Planning for Life

Appeals Court Confirms Use of POAs in Life Estate Deeds

Posted by Anthony Bushu on May 10, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

A life estate is a deed that divides ownership by time. The "life tenant" has full rights to the property during his life, but at his death full rights pass to the "remaindermen." Both the life tenant and the remaindermen are owners of the property, but their interests are different.

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Topics: MassHealth planning, long-term care planning, Estate Planning

Special Needs Trusts and Retirement Benefits: A Complicated Subject

Posted by Anthony Bushu on May 5, 2017

By Karen Mariscal 

older parent and child.jpgMuch of your savings may be in your 401(k)’s and IRAs.  It is important to designate the proper beneficiaries for these accounts, so that your beneficiaries do not have to pay taxes on the funds prematurely. Unfortunately when a beneficiary has special needs, it gets complicated.

If the beneficiary receives the IRAs and 401(k)’s directly, the required minimum distributions (RMDs) could prevent your child from receiving the government benefits he needs. But if you designate a special needs trust as the beneficiary of a retirement account, there could be adverse income tax consequences. 

Fortunately, with proper drafting, such tax results usually can be prevented. People have written entire books on this subject -- this is our attempt to summarize the basic issues.           

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Topics: Retirement Planning, Special Needs Trust, Retirement Benefits, Required Minimum Distributions

ABLE Accounts Preserve Food Stamp Eligibility

Posted by Anthony Bushu on May 4, 2017

By Karen Mariscal 

Child and food.jpgA final rule has been issued that states money in an ABLE account is not counted for purposes of determining SNAP eligibility. Up until now, funds in ABLE accounts were not specifically excluded from eligibility calculations for SNAP benefits. That changed on March 7, 2017, when the amendment went into effect.

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Topics: MassHealth, Food Stamps, SNAP Eligibility, ABLE Accounts, SNAP Benefits

Low Dementia Growth Predicted for Massachusetts

Posted by Anthony Bushu on May 3, 2017

older coupleBy Jamie Marshall

The Alzheimer’s Association has released its annual report of facts and figures about the disease, reporting that 5.5 million Americans suffer from the disease, 200,000 of whom are below age 65.

Most of those with Alzheimer’s, 82 percent, are 75 or older, with more of these between 75 and 84 than those 85 and older. This contrasts with a similar article I wrote six years ago, when most people with Alzheimer's were 85 and over. I assume this has to do with changing demographics: there are relatively few Americans in the older cohort because they were born during the baby bust of the Depression -- 85 years ago was 1932. This trend will continue for another decade and a half, and then the "older old" population will skyrocket as the oldest Baby Boomers start reaching the 85 year old threshold beginning in 2031.

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Topics: baby boomers, dementia, Massachusetts

7 Reasons You Should Consider A QTIP Trust

Posted by Anthony Bushu on April 26, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

older married couple with lawyer.jpgSo, what's a QTIP trust? "QTIP" stands for qualified terminable interest property. Total legal gobbledygook, right? So forget the words. What it means is a trust that you leave for your spouse that gives him the right to all of the income and limits his right to the principal. Those limits can be total, meaning no right to principal, or minor, meaning simply limited by the HEMS standard (for health, education, maintenance and financial security) or fully available but controlled by a trustee other than your spouse.  

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Topics: trusts, asset protection, Estate Planning, estate taxes

Talk to Your Client, or Face the Consequences

Posted by Anthony Bushu on April 19, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

An experienced Massachusetts attorney was recently admonished by the Board of Bar Overseers (BBO) for steps he took to protect his client, steps he took without contacting her directly. (Admonition No. 17-06)

The lawyer, who is unnamed in the admonition, but who we'll call Lawyer A, received a call from another attorney who asked Lawyer A to turn over the client's files. The new attorney said that the client, an elderly woman, had now hired him. Lawyer A called the woman's daughter, who was named on her mother's durable power of attorney.

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Topics: Estate Planning, Attorney- Client Relationship

A Different Approach to Estate Planning

Posted by Anthony Bushu on April 12, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

I had lunch the other day with Vincent Bonazzoli of the Family Estate Planning Law Group in Lynnfield. He has a different approach to estate planning representation that may work better for many attorneys and their clients than more traditional forms of estate planning.

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Topics: Legal profession, Estate Planning

5 Reasons to Use a Lawyer for MassHealth Planning

Posted by Anthony Bushu on April 5, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

Okay, this is somewhat self-serving. As an elder law attorney, my firm and I advise clients on how they can plan to be eligible for MassHealth coverage of their long-term care. But many seniors and their families don't use lawyers, whether for long-term care planning or assistance with the MassHealth application, often because they're afraid of the cost. Some take steps based on what they've heard from others, some do nothing, and others enlist non-lawyers to assist with MassHealth applications, often referred by nursing homes.

Here's a few reasons to use an elder law attorney instead:

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Topics: long-term care planning, MassHealth

2 Reasons Surviving Spouses Should File Federal Estate Tax Returns: Portability and Capital Gains

Posted by Anthony Bushu on March 29, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

With the threshold for federal estate taxes set at $5.49 million this year (it adjusts each year for inflation), very few estates have to file a federal estate tax return. In contrast, the Massachusetts threshold is $1 million, meaning that many more estates must file a Massachusetts return. For estates that fall between $1 million and $5.49 million, it can still make sense to file a federal return if the decedent left a surviving spouse.

This is for two reasons: portability and capital gains step up.

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Topics: capital gains taxes, Probate Estate Administration, estate taxes

Parenting a Child on the Autism Spectrum: A Curious Incident

Posted by Anthony Bushu on March 24, 2017

By Karen Mariscal 

incident of the dog.pngRecently I attended a play, "A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” in Boston, and I am reminded how truly powerful theater can be. Having read the book I didn't expect to be impacted so much, to the point that I couldn't breathe. The moment in the play that stood out most to me was the mother of Christopher, the 15-year-old boy with Asperger’s, explaining why she left home, eventually getting a divorce. 

Here's what she said about parenting her child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD, (like my child), quoting from the book:

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Topics: Managing Stress, Telomere, Stress, Telomere Effect, Caregivers, Mothers of chronically ill children

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