Planning for Life

Harry S. Margolis

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Benson, Bloom and Margolis are (Still) Super Lawyers

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on December 1, 2016

Margolis & Bloom’s Rebecca J. Benson, Jeffrey A. Bloom and Harry S. Margolis have again been named among the 17 Massachusetts Super Lawyers in elder law and 30 in New England. Just 5 percent of lawyers are given this designation.

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Topics: super lawyers

Is Anyone Entitled to an Inheritance?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 30, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

David Karofsky of the Transition Consulting Group, who advises family businesses on succession planning, recently wrote about cases of entitlement he has run across in his business and elsewhere. They include:

The woman who was overheard talking on her cellphone about her father who had more than enough money with his three houses. She and her siblings, she said, had to take control of his finances so that he did not "waste" them before they got passed down to her generation.

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Topics: Estate Planning, estate taxes

What Does a Trump Presidency Mean to Estate and Long-Term Care Planning?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 22, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

The election of Donald Trump along with Republican control of both houses of Congress undoubtedly will impact tax and benefit laws that affect citizens in their personal lives and in their estate and long-term care planning. The question is how? We can't answer for certain since during his campaign the president-elect stayed away from specific policy proposals. But there's still a lot we can glean both from what he has said and from Republican policies, especially those of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. On the domestic front, Ryan appears much more radical than Trump in many ways.

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Topics: Medicare, social security, MassHealth, capital gains taxes, capital gains, estate taxes, Medicaid

The Massachusetts Estate Tax on Out-of-State Real Estate: Conflict, Quandary, and New Court Ruling

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 22, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

If a Massachusetts resident dies owning real estate outside of the state or the country, can Massachusetts tax it in your estate? If you look at Massachusetts law, the answer is "yes." This is because the Massachusetts estate tax is calculated as the federal estate tax credit that was available under the federal estate tax in place back in 2000. Since the federal taxable estate includes all the decedent's property wherever held, the Massachusetts tax does as well.

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Topics: Probate Estate Administration, estate taxes

Explaining the Inexplicable: The Massachusetts Estate Tax and Gifting

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 17, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

As you may know, the threshold for taxing estates in Massachusetts is $1 million, much less than the current $5.45 million threshold for federal estate taxes. In addition, unlike the federal estate tax which only taxes the excess over the threshold, if an estate exceeds $1 million the entire amount above $40,000 is taxed. Fortunately, the rate is substantially less, ranging from 0.8% to 16%, whereas the federal rate is 40%.

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Topics: Estate Planning, estate taxes

Demented Patient Liable for Injuries He Causes

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 15, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

In Mary Ellen Gioia v. Richard D. and Ann L. Ratner, the Essex County superior court in Massachusetts refuses to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a registered nurse who claims she was injured by a patient in her care. She brought the suit against the patient, Richard Ratner, and his wife and health care agent, Ann Ratner. Judge Diane M. Kottmyer rules that the suit against Mr. Ratner can move forward but dismisses the claim against his wife.

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Topics: caregiving, dementia, incapacity, seniors, deficit, hospital care, elder law

Is Your Trust Subject to Massachusetts Income Tax?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 8, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Is your trust subject to Massachusetts income taxes? Probably it is. But probably it also pays no income tax so it doesn't matter. I'll explain the reasons why below.

In contrast, the 35 trusts in question in the case of Bank of America, N.A., vs. Commissioner of Revenue (SJC-11995, July 11, 2016), do have to pay income taxes. The Bank of America argued that when it acts as trustee its trusts should not be subject to Massachusetts income tax because (1) as a corporation it's not a "natural person" and (2) it doesn't have sufficient nexus with Massachusetts to be considered an "inhabitant" of the state for this purpose. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in this decision disagrees, upholding the decision of the Appellate Tax Board to tax the income of these trusts.

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Topics: trusts, income taxes

Case Illustrates, but Rejects, Doctrine of Merger in Trust Law

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 25, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

In the case of Mond v. Pitts (Mass. App. Ct. 15-P-686, Aug. 19, 2016), the Massachusetts Appeals Court corrected an erroneous decision involving two trusts created by Lorenzo Pitts, Sr., who passed away in 2009. Lorenzo Sr. created the Esperanza Trust and the Fort Hill Trust, both of which held real estate in Roxbury. While the trusts had a second trustee and at one point the second trustee also owned 1% of one of the trusts, during his life, Lorenzo Sr. became the sole  trustee and sole lifetime beneficiary of both trusts. The trusts provided that at his death, "the beneficiaries shall be Lorenzo Pitts, Jr. and Robert Pitts, in equal shares." The trusts further directed that the trusts would terminate and that the property be sold and distributed "among the beneficiaries if living."

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Topics: trusts, Estate Planning

What's a Trust and Why are There So Many Different Kinds?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 18, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

A trust is a legal entity that permits one or more people -- the "trustee" or "trustees" -- to manage property for the benefit of other people -- the "beneficiaries." The third actor in a trust is the person who creates it -- the "grantor" or "donor." To confuse things a bit further the same person can be a grantor, trustee and beneficiary, but he can't be the only one in all three roles. And the property in the trust can be just about anything you can own -- real estate, bank accounts, investments, or artwork.

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Topics: special needs planning, Estate Planning

MassHealth Planning and Real Estate

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 11, 2016

I. MassHealth Eligibility and the Family Home

A. Long-Term Care Planning

For all practical purposes, in the United States the only "insurance" plan for long-term institutional care is Medicaid (called “MassHealth” in Massachusetts). Medicare only pays for approximately 20 percent of nursing home care in the United States. Private insurance pays for even less. The result is that most people pay out of their own pockets for long-term care until they become eligible for MassHealth. While Medicare is an entitlement program, MassHealth is a form of welfare -- or at least that's how it began. So to be eligible, you must become "impoverished" under the program's guidelines.

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Topics: long-term care planning, MassHealth

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