Planning for Life

Digital Estate Planning: Who Should Have Access to Your On-line Accounts?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on March 3, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Facebook has recently implemented a legacy contact to give an individual you name access to some aspects of your Facebook account after you pass away. Google instituted a similar Inactive Account Manager in 2013. Both are responses to an increasingly common dilemma as individuals pass away "owning" many Internet accounts and identities.

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Topics: Estate Planning

How Pushy Should Attorneys Be?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on February 10, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

When I was in law school I took part in a clinic that taught us lawyering skills as an adjunct to the substantive law taught in the other classes. The clinic taught a theory of client counseling that I have moved away from in my actual practice. We were taught to empower clients by explaining the legal consequences of particular choices they might make and based on the information that we provide to leave to the clients to decide how to proceed.

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Topics: Estate Planning

Beneficiaries: By Group or By Person?

Posted by Christina T. Vidoli on February 9, 2015

By Christina T. Vidoli

You want to leave your estate to your kids and grandkids, and you want it divided evenly.
But how?

There are two ways of distributing money -- per stirpes and per capita. You can specify either method in your will, trust, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other estate planning devices. Both are acceptable options when naming beneficiaries, but the possible outcomes can be drastically different from one approach to the other.

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Topics: Estate Planning

5 Estate Planning Tips for the Non-Nuclear Family

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 6, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Do you have a Leave It to Beaver family -- two opposite-gender parents, one or more kids, all healthy and thriving? If so, you can probably use an pretty standard, off-the-shelf estate plan. But if not, it's not as simple and you have a lot of company.

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Topics: Estate Planning, second marriage

What are Trust Protectors and Should You Have One?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 25, 2014

By Harry S. Margolis

Trust protectors have become a more common feature of irrevocable trusts in recent years because they offer flexibility and oversight. Having originated with off-shore trusts that are used primarily to protect assets from creditors, trust protectors are now found in special needs and domestic asset protection trusts and sometimes in trusts used for tax planning purposes.

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Topics: trusts, Estate Planning

7 Ways a Donor Advised Fund Can Help Your Charitable Giving

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 11, 2014

Donor advised funds are charitable foundations that commit to following the advice of donors in distributing their accounts to charities. Many community foundations, such as The Boston Foundation, manage donor advised funds for their contributors. The contributor takes the charitable tax deduction in the year she contributes to the fund even though she may not pass the funds on to charities for several years. Some have questioned this as a public policy matter, but it has certain benefits for the donor.

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Topics: Estate Planning

6 Questions to Ask When You've Been Invited to be Trustee

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 30, 2014

So you have been asked to serve as trustee on the trust of a family member. This is a great honor meaning that the family member trusts your judgment and is willing to put the welfare of the beneficiary or beneficiaries in your hands. However, it is also a great responsibility. You need to go into it with your eyes wide open. Here are six questions to ask before saying "yes":

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Topics: trusts, Estate Planning

What's a Trustee to Do? Providing Guidance

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 16, 2014

People set up trusts for all sorts of reasons: tax avoidance or reduction, financial management in the event of incapacity, probate avoidance, asset protection, and for a child with special needs, just to name a few. In these instruments, the person creating the trust -- the grantor or donor -- lays out all of the rules under which the person or institution managing the trust must operate. Oddly, trusts generally give the trustees little guidance on how to exercise their power to distribute trust income or principal to beneficiaries.

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Topics: trusts, Estate Planning

Health Care Agents Cannot Bind Nursing Home Residents to Arbitration

Posted by Rebecca J Benson on September 9, 2014

The Massachusetts Appeals Court has ruled that an agent named in a health care proxy lacks authority to agree to arbitration on behalf of a nursing home resident in a wrongful death case. Barrow v. Dartmouth Nursing Home (Mass App. Court No. 13P-1375, August 18, 2014). The Court noted that the Supreme Judicial Court had recently defined the standards for authorizing arbitration agreements and distinguished them from other forms of agency authority, including those governing health care proxies and the signing of ordinary nursing home admission agreements. Johnson v. Kindred Health Care (Mass., No. SJC-11335, Jan. 13, 2014); and Licata v. GGNSC Malden Dexter LLC (Mass., No. SJC-11336, Jan 13, 2014) (Click here to learn more about the agreements).

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Topics: nursing homes, Estate Planning, long-term care planning

If You Have No Children, Hire a Lawyer for Your Estate Planning

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 25, 2014

In my blog post last week I provided a checklist for determing whether you need a lawyer for your estate planning, hoping to help readers determine whether they have a "plain vanilla" situation and goals or whether their circumstances and wishes require attorney help.

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Topics: Estate Planning

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