Planning for Life

So You've Been Appointed Trustee, Now What?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 3, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Congratulations.  You have been appointed trustee of a trust.  That is a strong vote of confidence in your judgment and probity.  Unfortunately, it is also a major responsibility.  Following is a short description of your duties.

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Topics: trusts, supplemental needs trusts

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

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

Favorable Decision from Appeals Court on Irrevocable Trusts

Posted by Elizabeth Stepakoff on April 19, 2016

By Sarah Foster

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Topics: trusts, MassHealth planning, MassHealth

Another Trust Bites the Dust, or Why You Should Review Your Plan Periodically

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on April 5, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

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Topics: trusts, MassHealth planning, long-term care planning, MassHealth

Court Says Irrevocable Trust Countable Due to “Use and Occupancy” Right

Posted by Elizabeth Stepakoff on January 22, 2016

By Sarah Foster

In a concerning new decision, Nadeau v. Thorn, a Superior Court judge finds that MassHealth correctly deemed the property in an irrevocable trust as a countable asset due to the fact that the irrevocable trust contained a right to “use and occupy” any property contained in the trust.

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Topics: trusts, long-term care planning, MassHealth

Court Rejects Income-Only Trust Created by MassHealth Applicant

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 5, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

In a poorly-reasoned and somewhat murky decision, a Superior Court judge in Daley v. Sudders (Civil Action No. 15–CV–0188–D.Dec. 24, 2015) extends the Doherty decision to reject the MassHealth application of a man who, with his wife, placed his Worcester condominium into an irrevocable trust for long-term care planning purposes.

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Topics: trusts, long-term care planning, MassHealth

Not Gifting to a Special Needs Child? Recent Case Highlights Risks

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on November 13, 2015

By Karen B. Mariscal

In an effort to preserve government benefits for a child with special needs, parents giving gifts to children will sometimes provide nothing to the child with special needs while giving substantial amounts to the child’s siblings. This planning strategy can lead to trouble, as the recent Wisconsin case of Robbins v. Foseid and Walters illustrates.

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Topics: trusts, special needs planning

Trust Reformation Causes MassHealth Penalty

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 3, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

The Massachusetts Court of Appeals in Needham v. Director of the Office of Medicaid (Mass. App. Ct. 14-P-182, October 20, 2015) rules that the reformation of a trust causes a period of ineligibility for MassHealth coverage of nursing home care.

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Topics: trusts, long-term care planning, nursing homes, MassHealth

Does Pfannenstiehl Case Undermine Asset Protection in Massachusetts?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 22, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

An interesting court decision with an interesting name may undermine the efforts of parents to provide for their children and grandchildren while protecting their inheritance from lawsuits and in the event of divorce. In Pfannenstiehl v. Pfannenstiehl (Mass. App. Ct., Nos. 13-P-906, 13-P-686 & 13-P-1385, August 27, 2015), the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled that a portion of a trust created by the parents of Curt Pfannenstiehl for his benefit and that of his siblings would be considered as a marital asset in his divorce from Diane Pfannenstiehl. This ruling, which undermines centuries of established trust law, was based in part on the equities of the situation and in part on a misunderstanding of wording commonly used in trusts.

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Topics: trusts, asset protection, divorce

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