Planning for Life

What's a Trustee to Do Without Guidance? Provide a Letter of Wishes

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on December 4, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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So you've been appointed trustee. Now what do you do?

Of course, there are your administrative functions in terms of investments, bookkeeping and paying taxes. But how do you decide how much to give each of the beneficiaries? When? For what purposes?

Some trusts are quite simple -- you're directed to distribute the income, invest the principal and distribute what's left when the life beneficiaries pass away.

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Topics: trustee, trusts

To Issue or Children -- An "Issue" of Interpretation

Posted by Alison Blum on September 11, 2018

By Alison Blum

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In 1960, Elizabeth S. Payson executed a will leaving her estate first in trust for her husband and then in trust for the benefit of her daughter, also named Elizabeth. (For purposes of clarity, we''ll refer to the mother as Ms. Payson and the daughter as Elizabeth.) The will directed that after Elizabeth’s death, the net income from a trust should be distributed to Elizabeth’s children (Ms. Payson's grandchildren), until the youngest of these children turned 21. After Elizabeth’s children reached the age of 21, the principal of the trust was to be distributed to Elizabeth’s issue in equal shares.

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Topics: will, trusts, issue

MassHealth Held to Violate Notice Requirements in Trust Cases

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 3, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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In the combined cases of Jean Maas v. Mary Lou Sudders (Suffolk CA No. 18-129-D) and Henry Hirvi and Eva Hirvi v. Mary Lou Sudders (Suffolk CA No. 18-845-D), Superior Court Judge Douglas H. Wilkins finds that in denying applications for MassHealth benefits in cases involving trusts, MassHealth fails to satisfy the requirements of federal regulation 42 C.F.R. sec. 431.210 (b) that it explain the reasons for the denial.

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Topics: MassHealth, trusts, long-term care planning

MassHealth Denial in Trust Case Overturned

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on March 20, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

In a case argued by Margolis & Bloom senior associate Sarah Hartline, the Essex Superior Court has overturned a MassHealth denial of coverage for a nursing home resident who MassHealth found had countable assets available from a trust she had created.attorney-sarah-foster-headshot-1.jpg

The trust in question in Yanow v. Office of Medicaid (Essex Sup. Ct. CA No. 1677CV00599, March 7, 2018), provided for the payment of income earned on trust assets to the grantor, but barred the distribution of any principal to her. Nevertheless, MassHealth argued that due to an administrative provision in the trust which permits the trustee "to determine what part of the trust property is income and what part is principal" the trustee was able to deem all of the trust property "income" and distribute it to the grantor (the applicant for MassHealth benefits).

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Topics: MassHealth, trusts

Be Nice to Your Beneficiaries, or Don't Be Their Trustee

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 16, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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Dad created an estate plan that distributed three quarters of his estate to three of his children and the fourth quarter in trust for one of his daughters, Elaine, and her two children, Paul and Alicia. He named another daughter, Madeline, and her daughter, Paula, as trustees.

Dad died in 2001. The trust for Elaine and her children originally held $542,042. For the next 15 years, Madeline and Paula distributed nothing to Elaine or her children, until 2016 when a court ordered them to make distributions to Elaine so that she "could pay her medical bills and obtain housing." Madeline and Paula did, however, spend more than $50,000 paying for storage of personal items left to Elaine and paid themselves and their attorney.

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Topics: trustee, trusts

Choosing a Trustee for A Child’s Special Needs Trust

Posted by Karen Mariscal on November 7, 2017

by Karen B. Mariscal

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Topics: Special Needs Child, Special Needs Trust, special needs planning, special needs, trustee, trusts

“I’d be Honored”: Paving the Way  For Your Special Needs Trustee - Preparing a Memorandum of Intent

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on October 26, 2017

iStock-587221754.jpgWhen our autistic son was 8 years old, he was a holy terror.  That was true when he was younger than 8 and older than 8 (he settled down around the time of puberty, for which I am eternally grateful), but I am focusing on age 8 right now. We had two younger boys as well, then ages 5 and 4.  So when I asked my sister Laura whether she would be the guardian of our children, and take over if something happened to my husband and me, it was with great trepidation.  Laura knew full well what was going on in our house, and how difficult a request I was making.  She responded, without hesitation, “I’d be honored.”  I have tears in my eyes as I write this, as it never fails to get to me, even 17 years later.

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Topics: Caregivers, Intellectually Disabled, Special Needs Child, Special Needs Trust, trusts, disability, autism, special needs planning

7 Reasons to Create a Family Protection Trust, and 4 Not To

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 26, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

The other day I met with a husband and wife and their adult son to discuss the parents' estate plan. We discussed tax planning, avoiding probate and steps to provide for financial management if either or both spouses become incapacitated.iStock-629864928.jpg

Then I told the son that he and his sister have a choice. When they inherit from their parents they can either have everything distributed outright to them or have it remain in trust for their benefit. We call these "family protection trusts." As I explained to the son, family protection trusts provide the following benefits:

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Topics: Estate Planning, trusts

If Your Trust Isn't Working, Don't Recant, Decant

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 19, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

Two recent cases decided by the Supreme Judicial Court, Morse v. Kraft (466 Mass. 92, 2013) and Ferri v. Powell-Ferri (476 Mass. 651, 2017), have confirmed and arugably expanded the power of trustees to transfer trust assets to new trusts to better carry out the goals of the trust grantors in creating the trusts in the first place. iStock-177700114.jpgThe Ferri case permitted the trustee to transfer funds into a new, more restrictive trust even though the trust beneficiary had the right to withdraw the funds from the original trust, since the trustee had the power to distribute the funds to other beneficiaries.

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Topics: MassHealth, MassHealth planning, trusts

SJC Rejects MassHealth "Availability" Doctrine

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 5, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

In its long-awaited decision in the Daley and Nadeau cases released on May 30th, 2017 ( Daley v. Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (Mass., No. SJC-12200, May 30, 2017) and Nadeau v. Director of the Office of Medicaid (Mass., No. SJC-12205, May 30, 2017)), the Supreme Judicial Court rules that MassHealth cannot count assets owned by irrevocable trusts as available to an applicant for MassHealth unless and only to the extent the trustee may distribute principal to the applicant or his or her spouse. MassHealth had argued that the right of the applicant or his or her spouse to use and occupy a residence owned by a trust makes it available and countable. 

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Topics: MassHealth, MassHealth planning, trusts

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