Planning for Life

A Tale of Two Americas

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 21, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, a look at the US economy reflects that it's the best of times for some Americans and the worst for others. We've heard a lot about increasing inequality with the top 1 percent of citizens getting a bigger and bigger share of income and wealth, but as economist Doug Poutasse explained in a presentation at our June First Monday lunch, some cities and regions in the US are doing much better than others. Fortunately for us (except in terms of housing costs), the Boston metropolitan area is one of those more dynamic regions.

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Topics: housing policy ,

Victory for Special Needs Trusts and Section 8 in DeCambre

Posted by Karen Mariscal on June 20, 2016

By Karen B. Mariscal

On June 14th,  the First Circuit in the seminal (and very local) case DeCambre v. Brookline Housing Authority, reversed the decision of the lower court, and held that distributions of principal from a special needs trust are NOT counted as income for purposes of Section 8 calculations.  This is the correct decision, in our view, and a significant victory for the disabled population, with nation-wide implications. 

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Topics: special needs planning, housing policy ,, supplemental needs trusts

Get On It! The Centralized Section 8 Waiting List

Posted by Karen Mariscal on June 14, 2016

By Karen Mariscal

On the day your intellectually disabled child turns 18, give yourself a birthday present – put him or her on the Section 8 waiting list.  The Section 8 housing choice voucher program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.  In the Boston area it usually takes 8-10 years to get a voucher, starting from the day you first submit the pre-application. 

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Topics: special needs planning, housing policy ,, special needs

Beware Your Old Bypass Trust

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 7, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Very few people need to worry about federal estate taxes today with the threshold for taxation now at $5.45 million (in 2016) and surviving spouses permitted to add on the unused portion of their deceased spouse's credit through "portability." Yet many people have estate tax planning trusts put in place when the threshold was much lower and before portability was enacted. As recently as 2003 the threshold was $1 million and before 1998 it was just $600,000.

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Topics: trusts, Estate Planning, capital gains taxes

A  Long Bright Future: What Will You Do with Your Extra 30 Years?

Posted by Karen Mariscal on May 31, 2016

By Karen B. Mariscal

According to Stanford Professor Laura L. Carstensen Carstensen, the 20th century bequeathed us a fabulous gift:  an average of 30 more years of life!  Life expectancy at birth is now 78, whereas in the early 1900s it was only about 50.

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Topics: Retirement Planning

Little-Known Social Security Benefit for Parents of Disabled Children

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on May 17, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

One of our clients recently brought to our attention a Social Security benefit that was news to us. He and his wife care for their adult daughter with a disability in their home. Our client retired and began receiving Social Security benefits. As a result, his daughter was able to drop her Supplemental Security Income and switch over to Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), a much better benefit for a number of reasons.

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Topics: social security, disability

See the US Population Age Before Your Eyes

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on May 10, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Check out the dynamic graph below that represents the US age distribution from 1933 to 2100. It starts as a narrow pyramid with a relatively even age distribution narrowing as it gets to older ages. Then it takes on an arrowhead shape as the dearth of births during the Depression begins to work its way up through the ages.

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Topics: growth of elderly population

Bowie Yes, Prince No: More Lessons from Celebrity Estates

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on May 3, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

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Topics: Estate Planning

The Future of Law According to LegalZoom

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on April 26, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

I recently heard Chas Rampenthal, the general counsel of LegalZoom, the legal forms site, speak at Suffolk University Law School on how the practice of law needs to be modernized and made more efficient, accessible and affordable. He joined many commentators, most notably Richard Susskind who wrote The End of Lawyers?, in describing the practice of law as being behind the times, lawyers crafting single solutions for individual clients, which by its nature is expensive and inefficient.

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Topics: Legal profession

Expanded Estate Recovery NOT included in House Committee on Ways and Means FY 2017 Budget Recommendations

Posted by Elizabeth Stepakoff on April 26, 2016

By Patricia C. D'Agostino

We are happy to report that the House Committee on Ways and Means did not include Governor Baker’s proposal to expand Medicaid estate recovery. As previously reported, the Governor’s proposed provisions would allow MassHealth to make claims against all property in which the deceased MassHealth member had an ownership interest immediately prior to death. This would include property passing by survivorship or beneficiary designation to a spouse or child that was held in joint names, life estate, tenants by the entirety or living trusts. Current law limits estate recovery to the probate estate of a deceased MassHealth member – meaning the Commonwealth could recover if the deceased member owned their home in his or her name alone.

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Topics: Massachusetts, MassHealth

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