Planning for Life

Harry S. Margolis

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New Study Reports Decreased Nursing Home Risk

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on December 16, 2014

By Harry S. Margolis

The Boston College Center for Retirement Research has released the results of a new analysis which reports a higher than previously-reported likelihood that Americans over age 65 will need long-term care, but a lower likelihood that they will spend a long time in a nursing home. The study, Long-Term Care: How Big a Risk?, compares recent data to a 1999 report and finds that:

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Topics: nursing homes

The Effect of the Market on Retirement Solvency

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on December 9, 2014

By Harry S. Margolis

While the ups and downs of the market can have a favorable or deleterious effect on savings and investments while we're saving for retirement, they have a much larger effect on solvency during retirement. This was illustrated by financial planners Amy Lampert and Richard Belofsky of The Bulfinch Group speaking at our firm's monthly First Monday Lunch for Professionals.

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Topics: Retirement Planning

Black Heirlooms: How Lack of Estate Planning Tore One Family Apart

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on December 2, 2014

By Harry S. Margolis

In a short documentary, Amanda Brown describes how disputes over elder care for her 86-year-old grandmother, Edna Mae "Mee-Mah" Royal, after her stroke tore her formerly tightly-knit family apart. As a result of the split with three of her eight children on one side and five on the other, siblings are not talking to each other and grandchildren are no longer speaking with aunts and uncles. In addition, some families stand to inherit family real estate and others do not.

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Topics: family dispute

What are Trust Protectors and Should You Have One?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 25, 2014

By Harry S. Margolis

Trust protectors have become a more common feature of irrevocable trusts in recent years because they offer flexibility and oversight. Having originated with off-shore trusts that are used primarily to protect assets from creditors, trust protectors are now found in special needs and domestic asset protection trusts and sometimes in trusts used for tax planning purposes.

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Topics: trusts, Estate Planning

7 Ways a Donor Advised Fund Can Help Your Charitable Giving

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 11, 2014

Donor advised funds are charitable foundations that commit to following the advice of donors in distributing their accounts to charities. Many community foundations, such as The Boston Foundation, manage donor advised funds for their contributors. The contributor takes the charitable tax deduction in the year she contributes to the fund even though she may not pass the funds on to charities for several years. Some have questioned this as a public policy matter, but it has certain benefits for the donor.

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Topics: Estate Planning

Are We Elder Law or Elder Care Attorneys?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 4, 2014

Since the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) was founded more than 25 years ago, lawyers who work with seniors have been trying to brand themselves as "elder law" attorneys. Despite this effort, more and more often I hear us referred to as "elder care" attorneys. "Elder law attorneys" still gets almost four times as many results in Google than "elder care attorneys," but that doesn't seem like a lot when there has been no effort made to promote the second term, though the results overlap significantly.

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Topics: long-term care planning

MassHealth Trust Database On Line

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 28, 2014

Previous blog posts have reported on recent MassHealth cases involving irrevocable trusts and the ongoing attacks by MassHealth on trusts that were acceptable until recently. We linked to court and fair hearing decisions on a website created by Plymouth elder law practitioner Brian Barreira. Attorney Barreira has created the Massachusetts Medicaid Trust Law site at to share 

5809877fair hearing decisions, court decisions, legal briefs and other material submitted by elder law practitioners throughout the Commonwealth. Or, as he explains it:

The Massachusetts Medicaid Trust Law blog has been prepared as a resource for Massachusetts citizens and their attorneys who are experiencing denials on MassHealth applications that include irrevocable trusts.

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Topics: MassHealth planning

Penny Wise and Pound Foolish on Professional Fees?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 21, 2014

We have a client whose husband recently passed away unexpectedly. He left her in a difficult financial situation that includes claims by both the IRS and the Massachusetts Division of Revenue (DOR) for back taxes. Shortly prior to her husband's death, they had negotiated a settlement with the DOR which reduced the claim. They hadn't paid the reduced claim yet because money was short.

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But Not All MassHealth Trust Cases Go the Right Way

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 14, 2014

We recently reported on a superior court decision upholding an irrevocable trust designed to shelter assets as part of long-term care planning. (Click here to read the blog post.) Unfortunately, we have become aware of another decision upholding one of MassHealth arguments against irrevocable trusts, one we felt was so contrary to established trust law that no court would ever go along with it.

In Rita E. Sands vs. Commonwealth of Massachuesetts, Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Office of Medicaid (Suffolk Sup. Ct. CA No. SUCV 2013-3537-A, April 28, 2014), Judge Douglas H. Wilkins holds that all of the funds in an irrevocable income-only trust are available to the trust's grantor because the trustee may purchase an annuity, thus converting unavailable principal to available income.

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Topics: long-term care planning

MassHealth Reversed in Another Trust Case

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 10, 2014

Over the last couple of years, MassHealth has been rejecting irrevocable trusts containing terms that it had accepted up until recently. Since many seniors use irrevocable trusts to shelter assets as part of long-term care planning, this has resulted in much uncertainty and cost due to the need for administrative and court appeals. Fortunately, as more cases have gone through the lengthy appeal process litigants are having increasing success in defending the trusts. We can report that my partner, Jeffrey A. Bloom, recently was successful in defending our standard irrevocable trust instrument at an administrative fair hearing.

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

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