Planning for Life

Harry S. Margolis

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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: MassHealth, long-term care planning

Using Annuities in MassHealth Planning for Nursing Home Residents

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 4, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Immediate annuities have long been used in long-term care planning as a means of transforming assets that are countable against the limits for MassHealth eligibility into an income stream that does not affect eligibility. This primarily benefits spouses of nursing home residents, but can be used for single nursing home residents as a form of “arbitrage,” in effect to pay the MassHealth rather than the private-pay rates charged by nursing homes. 

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

5 Essential Estate Planning Documents and Why They Matter To You

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 26, 2016

According to LexisNexis, 60% of Americas think everyone should have an estate plan, but only 44% actually have any estate planning instrument in place, such as a will, trust or durable power of attorney. My guess is that at least half of the 44% with estate plans, has outdated documents that they may have put in place when their children were born and now 20, 30 or 40 years later their family and financial situations have changed entirely.

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Topics: Estate Planning

What does it mean to be an agent under a durable power of attorney in Massachusetts?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 14, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Have you been asked to serve as an agent (or "attorney-in-fact" to use the technical term) under a durable power of attorney in Massachusetts, but you're not totally sure about your duties and responsibilities? Then you're not alone.  Here's a primer.

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Topics: guardianship, durable power of attorney, trusts, Estate Planning

How one couple prioritized conflicting estate planning goals

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 8, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

My new clients were an older couple, the wife healthy and the husband, unfortunately, suffering from a progressive neurological disease which confined him to a wheelchair. He needed physical help at the start and end of each day and the level of help, and its cost, was likely to grow as his disease progressed. The couple had their main home in Massachusetts, plus a vacation home in New Hampshire. They had sufficient income and savings to cover their current living expenses, but they could be depleted if the husband needed extensive care over a long period of time. Much of their savings was in tax-deferred retirement accounts.

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Topics: Estate Planning, long-term care planning

Are You Saving to Leave an Inheritance? Why?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 29, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Do you hope to leave your children an inheritance? If so, what sacrifices are you willing to make to assure that you do so. Are you working longer or scrimping on spending for yourself? If so, why? Haven't you raised your children and perhaps paid expensive college tuitions? Shouldn't they be able to stand on their own two feet?

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

Who Should Get Your Stuff When You Die? And Who Should Decide?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 26, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

In the United States, we get to decide who gets our assets when we die, our children, our spouse, charities, or our hairdresser. The only exception is that absent a prenuptial agreement, spouses have the right to "elect against the will" to get at least a minimum inheritance. This "spousal share" in Massachusetts is relatively meager, $25,000 plus an income interest in half of the remaining estate if the decedent had no surviving children or grandchildren or an income interest in a third of the remaining estate if the deceased spouse did have surviving children or grandchildren. No one else has any rights to the estate at all.

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Topics: Estate Planning, will in massachusetts

Massachusetts SJC Overturns Pfannenstiehl, Affirming Use of Asset Protection Trusts

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 9, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

On August 8th in the case of Pfannenstiehl v. Pfannenstiehl the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court unanimously overturned a lower court decision that had ordered that assets in an irrevocable discretionary trust created by the husband's father be split in a divorce. The SJC in this decision upholds the use of trusts to shelter assets for future generations.

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Topics: trusts, asset protection

So You've Been Appointed Trustee, Now What?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 3, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Congratulations.  You have been appointed trustee of a trust.  That is a strong vote of confidence in your judgment and probity.  Unfortunately, it is also a major responsibility.  Following is a short description of your duties.

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Topics: trusts, supplemental needs trusts

Beta Test the Latest Innovation in Estate Planning

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 20, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Up until now, you've had two options for your estate planning: Go to a do-it-yourself site like LegalZoom or work with an attorney who will customize your plan to meet your circumstances. Most people are afraid to fly solo online and many feel that they do not need the one-on-one attention, or cost, of an attorney. That's why we are creating a third option.

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Topics: Estate Planning, will in massachusetts, trusts

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