Planning for Life

Is Demography Destiny?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on February 13, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

During a recent bike trip in in Vietnam, I was struck by how youthful the country seems. The streets are full of young people on motor scooters. We were told that in a country of 95 million people, there are 35 million motor scooters (called Hondas just like we call tissues Kleenex). Riding the country's web of rural lanes, we passed hundreds of schoolchildren who waved and called “Hello” to us.

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Topics: demographics, Aging Population

Your Must-Have Checklist if You Need Guardianship When Your Child with Special Needs Turns 18

Posted by Rebecca J Benson on January 30, 2018

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By Rebecca J. Benson

Every child automatically becomes an “adult” in the eyes of the law as soon as the child turns 18 – an unnerving thought for many parents.  Parents of a special needs child need to consider whether their child will need a legal guardian, even after turning 18.  Our comprehensive “how-to” checklist will help you determine whether guardianship is needed and outline the steps for obtaining the necessary Massachusetts court appointment:

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Topics: Special Needs Child, special needs planning, guardianship, proxy, disability

How Many Agents Do You Have?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 24, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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You may have a lot of people who you have appointed to act for you at various times who are your agents. And you may be an agent for a number of other people without thinking about it, or perhaps without even knowing about your role.

Agency relationships can be created in a myriad of ways. Some come about formally via specific nomination in an estate planning document, while others result from a position of trust and authority created in less formal ways. Here are some of the agents you may have or roles in which you may serve:

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Topics: trustee, proxy, durable power of attorney

Be Nice to Your Beneficiaries, or Don't Be Their Trustee

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 16, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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Dad created an estate plan that distributed three quarters of his estate to three of his children and the fourth quarter in trust for one of his daughters, Elaine, and her two children, Paul and Alicia. He named another daughter, Madeline, and her daughter, Paula, as trustees.

Dad died in 2001. The trust for Elaine and her children originally held $542,042. For the next 15 years, Madeline and Paula distributed nothing to Elaine or her children, until 2016 when a court ordered them to make distributions to Elaine so that she "could pay her medical bills and obtain housing." Madeline and Paula did, however, spend more than $50,000 paying for storage of personal items left to Elaine and paid themselves and their attorney.

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Topics: trustee, trusts

Patricia C. D’Agostino Becomes Partner

Posted by Beth Cohen King on January 9, 2018

pcd_vertical.jpgWe are delighted to announce that Patricia C. D’Agostino has become a partner of our firm as of the first of the year.

“Tricia epitomizes both the vast breadth of knowledge that Margolis & Bloom pride ourselves in and the compassionate connection that we strive for with our clients,” said Harry S. Margolis, the firm’s founding partner. “For 10 years, our clients have benefited from Tricia’s down-to-earth approach to the practice of law. Her joining our partnership will further strengthen the firm.”

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Topics: Patricia C. D'Agostino, top women of law, MassHealth

Another Reason to Support the Estate Tax

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 9, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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Last month while it was still pending, I wrote a post about the competing versions of the GOP tax law with regard to federal estate tax. The House bill would have eliminated it entirely. The Senate version, which ultimately passed, doubled the threshold for taxation to $11.2 million for individuals and $22.4 million for married couples. At the risk of getting too political, I made my pitch as to why an estate tax is important in terms of equity and democracy.

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Topics: estate taxes

What Do You Do When the Bank is Unreasonable?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 2, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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We advise our clients to execute durable powers of attorney to make sure that someone can step in and take care of their legal and financial matters in the event of incapacity. Sometimes, individuals use these documents to take advantage of seniors and on very rare occasions banks are held responsible when that happens. As a result, they are often reluctant to accept durable powers of attorney for their intended purpose. This can cause real problems and costs for families.

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Topics: durable power of attorney

What's In the New Tax Law?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on December 26, 2017

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By Harry S. Margolis

While it will take some time to understand all of the effects of the new tax law, and most of it has to do with reducing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, here's some of what we know that relates to individual taxpayers. But before we get into the details, be aware that almost everything listed below sunsets after 2025, with the tax structure reverting to its current form in 2026 unless Congress acts between now and then. The corporate tax rate cut does not sunset. Here are the principal changes:

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Topics: estate taxes, tax law, income taxes

Should My Financial Planner Be a CFP, CLU, or a What?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on December 19, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

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Acronyms, acronyms. Does your financial planner have a lot of initials after her name? Is she a CFP, a CLU, a ChFC or a CFA? What do these designations mean and do they matter?

As with all designations and certifications, they matter a bit, but only a bit. Some advisors with lots of designations will not have their clients' best interests at heart. Others with no designations are very knowledgeable and take great care of their clients. That said, these designations can be used as one of several data points in choosing your financial advisor.

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Topics: financial planning

The Estate Tax: Going, Going, Gone?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on December 5, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

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Both the House and Senate versions of the tax bill would increase the exemption for estate taxes from the current $5.5 million for individuals (and $11 million for married couples) to $11 million (and $22 million, respectively). The House bill would ultimately eliminate the tax all together in 2024. This is the culmination of a long-term campaign against the estate tax which began more than two decades ago when the threshold for taxation was just $600,000.

Already, the result is that only about 5,000 estates per year pay estate taxes, down from 52,000 in 2000.

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Topics: estate taxes

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