Planning for Life

5 Essential Estate Planning Documents and Why They Matter To You

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 26, 2016

According to LexisNexis, 60% of Americas think everyone should have an estate plan, but only 44% actually have any estate planning instrument in place, such as a will, trust or durable power of attorney. My guess is that at least half of the 44% with estate plans, has outdated documents that they may have put in place when their children were born and now 20, 30 or 40 years later their family and financial situations have changed entirely.

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Topics: Estate Planning

What does it mean to be an agent under a durable power of attorney in Massachusetts?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 14, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Have you been asked to serve as an agent (or "attorney-in-fact" to use the technical term) under a durable power of attorney in Massachusetts, but you're not totally sure about your duties and responsibilities? Then you're not alone.  Here's a primer.

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Topics: guardianship, durable power of attorney, trusts, Estate Planning

Funding Your Revocable Living Trust: Re-Titling Assets and Re-Naming Beneficiaries

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on September 12, 2016

We see it all the time – people pay good money to set up a trust in order to avoid probate and minimize estate taxes, and then they fail to fund the trust. Without any assets in it, the trust will fulfill only some of its potential benefit.

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Topics: trusts, Estate Planning

How one couple prioritized conflicting estate planning goals

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 8, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

My new clients were an older couple, the wife healthy and the husband, unfortunately, suffering from a progressive neurological disease which confined him to a wheelchair. He needed physical help at the start and end of each day and the level of help, and its cost, was likely to grow as his disease progressed. The couple had their main home in Massachusetts, plus a vacation home in New Hampshire. They had sufficient income and savings to cover their current living expenses, but they could be depleted if the husband needed extensive care over a long period of time. Much of their savings was in tax-deferred retirement accounts.

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Topics: Estate Planning, long-term care planning

Who Should Get Your Stuff When You Die? And Who Should Decide?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 26, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

In the United States, we get to decide who gets our assets when we die, our children, our spouse, charities, or our hairdresser. The only exception is that absent a prenuptial agreement, spouses have the right to "elect against the will" to get at least a minimum inheritance. This "spousal share" in Massachusetts is relatively meager, $25,000 plus an income interest in half of the remaining estate if the decedent had no surviving children or grandchildren or an income interest in a third of the remaining estate if the deceased spouse did have surviving children or grandchildren. No one else has any rights to the estate at all.

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Topics: Estate Planning, will in massachusetts

Beta Test the Latest Innovation in Estate Planning

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 20, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Up until now, you've had two options for your estate planning: Go to a do-it-yourself site like LegalZoom or work with an attorney who will customize your plan to meet your circumstances. Most people are afraid to fly solo online and many feel that they do not need the one-on-one attention, or cost, of an attorney. That's why we are creating a third option.

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Topics: Estate Planning, will in massachusetts, trusts

10 Reasons to Review Your Estate Plan

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 13, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Estate planning attorneys always advise clients to review their estate plans every five to ten years, but who does that? Most people prepare an estate plan when they have children, again when they near retirement, and finally when and if they or a spouse becomes ill or begins to show signs of dementia. If you prepare and update your plan at these three junctures, you and your family will probably be in good shape. But if you don't, there's a strong likelihood that your documents will be out-of-date when needed, causing extra cost, delay and stress to your family.

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Topics: Estate Planning

Beware Your Old Bypass Trust

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 7, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Very few people need to worry about federal estate taxes today with the threshold for taxation now at $5.45 million (in 2016) and surviving spouses permitted to add on the unused portion of their deceased spouse's credit through "portability." Yet many people have estate tax planning trusts put in place when the threshold was much lower and before portability was enacted. As recently as 2003 the threshold was $1 million and before 1998 it was just $600,000.

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Topics: trusts, Estate Planning, capital gains taxes

Bowie Yes, Prince No: More Lessons from Celebrity Estates

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on May 3, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

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Topics: Estate Planning

EXPANDED ESTATE RECOVERY – We Need Your Help By 4/7/16!

Posted by Patricia C. D'Agostino on March 31, 2016

CALL TO ACTION:  This is a call to action to our clients and readers who own their homes jointly with their spouses or with another individual and those who have created life estate deeds.

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Topics: MassHealth, Estate Planning

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