Planning for Life

Harry S. Margolis

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5@55: The Essential Estate Planning Documents

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 29, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

What estate planning documents do you need and by when do you need them? Brooklyn elder law and estate planning attorney Judith D. Grimaldi along with her co-author, Joanne Seminara, answer this question in their new book, 5@55: The 5 Essential Documents You Need by Age 55. They make the case that for baby boomers, now's the time.

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Topics: baby boomers, Estate Planning

Does Pfannenstiehl Case Undermine Asset Protection in Massachusetts?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 22, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

An interesting court decision with an interesting name may undermine the efforts of parents to provide for their children and grandchildren while protecting their inheritance from lawsuits and in the event of divorce. In Pfannenstiehl v. Pfannenstiehl (Mass. App. Ct., Nos. 13-P-906, 13-P-686 & 13-P-1385, August 27, 2015), the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled that a portion of a trust created by the parents of Curt Pfannenstiehl for his benefit and that of his siblings would be considered as a marital asset in his divorce from Diane Pfannenstiehl. This ruling, which undermines centuries of established trust law, was based in part on the equities of the situation and in part on a misunderstanding of wording commonly used in trusts.

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Topics: trusts, asset protection, divorce

Why We Should Keep Baby Boomers on the Job

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 15, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, aged now between 51 and 69, are retiring in droves, 10,000 a day by one measure, and will continue to do so for the next two decades. Unfortunately, neither they nor our national economy can afford this. The economy needs skilled and experienced workers, even if some may not be totally up-to-speed on the latest social media phenomena. And few baby boomers have sufficient savings to see themselves through a long retirement. Those savings are more important than ever since very few baby boomer retirees will have pensions.

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Topics: baby boomers, social security

Should Non-Lawyers Own Law Firms?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 1, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Under the professional ethical rules governing the practice of law, law firms cannot have non-lawyer owners or investors. The theory behind this restriction is that nonlawyer owners would not be bound by the professional rules of lawyers and could influence their lawyer employees to violate those rules. Of course, lawyers already work for nonlawyers as in house general counsel to corporations and non-profit organizations, but in those cases their employer is also their client, so no conflicts arise.

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Topics: Legal profession, Estate Planning

Steinberg Laments Lack of Wheelchair Access in Boston

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 25, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

In an article in The Boston Globe Magazine attorney Carol R. Steinberg asks Boston and Massachusetts to get real about making their sidewalks and businesses accessible. Due to her multiple sclerosis, Steinberg must use a wheelchair to get around. Her family recently vacationed in Barcelona where she had no trouble navigating the streets and tourist destinations, in large part due to changes it put in place when it hosted the 1992 summer Olympics.

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Topics: the accessible home, disability

10 Questions to Ask an Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 11, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

You need to consult with an elder law attorney for either advance long-term care planning for yourself or advance long-term care planning for a loved one. You have a few names of possible attorneys that you got from friends, relatives, other advisors and the Internet. How do you determine which one to hire?

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Topics: MassHealth planning, long-term care planning, Legal profession

6 Stories Tell the Unpredictability and Challenges of Aging

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 4, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

John Leland, reporter for The New York Times has been following six elderly New Yorkers this year as they face the challenges of aging. In some ways, New York is an ideal place to get old since services are easy to come by -- for instance, groceries and restaurants deliver. But in others, we learn, New York creates its own difficulties. Let's meet the six older New Yorkers.

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Topics: long-term care planning, growth of elderly population, assisted living

Obesity Decline a Good Omen for Elder Care

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 28, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Years ago, I interviewed Dr. Robert Butler, the father of gerontology, for a podcast series I had at the time. With complete self-interest, I asked how he thought Baby Boomers would fare as they aged, fully expecting a bright future as the result of our athleticism and the benefits of good health care. I was surprised at his response that Baby Boomers as a group could look forward to a miserable old age due to obesity.

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Topics: long-term care planning, baby boomers

Incentive Trusts: Long Arm of the Dead?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 14, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Many affluent parents are concerned about the effect of leaving any wealth to their children and grandchildren. In some instances, they fear that the recipients will misspend the funds on drugs, fancy cars or failing businesses. In other cases, their fear is simply that their children will simply lose their drive to achieve and overcome barriers that may present themselves if there's no financial necessity to do so. (See my blog on Should You Stiff Your Kids?)

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Topics: Estate Planning, Grandchildren

Should You Disinherit Your Kids?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 7, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, George Lucas and even Sting won't be giving their millions and billions to their children. Instead, the bulk of their estates will be going to charity. According to an article on CNBC.com, this is not because they don't love their children or just because they think that there are others in the world more in need of their support, but also because they don't want to undermine their children's initiative. Apparently Bill and Melinda Gates, who are worth $79 billion, plan to leave each of their children $10 million, certainly enough to live on, but not enough to purchase several mansions and a Lear jet.

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Topics: Estate Planning, Grandchildren

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