Planning for Life

Harry S. Margolis

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Inequality of Aging Baby Boomers to Create Huge Challenge for the U.S.

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on December 3, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

baby-boomers-aging-masshealth-margolis-and-bloom

The future of most members of the Baby Boomer generation portends poorly. They have not escaped the income and wealth inequality experienced by the rest of the U.S. population and, as a result, most will have insufficient resources to fund their later years, especially if they fall ill.

According to a study recently released by Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies, the annual income the top 10% of earners over 65 has grown 55% in constant dollars over the last 30 years. That of the bottom 10% has grown 11%. The income of the median senior in the United States has grown 40% over the same period of time $31,000 to $41,000 a year (in constant 2017 dollars)

Income Disparity Among Older Households - Harvard JCHS - Older Adults Report 2019

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Topics: baby boomers

The Pernicious Unfairness of MassHealth Estate Recovery

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 26, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

MassHealth-Estate-Recovery-Margolis-and-Bloom

Medicaid (MassHealth in Massachusetts) is health insurance for people who can't afford to buy private insurance. But its coverage is much broader than that of private health insurance including coverage of long-term care costs, paying for nursing home care and in some instances for assisted living and home health care. To qualify, you have to satisfy very complicated financial eligibility rules, rules that often can be traps for the unwary.

One of the most significant traps is Medicaid's right to recover its expenses from your estate after you die. Since about the only asset you're allowed to own and still get Medicaid coverage is your home, this right of estate recovery is the state's claim against your home. In other words, if you own a home, Medicaid is really a loan. It will pay for your care, but your house will have to be sold when you die to repay the state for the care it provided.

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Topics: estate recovery

The Ultimate Juggling Act: Working, Raising Children and Caring for Aging Parents

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 19, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

Working-Daughter-Aging-Elder-Care-Margolis-and-BloomManaging raising children while holding down a full-time job is a challenge for all parents. Add in caring for aging parents and it can feel more like a vise than the proverbial sandwich. Dedham-based marketing executive Liz O'Donnell has written a book, Working Daughter: A Guide to Caring for Your Aging Parents While Making a Living, and started a website, www.workingdaughter.com, both aimed at helping daughters of elderly parents better manage the pressures coming at them from all directions. Both are based on O'Donnell's own experience trying to care for her parents, raise her children and meet the requirements of a demanding job. They are full of good advice for other daughters (and sons) facing the same challenges.

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Topics: caregiving, Caregivers

How Does MassHealth Calculate Life Estates?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 12, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

life-estates-margolis-and-bloom-masshealth-remaindermen

Life estates have long been a prime long-term care planning device for protecting the home from MassHealth estate recovery because they're quite simple to create. MassHealth recently changed its rules in terms of how it measures life estates when they are created or when property held in a life estate is sold.

What is a Life Estate?

A life estate is a form of joint ownership of real estate where ownership interests are divided by time. The so-called "life tenant" has the right to occupy the property during his or her life and to collect any rental income earned from the property. The life tenant also has the obligation of maintaining the property.

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Topics: MassHealth planning, MassHealth, life estate

You Don't Have to Be a Senior to be a Scam Victim

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 5, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis


Scam-Margolis-and-Bloom-Protect-Yourself

I recently interviewed Steven Weisman about scams aimed at seniors for my podcast, AskHarry. Steve is of counsel to our firm is an expert on how you can protect yourself from scams. His motto, at least in terms of scams, both on line and off: "Things aren't as bas as you think, they are far worse . . ." I strongly recommend his website, Scamicide.com, where he reports on scams occurring nationwide.

In talking with Steve, I was reminded of how I almost became the victim of a scam. We had visited old friends in New York and before we went out for dinner Robin called to order in some food for her daughter. I was very impressed that she knew her credit card number by heart. So, I went home and memorized mine.

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Topics: scams

Aging 2.0 Conference in Boston Paints Challenging Picture for Hub Baby Boomers

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 29, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

Elder-care-aging-support-margolis-and-bloom-wellesley

 

Organized by the indefatigable Tim Driver, founder of RetirementJobs.com, the Age Friendly Foundation, and AgeFriendly.com, hundreds of aging professionals, academics, medical providers, journalists and government leaders met at the Seaport Hotel on October 23rd to discuss the future of aging in Massachusetts. Driver's incredible slate of presenters included Mayor Marty Walsh, Governor Charlie Baker, industry leaders, Boston Red Sox President Sam Kennedy, and Alexander Kalache, MD, Co-President of the International Longevity Centres Global Alliance.

There were a few common themes about the challenges of our increasingly older population voiced by speakers from many different perspectives:

  • Inequity is a big problem; the wealthy can buy the care they need, there are some programs for the poor, and not much for the vast majority of Americans.
  • We have over-medicalized elder care and invested too little in social supports; this is a very expensive approach.
  • We operate too much in silos, health care professionals not talking to social service providers, who are not talking to private industry.
  • Social isolation versus participation in community is a big determinant of our welfare as we age.
  • Any solution will have to come through public-private partnerships.
  • Workforce -- If we don't expand and better train and compensate the workforce that provides care to seniors, nothing else will work.

Here are some of the highlights:

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Topics: Caregivers, Aging Population, aging

Massachusetts Scores in Middle of Ranking of Best States for Aging

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 23, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

massachusetts-aging-margolis-and-bloom

For those of us in Massachusetts who expect our state to score high in every state-to-state competition, the recent US News & World Report ranking of the best states for aging is a disappointment. In a ranking that doesn't even takes into account our winter weather, we rank 27th out of the 50 states.

The ranking takes into account several factors, including the quality of nursing homes and medical care, life expectancy and the cost of living. We score well on life expectancy (12th), Medicare quality (4th), percentage of seniors who are able bodied (15th), and primary care (6th).

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Topics: Aging Population, demographics

SNT vs. ABLE Account: Which Makes More Sense for You

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 15, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

ABLE Accounts and Special Needs Trusts - Margolis -and-Bloom

We have prepared a handout to assist beneficiaries of Supplemental Security Income and other public benefits programs to determine whether they're better off using ABLE accounts or special needs trusts, or both.


Both ABLE accounts and SNTs permit the beneficiary to maintain eligibility for public benefits programs will being the beneficiary of funds held in reserve, but both also have their advantages and drawbacks. Here are a few of them:

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Topics: special needs planning, supplemental needs trusts, Special Needs Trust, ABLE Accounts, Attainable Savings Plan, Supplemental Security Income

Should Landlord-Tenant Laws Apply to Assisted Living Facilities?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 1, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

Assisted-living-laws-margolis-and-bloom

A case before the Supreme Judicial Court will either affirm or block the application of landlord-tenant protections to assisted living residents. At immediate issue in the case is whether assisted living facilities can charge so-called "community fees," that are extra payments that don't fall within the limits of landlord-tenant laws on first and last months' rent and security deposits. The lower courts are split on this issue. (Read what we wrote about one of the underlying cases here.)

The Arguments

The assisted living industry argues that landlord-tenant law is preempted by Chapter 19D which provides the rules under which assisted living facilities must comply. Residents' advocates say that there's no preemption because Chapter 19D does not address the rights of facility residents.

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Topics: assisted living regulations, assisted living

Massachusetts Taxes Real Estate in Estates of Non-Residents

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 24, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

massachusetts-real-estate-tax-margolis-and-bloom

That house on the Cape or Martha's Vineyard or in the Berkshires, what happens when the owner dies and is not a Massachusetts resident? Is it subject to the Massachusetts estate tax?

Yes.

And it's a bit complicated.

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Topics: Massachusetts, estate taxes, real estate

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