Dying without a Will is called dying “intestate”. What this means is that your intentions as to who inherits your assets, who administers your estate, and who acts as guardians for any young children are determined by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is often said that if you don’t have an estate plan, the Commonwealth has one for you. And as of January 2nd, 2012, the Commonwealth has an updated plan for you! That’s when the last phase of the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (MUPC) takes effect. [Read more…]
More Protection Than a Health Care Proxy Alone?! MOLST – a Pilot Program in Worcester
Some people think that Elder Law and Estate Planning attorneys are only useful further down the road. They think, “I’m healthy. I don’t need to worry about those things now.” Even while you are healthy, there is one document that everyone over the age of 18 should have in place: a Health Care Proxy (HCP). A health care proxy is necessary to ensure that someone, a health care agent, will be available to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them on your own because you are incapacitated. Currently, in Worcester County, another form is also worth considering: the Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) form. This medical order works with the HCP to inform your health care agent and your doctors what you actually want to happen in various circumstances. [Read more…]
Safe Driving Bill Approved by Massachusetts House of Representatives
On February 4, 2010, the House of Representatives in Massachusetts amended and approved a bill dealing with safe driving in the Commonwealth. If passed by the Massachusetts Senate, this bill will have a direct impact on the senior citizens of Massachusetts because it will require drivers over the age of 75 to renew their licenses every 5 years instead of every 10 years.
Issues concerning elderly driving have been in the news on and off for many years now, but after a series of accidents involving elder drivers last year, the state legislature is looking to make some changes. The current bill does not just involve seniors though. It also seeks to completely ban text messaging by all drivers, and it provides for higher penalties for drivers under the age of 18 who are caught using cell phones while driving. [Read more…]
Proposed Massachusetts Legislation Could Change the Way Assets are Counted for MassHealth
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…]