Planning for Life

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Topics: Estate Planning, Legal profession

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.

Read More

Topics: estate taxes, Estate Planning

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.

Read More

Topics: Estate Planning, financial planning, Retirement Planning

Probate Court Upholds Beneficiary Designation: Attorney-in-fact Executed Documents for Her Own Benefit

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on December 23, 2016

When can an attorney-in-fact change an estate plan for her own benefit? When it's what the grantor or the durable power of attorney wants. In Giroux v. Laranjo, et al. (Bristol Probate Court Docket Nos. BR15F0006QC and BR13P2422EA, March 4, 2016), the court upholds the validity of a schedule of trust beneficiaries executed by Patricia A. Giroux as attorney-in-fact for Joseph A. Peixoto even though she stood to gain a considerable amount from its execution.

Read More

Topics: Estate Planning, trusts, Probate Estate Administration

Is Anyone Entitled to an Inheritance?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 30, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

David Karofsky of the Transition Consulting Group, who advises family businesses on succession planning, recently wrote about cases of entitlement he has run across in his business and elsewhere. They include:

The woman who was overheard talking on her cellphone about her father who had more than enough money with his three houses. She and her siblings, she said, had to take control of his finances so that he did not "waste" them before they got passed down to her generation.

Read More

Topics: estate taxes, Estate Planning

Explaining the Inexplicable: The Massachusetts Estate Tax and Gifting

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 17, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

As you may know, the threshold for taxing estates in Massachusetts is $1 million, much less than the current $5.45 million threshold for federal estate taxes. In addition, unlike the federal estate tax which only taxes the excess over the threshold, if an estate exceeds $1 million the entire amount above $40,000 is taxed. Fortunately, the rate is substantially less, ranging from 0.8% to 16%, whereas the federal rate is 40%.

Read More

Topics: Estate Planning, estate taxes

Avoiding Massachusetts Taxes: So You Want  to Move to Florida?

Posted by Elizabeth Stepakoff on November 1, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

If you've thought of establishing residence in Florida or another low-tax state to save on income and estate taxes, a recent New York state case sheds light on what steps you need to take. In the case of the Matter of Campaniello, the taxpayer, Thomas Campaniello had extremely high income, over $10 million in 2007, the year in question, including profits on the sale of real estate. This no doubt motivated him to seek to avoid New York state and city income taxes and motivated the New York tax authorities to go after him.

Read More

Topics: estate taxes, Estate Planning

Case Illustrates, but Rejects, Doctrine of Merger in Trust Law

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 25, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

In the case of Mond v. Pitts (Mass. App. Ct. 15-P-686, Aug. 19, 2016), the Massachusetts Appeals Court corrected an erroneous decision involving two trusts created by Lorenzo Pitts, Sr., who passed away in 2009. Lorenzo Sr. created the Esperanza Trust and the Fort Hill Trust, both of which held real estate in Roxbury. While the trusts had a second trustee and at one point the second trustee also owned 1% of one of the trusts, during his life, Lorenzo Sr. became the sole  trustee and sole lifetime beneficiary of both trusts. The trusts provided that at his death, "the beneficiaries shall be Lorenzo Pitts, Jr. and Robert Pitts, in equal shares." The trusts further directed that the trusts would terminate and that the property be sold and distributed "among the beneficiaries if living."

Read More

Topics: Estate Planning, trusts

What's a Trust and Why are There So Many Different Kinds?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 18, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

A trust is a legal entity that permits one or more people -- the "trustee" or "trustees" -- to manage property for the benefit of other people -- the "beneficiaries." The third actor in a trust is the person who creates it -- the "grantor" or "donor." To confuse things a bit further the same person can be a grantor, trustee and beneficiary, but he can't be the only one in all three roles. And the property in the trust can be just about anything you can own -- real estate, bank accounts, investments, or artwork.

Read More

Topics: Estate Planning, special needs planning

Subscribe to New Blog Posts

Recent Posts

Most Popular Posts

Posts by Topic

see all