Planning for Life

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

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

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

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