered some hope for those diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Entitled "Leading an Active Life with a Diagnosis of Dementia," the article featured a woman, Laurie Scherrer, diagnosed with early onset dementia at age 55 who continues to lead an active life.

Steps Toward an Active Life with Dementia

Here are a few of the steps Ms. Scherrer took:

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Topics: dementia, Alzheimer's disease, incapacity

Why the Governor's Council Should be Abolished

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 9, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

Blog

Do you know what the Governor's Council does and who serves as your Governor's Councillor? If not, don't feel bad; most other people don't either.That's why it should be abolished. The elections cannot be democratic if no one knows what they're voting for.

As explained in a recent article on the topic in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, I'm a convert to this position.

“It’s really not very democratic,” Margolis says of the Governor’s Council. “We say the people ought to have a say in who serves as judges, but I don’t think they really do.”

What is the Governor's Council?

The Governor's Council, a survival from colonial times, has eight elected members. Its main role today is to vet nominees for judicial appointments. It also votes on nominees to the parole board as well as on pardons and commutations.

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Home Care Benefits and Risks

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 2, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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In recent years, home care for disabled seniors has grown tremendously with absolutely no regulation. For the most part, this has been good with millions of seniors being able to stay in their own homes as they age. But a recent series of articles in The Boston Globe highlights the risks inherent to the system both to those receiving care and those providing it.

There has been a proliferation of individuals and companies, small and large, either providing in-home care or connecting families with caregivers. Two of the biggest are Home Instead Senior Care, which franchises home care agencies, and Care.com, which has expanded its child care referral services to include senior care as well.

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Topics: home care, Caregivers, elder care

Can an On-Line Note Serve as a Will?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 25, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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What constitutes a will? According to Massachusetts law, which is similar to the law in all states, wills must be in writing and signed by the "testator" and two witnesses.

However, the law also permits other writings to serve if the:

Intent that the document constitute the testator's will can be established by extrinsic evidence.

This means that a separate writing that does not meet all of the traditional requirements of a will may be admitted as a will by the probate court.

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Topics: will, will in massachusetts

Bonazzoli Recommends Program for Dealing with Estate Planning Unknowns

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 21, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis


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I recently wrote a blog post on how often everyone should review their estate plans -- when you're younger, when circumstances change; when you're older, every five years. It just happened that after posting that blog, I had the opportunity to review the new book by my colleague and friend, Vincent E. Bonazzoli, How an Ordinary Lawyer Creates and Sustains an Extraordinary Client Care Program, in which he explains that estate planning is all about planning for unknown future events and circumstances.

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Topics: Estate Planning

Why Didn't Aretha Have a Will?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 18, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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Aretha Franklin was a star and a wise businesswoman. According to her obituary, she demanded payment up front before she performed. She is reported to have died with an estate worth $80 million.

Yet, she had no estate plan. When one of my clients sent me an email asking me why, I turned the question back to her and she responded:

I think that she has some shady lawyers, accountants, and other random business people around her who did not serve her well.

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Topics: will, Estate Planning

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