Occasionally, I run across a great article written by someone else. Today is one of those days and I just had to share it with you. Clients are often confused when they come in for initial consultations and have preconceived notions about planning their estates based on things that they’ve heard from their friends, neighbors, hairdresser, etc. Most of the time the information shared is incorrect, or at least incorrectly applied to their situation. This article does a great job of debunking the most popular “myths” of estate planning. I only added one little thought in bold below. Thank you to my colleague, Attorney Gina Barry, from Bacon & Wilson in Springfield for putting this article together…. and as far as I know unicorns are still mythical creatures. [Read more…]
There are several websites that offer customized, do-it-yourself wills and other estate planning documents. These computer-based services appear to offer the consumer a cost-effective and convenient alternative to visiting an Estate Planning or Elder Law attorney. Or do they? Is online estate planning worth the convenience and initial savings? How do the documents created compare to those that a qualified attorney would produce? [Read more…]
On February 23, 2010, the US Bankruptcy Court in Massachusetts finally did what the Massachusetts state legislature has been unable to do for years: the court ruled that the Massachusetts Homestead Exemption is applicable to an owner whose property is in a revocable trust. Since this decision, In re Rodrigues, Bankr. D. Mass. Case No. 09-11960-JNF, the legislature has been working to pass a new statute that will replace Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 188, the statute concerning homesteads. The legislature is very close to passing a new law. Today we will review the Rodrigues decision, the pending Massachusetts legislation, and how it may be beneficial to you. [Read more…]
Hardly a day goes by when I don’t have a client who tells me that they can give away a certain amount of money free and clear, avoiding look-back periods for long-term care planning. They inform me that their neighbor, friend, or cousin told them that this is allowable. I then have the unfortunate task of telling them that they are wrong and that most states that have enacted the Deficit Reduction Act. After February 8, 2006, the rules relative to gifts changed.
Regardless of the amount, any gift that is made is a transfer and is subject to a look-back period of five-years for MassHealth (Medicaid) purposes. This doesn’t mean that the State will take that money, but rather, that the State will not pay for the donor’s long-term care costs until the five-year look-back is exhausted, or in the alternative, until all the gifts that have been transferred are used to pay for the institutionalized person’s care. [Read more…]
How often do you feel like you know what your state legislators are doing? The whole process can be mysterious and confusing. This week I would like to shed some light on the subject and tell you about a potentially helpful piece of legislation currently pending in the Massachusetts state legislature.
The proposed law would change the way assets are counted when determining whether a spouse in a nursing home, or certain other institutions and community based programs, is eligible for medical assistance through MassHealth (Medicaid). For MassHealth purposes, the spouse in the nursing home is called the “institutionalized spouse” and the spouse still living at home is referred to as the “community spouse.” Currently, under Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 118E, subsection 21A, many different types of income and asset types of both spouses are considered countable for purposes of determining eligibility. The total amount of countable income and assets are major factors the Division of Medical Assistance takes into account when determining if the institutionalized spouse is eligible for medical assistance from the Commonwealth (MassHealth/Medicaid). [Read more…]
It’s estimated that two-thirds of American households currently have at least one pet, a number that has steadily increased in the last 60 years. With more pets comes a growing industry devoted to helping Americans better care for, and even indulge, their pets, has developed. Businesses that provide pet day care, pet sitters, grooming, spa services, and even pet cemeteries have become common.
Many even consider pets part of their family, a sort of child, brother, sister, or at the very least, friend. Since so much love and attention is given to these fury and feathery companions, many wish to provide for their animals in the event that they become incapacitated or die before their pet. With family greed, skepticism, and fraud on the rise, many seek a better solution than hoping Junior will “do the right thing.” As a matter of fact, owner death and/or disability is one of the top reasons that animals end up in Shelters across the country. [Read more…]
The following is a repost of a blog recently written by Attorney Dale Krause of Krause Financial Services. Attorney Krause is also a fellow member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).
An Irrevocable Trust can offer a grantor lifetime control over his or her assets of the trust is established with the following provisions:
- All taxable income shall be disbursed to the grantor;
- The grantor shall have the right to direct how the trust assets are held or reinvested; and
- The grantor shall have a limited power of appointment over the final distributions of the trust; this power shall be in favor of a limited class of beneficiaries, consisting of the grantor’s children and grandchildren; the disbursements do not have to be in equal amounts or shares. [Read more…]
Who wants to ring in the New Year with uncertainty? Well, that’s what Congress did by not getting around to extending the estate tax before December 31, 2009. Many experts believed this would NEVER happen. I discussed this in several past blog entries in September and December of last year.
Flashback to 2001: At that time, a largely Republican coalition in Congress tried to repeal the estate tax completely, but they were unable to get past a filibuster. So, instead, the changes were put into the tax code when then-President George W. Bush signed a bill that was designed to phase out the estate tax so that by January 1, 2010, the estate tax would no longer exist. However, since this was done through the tax code, Congress would have to revisit the changes within ten years, or the estate tax would come back into effect on January 1, 2011, at a higher rate. Generally all experts in the field believed that Congress would act and not allow the estate tax to disappear completely in 2010. But, Congress was so busy debating health care reform this fall that we have entered 2010, and the estate tax is temporarily gone. [Read more…]
Resolutions abound as the New Year quickly approaches. Each year we make a pact with ourselves to make lifestyle changes for the better. Whether it is to exercise more, skip the daily fast-food lunch breaks, or give up bad reality television, the intentions are always good, though often we do not follow through. How many times have we seen the new year rush at the local gym, but notice the crowds slowly dwindle come the beginning of February? [Read more…]
Tick, tick, tick… The clock is ticking for Congress to act to extend/amend the current estate tax laws. They have about three weeks to prevent the federal estate tax to disappear all together in 2010. Experts agree that it is unlikely for Congress not to act.