Planning for Life

5 Ways to Divide Tangible Property in an Estate

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 10, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

tangible property - will - estate-planning-Margolis-and-Bloom

When anyone dies, they’re likely to leave tangible personal property, which is what lawyers call anything you can touch, such as furniture, dishes, silverware, artwork and photo albums. The problem with distributing this property is that you cannot do so exactly equally. In addition, many items may have little or no monetary value but significant sentimental value. So how can you be fair. Here are four methods you might use, or in some instances you might use a combination.

  1. Sell. When the estate includes a few items of significant financial worth that can't be equally distributed among heirs, the property might be sold and the proceeds distributed equally as cash. This is what the family of a friend did. His parents had rescued one valuable painting when fleeing Europe before the Holocaust. which he and his sister sold at auction at Sotheby's.
Read More

Topics: Probate Estate Administration, tangible personal property, personal representative, executor

Have You Wondered What You Need to Do as Executor? A Website Provides the Answers

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 28, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

Executor-Will-Margolis-and-Bloom-781-705-6400

If you've been named as executor or personal representative in someone's will, whether the person has recently died or you know you may need to fill this role in the future, you no doubt wonder what the job will entail. While you will likely hire an attorney to help with the process, it's difficult to get a complete picture of all the steps and details.

12 Step Process

A new website, Executor.org, now provides such a comprehensive view and a system of keeping track of where you stand in the process. It works in large part as a series of 12 checklists with explanations of each item on the lists. Its 12 steps are as follows:

Read More

Topics: Probate Estate Administration, personal representative, executor

4 Steps to Protect Your Digital Estate

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on March 26, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

4 steps-to-protecting-digital-estate - margolis-and-bloom

Don't all the conveniences of life sometimes seem just to make life more complicated? This is nowhere more true than with respect to the internet. Whether or not we spend half our lives responding to devices, we all transact a lot of our daily business on line, buying stuff on Amazon, paying our bills through on-line bank programs, stocking up and using airline miles, reallocating our investments, saving photos, watching movies, or planning trips. And that's not even mentioning social media, such as Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, or dating sites.

So, what happens to all your connections and information if you become disabled or die? Who has access? Who do you want to have access, to which sites? For instance, you may want your children to be able to access your financial accounts, but not your dating site.

Read More

Topics: Estate Planning, Probate Estate Administration

Beware the Use of Preprinted Probate Forms

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 27, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

iStock-900373616

The Massachusetts Probate Courts have created useful forms for use in its proceedings, but sometimes the forms don't fit the exactly the facts or situation petitioners want to present to the court. In the case of Leighton v. Hallstrom (Mass. App. Ct. No. 17-P-1335, Nov. 7, 2018), Robert H. Olson of Bridgewater died in 2015 without a will. His first cousin, Dorothy A. Leighton, filed a petition for probate listing herself and two other cousins as next of kin.

Bengt Hallstrom, of Uddevalla Sweden, filed a notice of appearance on which he checked the box saying that he was not objecting to the proceeding. His counsel also sent a letter to Leighton's counsel containing a genealogical chart showing that he was a cousin of Olson on his mother's side. The letter stated "I have not listed it as an objection since it is my understanding by doing so will cause a contest in this matter." In other words, Hallstrom was not objecting to the proceeding, just to the listing of next of kin. A guardian ad litem who was appointed by the court issued a report stating, "The issue of determining heirs can be addressed during the course of the handling of the estate."

Read More

Topics: probate, Probate Estate Administration

2 Reasons Surviving Spouses Should File Federal Estate Tax Returns: Portability and Capital Gains

Posted by Anthony Bushu on March 29, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

With the threshold for federal estate taxes set at $5.49 million this year (it adjusts each year for inflation), very few estates have to file a federal estate tax return. In contrast, the Massachusetts threshold is $1 million, meaning that many more estates must file a Massachusetts return. For estates that fall between $1 million and $5.49 million, it can still make sense to file a federal return if the decedent left a surviving spouse.

This is for two reasons: portability and capital gains step up.

Read More

Topics: capital gains taxes, Probate Estate Administration, estate taxes

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: trusts, Estate Planning, Probate Estate Administration

The Massachusetts Estate Tax on Out-of-State Real Estate: Conflict, Quandary, and New Court Ruling

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 22, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

If a Massachusetts resident dies owning real estate outside of the state or the country, can Massachusetts tax it in your estate? If you look at Massachusetts law, the answer is "yes." This is because the Massachusetts estate tax is calculated as the federal estate tax credit that was available under the federal estate tax in place back in 2000. Since the federal taxable estate includes all the decedent's property wherever held, the Massachusetts tax does as well.

Read More

Topics: Probate Estate Administration, estate taxes

What is Probate and Should You Avoid It?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on March 15, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Probate is the process through which after death your possessions are passed on to whichever individuals and charities you name in your will. If you don't have a will, your property passes under what are called the rules of "intestacy" which means that state law determines who gets what -- essentially your closest relatives.

Read More

Topics: Estate Planning, will in massachusetts, probate, Probate Estate Administration

Governor Baker Seeks to Expand Estate Recovery

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on February 23, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Governor Charles Baker's FY 2017 budget includes a proposal to expand MassHealth estate recovery to include non-probate property. Currently, MassHealth recoups its expenditures from the probate estates of individuals who received coverage of nursing home care or any other MassHealth benefits after age 55.

Read More

Topics: MassHealth planning, MassHealth, Probate Estate Administration

Is an Inherited IRA Protected from Creditors? No!

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 15, 2014

In general under the 2005 Bankruptcy Code, IRAs and other retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s and SEP plans, are protected in the event of bankruptcy by the owner -- one more reason to fund your retirement plan with as much as possible. But what about an inherited IRA? The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided in Clark v. Rameker that they do not enjoy any  bankruptcy protection.

Read More

Topics: asset protection, Retirement Planning, Probate Estate Administration

Subscribe to New Blog Posts

Recent Posts

Most Popular Posts

Posts by Topic

see all