Planning for Life

Older Couple Ordered to Complete Sale of Nahant Home Despite Claim of Incapacity

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 23, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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In early spring of this year, George and Maureen Burke, a couple in their 70s, agreed to sell their shoreline home in Nahant to Christopher Whitlock and Mary Flannery for $1.075. Soon afterwards, they had cold feet and their attorney sent Whitlock and Flannery's attorney a letter declaring the sale agreement to be null and void because (a) the Burkes' real estate agent had coerced them to sign, (b) Mrs. Burke "was on several medications at the time of signing, and (c) she didn't 'knowingly, voluntarily, or intelligently sign' the Agreement."

Whitlock and Flannery brought suit to enforce the agreement. In Whitlock and Flannery v. Burke and Burke (Essex Sup. Ct. Misc 18-000298, July 19, 2018) the Court finds that Mrs. Burke did understand the agreement and ordered that the Burkes carry out their obligations to complete the sale.

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Topics: incapacity

Protecting the Rights of Massachusetts Voters with Disabilities

Posted by Rebecca J Benson on October 19, 2018

By Rebecca J. Benson

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About 35 million eligible voters in the U.S. have a disability – close to one in six. Although voting is one of the most fundamental rights granted to American citizens, nearly a third of voters with disabilities reported facing obstacles to voting in the 2012 election, including difficulties with physical access to the polling place, reading the ballot or operating the voting machine.

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Topics: disability, voting rights

Strategies for a Full Life with Dementia

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 16, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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A recent article in The New York Times offered some hope for those diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Entitled "Leading an Active Life with a Diagnosis of Dementia," the article featured a woman, Laurie Scherrer, diagnosed with early onset dementia at age 55 who continues to lead an active life.

Steps Toward an Active Life with Dementia

Here are a few of the steps Ms. Scherrer took:

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Topics: dementia, Alzheimer's disease, incapacity

Why the Governor's Council Should be Abolished

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 9, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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Do you know what the Governor's Council does and who serves as your Governor's Councillor? If not, don't feel bad; most other people don't either.That's why it should be abolished. The elections cannot be democratic if no one knows what they're voting for.

As explained in a recent article on the topic in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, I'm a convert to this position.

“It’s really not very democratic,” Margolis says of the Governor’s Council. “We say the people ought to have a say in who serves as judges, but I don’t think they really do.”

What is the Governor's Council?

The Governor's Council, a survival from colonial times, has eight elected members. Its main role today is to vet nominees for judicial appointments. It also votes on nominees to the parole board as well as on pardons and commutations.

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Home Care Benefits and Risks

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 2, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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In recent years, home care for disabled seniors has grown tremendously with absolutely no regulation. For the most part, this has been good with millions of seniors being able to stay in their own homes as they age. But a recent series of articles in The Boston Globe highlights the risks inherent to the system both to those receiving care and those providing it.

There has been a proliferation of individuals and companies, small and large, either providing in-home care or connecting families with caregivers. Two of the biggest are Home Instead Senior Care, which franchises home care agencies, and Care.com, which has expanded its child care referral services to include senior care as well.

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Topics: home care, Caregivers, elder care

Russell, McTernan, McTernan & Fruci of Norwood, Merges with Margolis & Bloom

Posted by Beth Cohen King on October 1, 2018

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Wellesley, MA., October 1, 2018 – Margolis & Bloom, an esteemed estate, special needs and long-term care planning law firm, recently announced the acquisition of 55-year-old estate planning firm, Russell, McTernan, McTernan & Fruci in Norwood.
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Topics: merger, elder law, Estate Planning

Can an On-Line Note Serve as a Will?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 25, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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What constitutes a will? According to Massachusetts law, which is similar to the law in all states, wills must be in writing and signed by the "testator" and two witnesses.

However, the law also permits other writings to serve if the:

Intent that the document constitute the testator's will can be established by extrinsic evidence.

This means that a separate writing that does not meet all of the traditional requirements of a will may be admitted as a will by the probate court.

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Topics: will, will in massachusetts

Bonazzoli Recommends Program for Dealing with Estate Planning Unknowns

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 21, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis


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I recently wrote a blog post on how often everyone should review their estate plans -- when you're younger, when circumstances change; when you're older, every five years. It just happened that after posting that blog, I had the opportunity to review the new book by my colleague and friend, Vincent E. Bonazzoli, How an Ordinary Lawyer Creates and Sustains an Extraordinary Client Care Program, in which he explains that estate planning is all about planning for unknown future events and circumstances.

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Topics: Estate Planning

Why Didn't Aretha Have a Will?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 18, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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Aretha Franklin was a star and a wise businesswoman. According to her obituary, she demanded payment up front before she performed. She is reported to have died with an estate worth $80 million.

Yet, she had no estate plan. When one of my clients sent me an email asking me why, I turned the question back to her and she responded:

I think that she has some shady lawyers, accountants, and other random business people around her who did not serve her well.

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Topics: will, Estate Planning

To Issue or Children -- An "Issue" of Interpretation

Posted by Alison Blum on September 11, 2018

By Alison Blum

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In 1960, Elizabeth S. Payson executed a will leaving her estate first in trust for her husband and then in trust for the benefit of her daughter, also named Elizabeth. (For purposes of clarity, we''ll refer to the mother as Ms. Payson and the daughter as Elizabeth.) The will directed that after Elizabeth’s death, the net income from a trust should be distributed to Elizabeth’s children (Ms. Payson's grandchildren), until the youngest of these children turned 21. After Elizabeth’s children reached the age of 21, the principal of the trust was to be distributed to Elizabeth’s issue in equal shares.

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Topics: will, trusts, issue

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