Planning for Life

Karen B. Mariscal

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“I’d be Honored”: Paving the Way  For Your Special Needs Trustee - Preparing a Memorandum of Intent

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on October 26, 2017

iStock-587221754.jpgWhen our autistic son was 8 years old, he was a holy terror.  That was true when he was younger than 8 and older than 8 (he settled down around the time of puberty, for which I am eternally grateful), but I am focusing on age 8 right now. We had two younger boys as well, then ages 5 and 4.  So when I asked my sister Laura whether she would be the guardian of our children, and take over if something happened to my husband and me, it was with great trepidation.  Laura knew full well what was going on in our house, and how difficult a request I was making.  She responded, without hesitation, “I’d be honored.”  I have tears in my eyes as I write this, as it never fails to get to me, even 17 years later.

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Topics: trusts, special needs planning, Intellectually Disabled, autism, disability, Special Needs Child, Caregivers, Special Needs Trust

A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents -- and Ourselves

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on October 3, 2017

By Karen B. Mariscal, Esq.

In A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents -- and Ourselves, 41wqspmOZNL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgJane Gross, a former New York Times reporter, writes a page-turner about how it feels to take care of an aging parent, while providing very valuable information about elder care. The journey begins when Gross’s mother, a long-time widow in her mid-80s, becomes too frail to live alone in Florida. Gross recognizes it’s time for her mother to undertake a “reverse migration” back to New York City to be near her and her brother. 

But Gross was completely unprepared for the crises that followed when she enrolled her mother in an assisted-living facility: the pleading phone calls, the too-numerous late-night emergency-room visits (due not to true emergencies but to bureaucratic regulations), and the medical tests that stretched into all-day ordeals while Gross was trying to hold down a full-time job.  Many of the problems could have been prevented had Gross understood the system, and she describes her mistakes in detail, with honesty and humility.

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Topics: Aging Population

Housing for Your Special Needs Child: A Legal and Personal Perspective

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on November 19, 2016

By Karen B. Mariscal

Most parents of special needs children keep their kids at home with them through the parents’ 40s, 50s, or even longer. Only about 15 percent of DDS (Department of Developmental Services) clients receive housing from the state when they turn 22, and those tend to be the most difficult cases – where the person cannot live safely on his own or with his parents. The rest are left to their own resources when it comes to housing. Their parents need know their options and think creatively about how best to provide for their loved ones as they age.

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Topics: special needs planning

Housing: Is My Intellectually Disabled Child Likely to be Entitled to a State-Funded Group Home?

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on October 22, 2016

When planning for the future, one of the questions that parents of intellectually disabled children will need to consider is where the child is likely to live as an adult, and who will pay for it. If the child will need life-long support and will not able to live on his or her own, some governmental assistance may be provided, but how much?

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Topics: special needs planning

Personal Care Attendants: Valuable Help for Parents of Disabled Children

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on October 17, 2016

MassHealth funds a Personal Care Attendant (a/k/a Personal Care Assistant), or PCA, program in order to help recipients with long-term disabilities manage their own in-home day-to-day personal care. Under this program, a PCA is hired at a rate of $14.12 an hour (in 2016) to physically assist with both activities of daily living, or ADLs (mobility, bathing, dressing, passive range-of-motion exercises, taking medications, eating, and toileting), and instrumental activities of daily living, or IADLs (laundry, meal preparation and clean up, shopping, housekeeping, traveling to medical appointments, and other special needs).

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Topics: special needs planning

Housing Models for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities Who Are Not in State-Supported Housing

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on October 8, 2016

The majority of adult children with significant intellectual disabilities live with their parents or other family members through the child’s 40s, and often 50s. (For purposes of this article, we will refer to the provider as the parent, and the adult with special needs as the child, although this article applies to siblings and other relations as well.) Only about a third of all intellectually disabled citizens in Massachusetts are served by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) receive housing provided by the state. These people -- tending to be the older or more serious cases -- are considered Priority One for housing by DDS. All other DDS clients are either Priority Two on No Priority. Click here for a description of state-supported housing.

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Topics: special needs planning

Funding a Special Needs Trust With Life Insurance

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on September 26, 2016

Leaving your special needs child with enough money to pay for their needs after you are gone can be a daunting task. The costs of providing a home and care exceed the resources of most families. Often a good solution is to fund a special or supplemental needs trust (“SNT”) with life insurance. A parent can take out a life insurance policy on his or her life to ensure that once the parent is gone, monies will be available to care for the special needs child.

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Topics: special needs planning

Funding Your Revocable Living Trust: Re-Titling Assets and Re-Naming Beneficiaries

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on September 12, 2016

We see it all the time – people pay good money to set up a trust in order to avoid probate and minimize estate taxes, and then they fail to fund the trust. Without any assets in it, the trust will fulfill only some of its potential benefit.

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Topics: trusts, Estate Planning

WellesleyWeston Magazine Publishes Mariscal Opinion

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on September 5, 2016

Margolis & Bloom would like to thank the WellesleyWeston Magazine for publishing our opinion on the need for legal accessory apartments for the disabled and elderly in Massachusetts.  The piece, Keeping our Special Needs Children and Elderly Close, was written by Karen B. Mariscal, Esq., with help from Cathy Boyle of Autism Housing Pathways.
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Topics: special needs

Laughter is the Best Medicine:  Humor in the Special Needs Parenting Trenches

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on August 23, 2016

There are so many funny things about raising a disabled child. Often the joke is on me. Like how I am always weirdly and inappropriately concerned about whether my child “wins” at a Special Olympics meet. My son, who is severely autistic, doesn’t even know he is in a race. He still occasionally comes in first, and when that happens, I parade him around with his gold medal for days, so that I can bask in the glory. Again, he has no idea what the medal means, and in fact he doesn’t really appreciate the attention, but apparently that is irrelevant.

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Topics: special needs planning

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