Planning for Life

7 Reasons You Should Consider A QTIP Trust

Posted by Anthony Bushu on April 26, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

older married couple with lawyer.jpgSo, what's a QTIP trust? "QTIP" stands for qualified terminable interest property. Total legal gobbledygook, right? So forget the words. What it means is a trust that you leave for your spouse that gives him the right to all of the income and limits his right to the principal. Those limits can be total, meaning no right to principal, or minor, meaning simply limited by the HEMS standard (for health, education, maintenance and financial security) or fully available but controlled by a trustee other than your spouse.  

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Topics: trusts, asset protection, Estate Planning, estate taxes

Making Sure the Inheritance for Your Special Needs Child Doesn't Disappear

Posted by Anthony Bushu on February 15, 2017

By Karen Mariscal 

How can you protect the inheritance for your special needs child?  One way is through a supplemental needs trust.  A supplemental needs trust is a special type of trust that both provides management of money for the disabled beneficiary, and maintains the beneficiary’s eligibility for government services. 

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Topics: trusts, asset protection, special needs

Massachusetts SJC Overturns Pfannenstiehl, Affirming Use of Asset Protection Trusts

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 9, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

On August 8th in the case of Pfannenstiehl v. Pfannenstiehl the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court unanimously overturned a lower court decision that had ordered that assets in an irrevocable discretionary trust created by the husband's father be split in a divorce. The SJC in this decision upholds the use of trusts to shelter assets for future generations.

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Topics: trusts, asset protection

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

How to Protect an Inherited IRA

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 27, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

If you leave a 401(k) plan or individual retirement account (IRA) to your spouse, he will be able to roll it in with her own IRA and it will be subject to the same rules regarding minimum required distributions (MRDs) as apply to his own retirement plans. He'll have to begin taking them in the year after he turns 70 1/2. In addition, he will receive the same creditor protection that his other retirement accounts receive, which is that they are protected from creditors in bankruptcy proceedings.

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Topics: asset protection, Retirement Planning

How to Tailor Your Asset Protection Trust

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on December 30, 2014

By Harry S, Margolis

Traditional trust law permits parents to leave funds for their children and grandchildren in a way that protects the inherited assets from creditors, double estate taxation, in the event of divorce, and from being lost to in laws in the event of the death of a child. Depending on which of these goals the the grantor of the trust seeks to achieve, the trust must have one or more features that restrict access and control by the beneficiaries.

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Topics: asset protection

Is an Inherited IRA Protected from Creditors? No!

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 15, 2014

In general under the 2005 Bankruptcy Code, IRAs and other retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s and SEP plans, are protected in the event of bankruptcy by the owner -- one more reason to fund your retirement plan with as much as possible. But what about an inherited IRA? The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided in Clark v. Rameker that they do not enjoy any  bankruptcy protection.

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Topics: asset protection, Retirement Planning, Probate Estate Administration

Will MassHealth Take My House?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 24, 2014

By Harry S. Margolis

I'm often asked whether MassHealth "will take my house" or other assets. A recent posting on, where I answers questions from consumers, reads in part:

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Topics: special needs planning, MassHealth, asset protection

9 (Potential) Problems with Your Trust - Massachusetts

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on December 3, 2013

By Harry S. Margolis

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Topics: trusts, asset protection, Estate Planning, Retirement Planning

18 Tips to Avoid Identity Theft and Scams

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 22, 2013

By Steven J.J. Weisman

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Topics: identity theft, asset protection

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