Planning for Life

Harry S. Margolis

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Some Sobering Statistics, Especially for Baby Boomers

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 24, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

For most people, putting off estate planning until they're older does not present a problem. The odds are that they'll be alive and healthy for the foreseeable future. But for Baby Boomers, these odds are changing rapidly.

I developed the following (somewhat morbid) table from Social Security Administration actuarial data (https://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/table4c6.html) to reflect the chances of dying in any 10-year period. As you can see, it is quite small before age 50, especially for women, but then increases dramatically, essentially doubling each decade.

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Topics: baby boomers, Estate Planning

Trust Reformation Causes MassHealth Penalty

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 3, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

The Massachusetts Court of Appeals in Needham v. Director of the Office of Medicaid (Mass. App. Ct. 14-P-182, October 20, 2015) rules that the reformation of a trust causes a period of ineligibility for MassHealth coverage of nursing home care.

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Topics: trusts, long-term care planning, nursing homes, MassHealth

What to Do About Medicare Observation Status

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 27, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

As we have reported before, hospitals are more and more frequently designating patients as being in the facility for observation only without admitting them as full hospital patients. The problem with this has to do with the source of payment under Medicare and ultimately whether subsequent care in a skilled nursing facility will be Medicare covered.

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Topics: Medicare, residents rights

Organ Donation Saves Lives - Massachusetts

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 20, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Ill patients die every day waiting for an organ transplant. Even more continue to live curtailed lives. According to the New England Organ Bank, there are 120,000 Americans are waiting for organs right now. More than 6,000 die each year waiting for a transplant. The death of one person who has signed up as an organ donor can save seven lives through donated organs and many more through donated tissue.

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Topics: special needs planning, Estate Planning, anatomical gift

Why Are Durable Powers of Attorney So Long?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 13, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Durable powers of attorney, as well as other legal documents, seem to go on for many more pages than necessary. This especially seems odd in the case of durable powers of attorney which are simply delegations of legal rights and powers from one person to another. Why can't I simply say:

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Topics: Estate Planning

How to Fleece an Estate . . . or Giving Lawyers a Bad Name

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 6, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

A Boston estate planning attorney recently received a public reprimand from the Board of Bar Overseers (BBO) for overcharging an estate and stretching out its administration for more than seven years. In 2003, Kenneth L. Harvey, an attorney with Holland & Knight in Boston, met with an elderly client and two of her sons. The client executed a will and a trust naming Attorney Harvey as trustee and executor. She passed away later that year.

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Topics: Legal profession, Estate Planning, probate

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

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