Planning for Life

How the Differences between SSI and SSDI Can Impact Financial Planning for Your Special Needs Child

Posted by Anthony Bushu on February 22, 2017

By Karen Mariscal 

Financial Planning for Your Special Needs Child: SSI and SSDI

Parents of children with special needs should understand the U.S. government’s two different income support programs: SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance). These programs both provide cash to disabled people who cannot be gainfully employed, via monthly checks. There is a lot of confusion about the difference between the two programs. Although SSI and SSDI both provide supplemental income to disabled people, and have similar names, they are completely different programs.

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Topics: financial planning, special needs, Special Needs Child, SSI, SSDI

Making Sure the Inheritance for Your Special Needs Child Doesn't Disappear

Posted by Anthony Bushu on February 15, 2017

By Karen Mariscal 

How can you protect the inheritance for your special needs child?  One way is through a supplemental needs trust.  A supplemental needs trust is a special type of trust that both provides management of money for the disabled beneficiary, and maintains the beneficiary’s eligibility for government services. 

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Topics: trusts, asset protection, special needs

Trump Tax Plan May Discourage Charitable Deductions

Posted by Anthony Bushu on February 8, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

Several of President Donald Trump's tax plans have been described as threats to the ability of charities to raise money. While I oppose just about everything the new president stands for, there's one tax proposal I can get behind -- limiting total annual itemized deductions to $100,000 per taxpayer ($200,000 per couple).

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Topics: income taxes, estate taxes, tax law

The IEP/BSEA Hearing Process and Pitfalls for Clinicians Working with Special Needs Children

Posted by Anthony Bushu on February 6, 2017

FML 3.jpgSpecial Education attorney Heather Gold visited Margolis & Bloom on Monday, February 6th, as part of our monthly First Monday Lunch for Professionals.  Heather represents parents who have children with special needs in connection with the IEP/BSEA (Board of Special Education Appeals) Hearing process.

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Questions & Answers on Protecting the Family Home

Posted by Anthony Bushu on February 1, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

I recently conducted a webinar surveying the various techniques clients can take to protect their home from the costs of long-term care. These ranged from standing pat and doing nothing to giving their home to their kids, with life estates, irrevocable trusts and purchasing long-term care insurance as in-between strategies, each with its own pros and cons.

Afterwards, I received a number of follow-up questions. Here are some of them with my answers:

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Topics: MassHealth planning, MassHealth

Beware the Mass Estate Tax at the Threshold

Posted by Anthony Bushu on January 25, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

While the threshold for the federal estate tax is $5.49 million this year, the Massachusetts threshold is $1 million. Fortunately, the Massachusetts rates are much lower than the federal rate, graduated from 0.8% to 16% on estates exceeding $10 million, a flat 40%. (For estates in the $1 million to $2 million range, the marginal rate is 6.4% or 7.2%.) Unfortunately, in Massachusetts if the estate exceeds that threshold, the entire estate gets taxed. The result is a much higher marginal rate.

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Topics: Estate Planning, estate taxes

Is Your Financial Advisor a Fiduciary?

Posted by Anthony Bushu on January 18, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

When you consult with your financial advisor or planner, does she put your interests first, or is she simply under an obligation to sell products that are "appropriate"? If you don't know, ask.

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Topics: Estate Planning, Retirement Planning, financial planning

MassHealth Seeking to Limit Use of Pooled Trusts

Posted by Anthony Bushu on January 11, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

MassHealth has proposed massive changes to its regulations governing long-term care, both in the community and in nursing homes. Many of these are complicated, but could adversely affect many seniors in the state. One that's not so complicated is a proposal to limit transfers to pooled disability trusts.

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

Major Change to Eligibility Criteria for Home and Community Based Services Waiver

Posted by Anthony Bushu on January 5, 2017

By Patricia C. D'Agostino, Esq.

There is now an asset limit of $120,900 for married elders seeking eligibility for the Home and Community Based Services Waiver (the “Waiver).  This will be effective for Waiver participants who enrolled in the program after January 1, 2014.  MassHealth is not reviewing the eligibility of those who enrolled before that date.

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How LTCI Companies Shoot Themselves in the Foot

Posted by Anthony Bushu on January 4, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

Probably the biggest drawback to buying long-term care insurance is that you cannot be certain that your company will not raise its premiums. If you're paying $4,000 a year now, the company may raise this to $5,000, $6,000 or $7,000 a year in a decade or more. That may or may not be affordable when the time comes. You'll have a choice at that point to (1) pay the higher premium, (2) decrease your benefit level under the policy, or (3) drop the policy all together. This is the choice my friend, John Lippitt, and his wife are facing. Here's some of what he wrote to the Massachusetts Division of Insurance:

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