Planning for Life

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:

  • NAEPClogo.png
  • 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

Why Are Legal Documents So Long?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 29, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

Have you ever wondered why legal documents are so long and why they contain so much gobbledygook? For instance why are wills called "Last Will and Testament" rather than simply "My Will"? And speaking of that, what's a "testament"?fountain-pen-pocket-watch-on-a-last-will-and-testament-picture-id589584162.jpg

Why do durable powers of attorney go on for five pages when they could just say:

I appoint my son, Joe, to handle my finances and legal matters in the event I become incapacitated.

And what's with this word "durable"?

And have you ever seen a legal release? They're the worst.

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Where's Your Dog? The Answer Might Affect Your Estate Taxes

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 22, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

Massachusetts taxes all estates exceeding $1 million. Florida and most other states do not. While a recent case involved New York state income taxes rather than estate taxes, a crucial element was location of the taxpayer's dog played in important role in the case of Matter of Blatt.

Gregory Blatt grew up in Massachusetts, but moved to New York for law school at Columbia.

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MassHealth Planning is Not for Everyone

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 15, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

Everyone who is retired or considering retiring faces the question of whether they have enough money, especially now that few people have pensions that pay for life. This involves a number of unknowns, including how long they'll live, their investment returns and their living costs. But the biggest uncertainty is whether they'll need long-term care.

The Query

Following are excerpts from an email I recently received from a long-time client:

The only thing that frightens me is that I will run out of funds sooner than later. Let me reassure you first of all. I feel fine, in fact I’m in very good health, active, living independently, driving, traveling, socializing, etc etc. I’m now 88 years old (89 in January) and people “can’t believe how well I look”!

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Topics: MassHealth planning, long-term care planning

Is Medicaid Planning Ethical?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 26, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

In his most recent personal finance column, New York Times reporter Ron Lieber ron-lieber-thumbLarge[1].jpgaddresses "The Ethics of Adjusting Your Assets to Qualify for Medicaid." As Lieber explains in this and prior articles, Medicaid has become the primary source of payment for long-term care services in the United States. But it is essentially a health care program for the poor and has set asset, and sometimes income, limits for determining if someone is poor enough to qualify for benefits.

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Topics: MassHealth planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid

Florida Governor Vetoes Electronic Will Act

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 18, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

I've often mused about the contrast between the formalities necessary to execute a will, requiring two witnesses and a notary, and the lack of formality to name a beneficiary of an investment or retirement account or a life insurance policy. Often the investment and retirement accounts contain substantially more money than the rest of an individual's estate. And often the beneficiaries can be changed online without any of the protections required for a will.

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Topics: Estate Planning

Senate to Poor, Disabled and Elderly: You're On Your Own

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 23, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

The repeal Obamacare millipede has dropped its next foot with the Senate Republican "draft" bill released on Thursday, June 22nd, the so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act. In many millipede7.jpgways it's more draconian than the House's American Health Care Act (AHCA), especially with regard to Medicaid funding. Yet, it maintains much of the structure of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which has caused four Republican Senators -- Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, and Mike Lee -- to say they will not support it. A fifth, Dean Heller, has also come out against the bill due to its planned cuts in Medicaid, leaving its passage in its current form in doubt.

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Topics: Affordable Care Act, Medicaid

Trump-Ryan-McConnell Plan Takes Aim at Your Parents, and You

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 21, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

image-3.pngI generally try to avoid politics in my blog posts, but sometimes politics invade my field of long-term care planning. At this writing, the Republican leadership in the Senate is crafting its own version of Obamacare repeal. We don't know what it will look like, and 

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Topics: long-term care planning, MassHealth, Medicaid

Making Charitable Contributions from Your IRA

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 14, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

I've often heard that taxpayers should make their charitable contributions from their IRAs rather than from their other savings, but didn't understand why until recently. It seemed to me that any tax incurred by withdrawing funds from the IRA would be offset by the charitable deduction available for making the gift. So the result would be the same whether the taxpayer withdrew the funds from the IRA and subsequently made a charitable gift of the same amount or made the donation directly from the IRA.

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Topics: Retirement Planning, Retirement Benefits

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