Planning for Life

Son Permitted to Present Evidence of Will's Validity

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 13, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


A recent decision by the Massachusetts Appeals Court demonstrates the importance, though not absolute necessity, of having your will notarized. In the case In the Matter of the Estate of John J. King (Mass. App. 19-P-1210, September 2, 2020), the Appeals Court overturns a probate court decision rejecting a will that was not notarized, ruling that it should have allowed the presentation of additional evidence as to the will's validity.

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Topics: will in massachusetts, will, intestacy

Deaths in Nursing Homes: How We Let Down Our Older Citizens

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 6, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


In a recent Spotlight Team article, The Boston Globe reports how, at the beginning of the pandemic, the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker neglected nursing homes, their residents and their staff members, providing them with fewer tests, less protective equipment (PPE), and little assistance as compared to richer and more influential Boston-based hospitals. The result is that Massachusetts has the worst death rate among seniors in the nation, accounting for two thirds of all coronavirus deaths in the state.

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Topics: nursing homes, seniors

AskHarry Podcast Episode 1: Planning Steps Seniors Can Take for their Protection

Posted by Estey Masten on September 24, 2020


Welcome Larry Frolik to the AskHarry podcast

The first episode of the AskHarry podcast features retired University of Pittsburg Law School Professor Larry Frolik, who sets the stage for Baby Boomers who may be starting to wonder about how to best plan for the next few decades of their lives. How can seniors set themselves and their families up for stress-free golden years?

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Topics: baby boomers, incapacity, seniors, durable power of attorney, Older Americans, HIPAA release

New York Life Hierarchy of Financial Needs Shortchanges Estate Planning

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 22, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


Taking a page from psychologist Abraham Maslow, who created the hierarchy of human needs above, the New York Life Insurance Company has created a new chart demonstrating the hierarchy of financial needs. It places estate planning at the very top of its pyramid, implying that it's unnecessary until you've satisfied your needs for retirement or earlier financial independence. This demonstrates an unfortunate lack of understanding of the role of estate planning.

Here's how New York ranks financial needs:

  1. Cash flow and basic needs. Just making sure you have enough income to pay your rent and daily expenses, including food.
  2. Financial safety. Having enough in savings to cover your expenses in the event of a job loss or illness. This can also include insurance both to cover health and disability expenses and life insurance to be able to take care of your family. New York Life estimates that less than half of Americans have this in place.
  3. Wealth accumulation. Only when you have the first two needs met can you begin to save money for retirement and future needs or desires.
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Topics: Estate Planning

Don't Miss Out on Your 100 Days of Medicare SNF Care

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 15, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


You probably know that Medicare does not pay for long-term care, just for "medical" care from a doctor or other health care professional or in a hospital. But there's a partial exception to this rule. Medicare will pay for up to 100 days of care in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) as long as the following two requirements are met:

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Topics: Medicare, skilled nursing facility

We're Getting Older, But Not as Old as Some Countries

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 9, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


For better or worse, the world is getting older. In 1950, the median age in the United States was 30 and in Europe, 29. Today, it's 39 and 43, respectively. In the United States, it actually dropped a bit for two decades, with the baby boom, reaching a low of 28 in 1970, before increasing again.

The aging of the world population can be explained by a mixture of longer life expectancies, lower birth rates, and lower child mortality. As borne out in the following chart, these factors have affected the median age in all the world except for Africa.

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Topics: baby boomers, growth of elderly population, Aging Population

Why You Might Want a SECURE SNT

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 15, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


As we've discussed before (here), the SECURE Act, passed at the end of 2019, changed a number of rules regarding inherited IRAs, making it more difficult to "stretch" them for most beneficiaries. However, an exception to the new rules could upend the advice we've often given clients doing special needs planning.

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Topics: special needs planning, Retirement Planning, Special Needs Trust

Health Care Agent Decides on Antipsychotic Medications, Not Court

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 12, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


In Massachusetts, the courts may civilly commit an individual who is of substantial risk to herself and others and may authorize the administration of antipsychotic medications. But if she has a health care proxy, who decides, the court or her health care agent?

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Topics: guardianship, health-care decision making, health care proxy, antipsychotic medications, Rogers proceeding

Appeals Court Case Potentially Undermines Phannenstiehl Protections

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 7, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


The case of Phannenstiehl v. Phannenstiehl (475 Mass. 105, 2016) established the rule that if your parents create a trust for your benefit and leave discretion over distributions in the hands of the trustee, the funds in that trust will not be considered part of the marital estate upon your divorce. (See our description of this case: In Pfannenstiehl Case, MA SJC Affirms Use of Asset Protection Trusts.) A recent Massachusetts Appeals Court decision appears to narrow this rule. 

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Topics: asset protection, divorce, estate taxes

Remaindermen Cannot Force Sale of Property in Life Estate

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 5, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


Owners of real estate sometimes transfer such property to their children while retaining the right to live in the property for the rest of their lives. Such ownership interests are referred to as "life estates" and give the life estate owners the exclusive right to occupy and even rent out the property during their lives. The children, in this case, are referred to as "remaindermen" and they have a real interest in the property, just no right of possession until the life estate owner dies.

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Topics: MassHealth planning, life estate

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