Planning for Life

This Isn’t What My Stepfather Would Have Wanted

Posted by Kerry Reilly on March 21, 2019

By Kerry Reilly

losing-home-because-of-no-will-margolis-and-bloom-call-nowWith the growth of blended families, having an estate plan in place becomes even more important.  On February 7, 2019, The Boston Globe published an article entitled “A patriarch leaves no will and the home he meant for his Cambridge family may be lost,” which illustrates in heartbreaking detail what happens when we don’t have the right plan in place.

Read More

Topics: Estate Planning, will in massachusetts, health care proxy

Where Should You Live as You Age?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on March 19, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

Margolis-and-Bloom-call-now-to-help-with-your-estate-planning-Wellesley

Most people don't move when they retire, instead staying where they have lived all their lives and where they have the strongest personal and family connections. So, they must either hope that their towns and cities are good places to age in terms of the services they provide or work actively to improve those services. In my own town of Brookline, the Brookline Community Aging Network takes the latter approach, working actively "to ensure that older Brookline residents remain a vital part of the town's social, cultural, and civic life."

Others choose to move after they retire, whether full-time or for part of the year. They may move for a better climate, often during the winter, for a lower cost of living, or to be near family members, especially grandchildren. But if you can move anywhere in the world, where should you move?

Read More

Topics: aging

What Happens in Massachusetts if You Don't have a Health Care Proxy?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on March 12, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

Margolis-and-Bloom-Wellesley-Health-Care-Proxy

As long as we are 18 or over and have our wits together, we all have the right to make our own health care decisions. But what happens when we become incapacitated, whether temporarily or permanently, and cannot make such decisions?

Then, legally, only a court-appointed guardian or an agent under a health care proxy can make decisions for us. In an emergency, medical providers can take measures to keep us alive, but once the emergency has passed no one has the right to step in and make decisions in the absence of a health care proxy or guardianship appointment.

 

Read More

Topics: health-care decision making, health care proxy

Lawyer for the Situation or for the Family

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on March 5, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

Wellesley-lawyer-fair-representation-Margolis-and-Bloom

Lawyers are trained, and legal ethics rules require, that they represent a single client or more than one client only if there's absolutely no differences in their interests with respect to the legal matter at hand. In addition, lawyers must do their best to represent the interests and goals of clients with diminished capacity.

The concept of zealous advocacy for a single client was expressed early in the 19th century by Lord Brougham who said "an advocate, in discharge of his duty, knows but one person in all the world, and that person is his client."

Read More

Topics: Legal profession, ethical rules

Don't Let the Perfect Plan Get in the Way of a Good One

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on February 26, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

iStock-954681460

Some of our most thoughtful clients have the most trouble completing their estate plans. One client in particular continues to haunt me. A successful architect and city planner, a number of his children went into the "helping" professions, fields in which they would never reach his level of financial success. While well off, once divided into equal shares for his four children, whatever he would leave them could not on its own ensure each child's financial security.

My client struggled between his wish to help his children lead more comfortable lives and his concern that their inheritance act as a financial bulwark against their possible future needs for extraordinary health care or retirement. We tried to find the right balance to do some of each -- providing each with some direct inheritance while holding some money in reserve through a trust to provide for potential future needs. But it was clear that the funds were insufficient to meet both goals fully.

Read More

Topics: Estate Planning

How Much Should You Give to Charity? When? Which Charities?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on February 5, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

iStock-813128966

How much should any of us give to charity? When? Which charities?

I raise these questions being troubled by my own charitable giving. In large part, I engage in random acts of charitable giving with no thought out plan. Instead, I respond to solicitations, making gifts on how I feel about the organization and how flush I feel at the time. My feelings about each group may be influenced by important factors, including:

  • Personal connection.
  • My sense of how effective the group is in its mission.
  • The need of the people helped by the organization.
  • Whether my donation will have a significant impact.
  • Whether my donation will be noticed, in other words will people in my community see my name on the list of donors.
Read More

Topics: charitable giving

When to Use an ABLE Account

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 29, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

iStock-916417264

ABLE accounts were created by the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 as an alternative to special needs trusts and to share the benefits of 529 plans for people who are unlikely to pursue higher education. They only go part way towards those goals but nevertheless can be very useful in providing flexibility around very strict public benefit rules, especially those of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

Read More

Topics: special needs planning, Special Needs Trust, ABLE Accounts, Attainable Savings Plan

Divorce-Created SNT Deemed Self-Settled for Creditor Purposes

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 22, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

iStock-462098043

In determining eligibility for MassHealth and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the state and federal agencies treat self-settled trusts -- those created by the applicant for benefit -- and third-party trusts -- those created by someone else -- entirely differently. The assets held in a self-settled trust are considered available to the applicant for benefits to the extent the trustee has discretion to distribute them to the applicant or to use them for her benefit. The assets of a third-party trust are only considered available to the extent the trustee actually distributes them to or uses them for the applicant for benefits.

These rules track the rules for creditors. With some exceptions, creditors can gain access to assets in trusts created by the debtor and cannot gain access to trusts created by someone else for the benefit of the debtor. The issue in the case of Calhoun, et al. v. Rawlins (93 Mass. App. Ct. 458, June 27, 2018) is whether a trust created by one divorcing spouse for the benefit of the other spouse is protected from the creditors of the beneficiary spouse. This has significance for special needs planning because it's not unusual for special needs trust to be created in the context of divorce.

Read More

Topics: special needs planning, divorce, Special Needs Trust, creditor protection

SJC Rules Surviving Spouse Gets Life Estate in Real Estate

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 15, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

iStock-1047163934

There is just one exception to the American rule that you get to choose who gets your property after you die. As long as you're competent, you can give it to anyone, the postman, your babysitter from when you were a child, or the person who picked you up hitchhiking in the rain.

The one exception is protections for your surviving spouse. In Massachusetts, this is found at M.G.L. Ch. 191, Sec. 15. This is an odd or anachronistic law in that it creates a big distinction in the rights of the surviving spouse depending on whether the decedent's estate is worth more or less than $75,000.

Read More

Topics: will in massachusetts, spousal share

Consumer Disclosures Now Mandated for Assisted Living Residents

Posted by Rebecca J Benson on January 14, 2019

 Screen Shot 2019-01-14 at 1.41.35 PM           

Effective January 1, 2019, the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) requires all Massachusetts assisted living providers to provide a standard consumer disclosure statement with each new residency contract.  According to a Memorandum from EOEA, the mandated disclosure is intended to explain issues that are often overlooked or misunderstood when people choose to move into assisted living, particularly issues of fees and services that are included (or not included) in the agreement.  Among other things, the disclosure states that assisted living residences are not the same as nursing homes, cannot provide skilled care and are not required to have nurses on-site. 

Read More

Topics: assisted living regulations, assisted living

Subscribe to New Blog Posts

Recent Posts

Most Popular Posts

Posts by Topic

see all