Planning for Life

What Would the House Tax Bill Mean for Seniors?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 7, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

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Perhaps we shouldn't be concerned with the House Republicans' proposed tax bill. With no Democratic support, a slim Republican majority in both houses, and a somewhat more moderate Republican majority in the Senate, it is unlikely to become law in its current form, if at all. On the other hand, the Republicans need a victory and will do everything they can to pass the law in something close to its current form.

So, what does it mean for seniors and people with disabilities? The two largest impacts would probably result from the projected loss of tax revenue and the elimination of the medical expense deduction.

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Topics: Medicare, income taxes, seniors, Medicaid

Assisted Living Facilities Are Subject to Landlord Tenant Law

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 26, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

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Assisted living facilities often require that new residents pay a one-time "community fee" as well as last month's rent before moving in. A resident of one of Benchmark Senior Living's 29 facilities in Massachusetts recently sued the company alleging that this practice violates protections for tenants. Benchmark responded that as an assisted living facility it is not subject to the same rules. This has long been a claim of the assisted living industry, and it was refuted by the judge in this case.

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Topics: assisted living regulations, assisted living

“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

Risking Old Age in America

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 17, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

Almost 30 years ago, my father wrote a book titled Risking Old Age In America, which described the plight of seniors in the United States who faced severe income gaps, limited assistance for care at home and deplorable nursing homes. A lot has changed since then, but many of the same challenges persist or have gotten worse.IMG_2097.jpg

With the advent of the assisted living industry, there's an alternative to nursing homes. Home care services have expanded as has government assistance to pay for home care. Nursing homes have improved, and seniors enter them later in life when they need more care, meaning fewer are institutionalized for year after year.

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Topics: Retirement Planning

Accounting Firm Gets into the Practice of Law: Is this the Future for the Legal Profession?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 10, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

The recent announcement the Big Four accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC)iStock-818880716.jpg that it is opening a law firm in Washington, D.C., could be the harbinger of revolutionary change in the practice of law. In the United States, law firms operate under archaic rules that limit law firm ownership to lawyers. This is why all law firms are partnerships rather than corporations. It's also why most law firms are under capitalized since they can't raise money from non-attorney investors or have an IPO like other businesses. As a result, they do not have the resources to invest in the systems and personnel that would permit them to modernize more quickly and provide more efficient and cost effective services to clients.

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Topics: Legal profession

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

7 Reasons to Create a Family Protection Trust, and 4 Not To

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 26, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

The other day I met with a husband and wife and their adult son to discuss the parents' estate plan. We discussed tax planning, avoiding probate and steps to provide for financial management if either or both spouses become incapacitated.iStock-629864928.jpg

Then I told the son that he and his sister have a choice. When they inherit from their parents they can either have everything distributed outright to them or have it remain in trust for their benefit. We call these "family protection trusts." As I explained to the son, family protection trusts provide the following benefits:

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Topics: trusts, Estate Planning

If Your Trust Isn't Working, Don't Recant, Decant

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 19, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

Two recent cases decided by the Supreme Judicial Court, Morse v. Kraft (466 Mass. 92, 2013) and Ferri v. Powell-Ferri (476 Mass. 651, 2017), have confirmed and arugably expanded the power of trustees to transfer trust assets to new trusts to better carry out the goals of the trust grantors in creating the trusts in the first place. iStock-177700114.jpgThe Ferri case permitted the trustee to transfer funds into a new, more restrictive trust even though the trust beneficiary had the right to withdraw the funds from the original trust, since the trustee had the power to distribute the funds to other beneficiaries.

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Topics: trusts, MassHealth planning, MassHealth

Should My Lawyer Be a Member of NAEPC, AAEPA, ACTEC, NAELA, etc.?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 12, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

A financial planner recently asked me the following:

Second, because this question comes up from time to time, what organization of estate planning attorneys do you recommend I use as a general resource?  I just googled "estate planning attorney organizations", but I found several:

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  • AAEPA
  • ACTEC
  • NNEPA
  • NAELA
  • AATEELA

Which one should I start with?  Assume the clients have assets of $1-$3M - not enough to worry about federal estate taxes, but big enough to be somewhat complicated, and definitely worth updating the will, doing the business and health care POAs, etc.

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Topics: Legal profession, Estate Planning

Are You Aging Wisely? Advice From Those Walking the Path

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 5, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

A local psychologist (formerly a lawyer) and her 97-year-old father have recently published an inspiring volume, Aging Wisely . . . Wisdom of Our Elders, 128414173X.jpgof more than 100 essays, and a few poems, by 73 contributors commenting on what they've learned, sometimes painfully, during their lives. Irving I. Silverman and Ellen Beth Siegel divide the selections into 19 parts, including Life Stories, Using Internal Strengths, Work and Retirement, The Meanings of Success, and Coping with Losses.

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Topics: Aging Population, aging

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