Planning for Life

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

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: Medicaid, Affordable Care Act

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: Medicaid, MassHealth, long-term care planning

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 Benefits, Retirement Planning

SJC Rejects MassHealth "Availability" Doctrine

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 5, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

In its long-awaited decision in the Daley and Nadeau cases released on May 30th, 2017 ( Daley v. Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (Mass., No. SJC-12200, May 30, 2017) and Nadeau v. Director of the Office of Medicaid (Mass., No. SJC-12205, May 30, 2017)), the Supreme Judicial Court rules that MassHealth cannot count assets owned by irrevocable trusts as available to an applicant for MassHealth unless and only to the extent the trustee may distribute principal to the applicant or his or her spouse. MassHealth had argued that the right of the applicant or his or her spouse to use and occupy a residence owned by a trust makes it available and countable. 

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Topics: MassHealth, MassHealth planning, trusts

June 1st Marks 30 Years of Elder Law and Special Needs Planning

Posted by Anthony Bushu on June 1, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

JAB-HSM-RJB (high res).jpgThirty-one years ago my law firm, Palmer & Dodge, sent me over to Greater Boston Elderly Legal Services for a four-month stint representing seniors being pushed out of their homes during one of the earliest phases of gentrification. This served several purposes. The firm was able to provide a pro bono service. GBELS benefited from an extra staff attorney -- always inexperienced. And we, the young associates, could practice representing clients and appearing in court, without risking our inexperience on the firm's paying clients.

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Topics: elder law

7 Solutions If You Transferred Assets Within 5 Years of Moving to a Nursing Home

Posted by Anthony Bushu on May 24, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

I recently received the following inquiry from a colleague:

I’m working with a client whose mother has been self-pay in a nursing home for several months as she spends down her savings. They applied for MassHealth in January and they anticipate she’ll run out of funds by mid-March. There’s the possibility that they will incur a penalty period since in June 2012, their mother gave about $80k to her daughter.

My understanding is that the lookback period is 5 years and that period begins on the date the application was filed, as opposed to when she will become eligible for Medicaid once her money is spent down. Is that understanding correct? The family just needs to know what to expect and is considering asking the sister to recoup the cost but wish to avoid undue conflict if possible.

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

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