When you are preparing for retirement and beyond, considering how you will pay for long-term care should be an important part of your overall plan. Yet, too often people neglect to provide for long-term care and find themselves having to either self-insure or spend down their assets to qualify for Medicaid. This piece from NPR highlights some of the pitfalls. [Read more…]
Is Your Loved One in Nursing Home or Long-Term Care for Alzheimer’s or Dementia? New Massachusetts Legislation Will Regulate Care
These days it can be difficult to meet someone whose life has not been touched by Alzheimer’s. Most people have seen a parent, grandparent, or perhaps an in-law suffer from this disease, and the havoc it can wreak on the family.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 120,000 have Alzheimer’s in Massachusetts and that number will grow as baby boomers age. Nearly 50% of those aged 85 and older will develop Alzheimer’s, and of those aged 65, nearly 1 in 8 will develop the fatal disease.
Until very recently, there was even more for Massachusetts families to worry about. Before bill H 3947 was signed into law by Governor Patrick this week, nursing homes could advertise dementia or Alzheimer’s care without actually having any special accommodations for residents suffering from these conditions or any kind of special training for their staff. [Read more…]
What Really Happens to Your Estate if You Die Without a Will in Massachusetts?
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…]
Pet Trusts Arrive in Massachusetts
I’ve written about Pet Trusts in a previous blog. They have many benefits for pet owners concerned about what would happen should their animal outlive them. However, until recently, Pet Trusts were not available in Massachusetts. New Massachusetts legislation took effect on April 7th, 2011, bringing this important Estate Planning tool to the Bay State. The remainder of this week’s blog was edited from an article written by Attorney Gina Barry of Bacon Wilson, P.C. in Springfield. [Read more…]
How the New Massachusetts Safe Driving Law Affects You or Your Elderly Loved One
The Safe Driving Law has officially become effective in Massachusetts as of Sept. 30, 2010. Massachusetts now joins an increasingly growing number of states that ban texting while driving. However, a major part of this bill is also targeted at elderly drivers who are over the age of 75.
On June 2, 2009, a 93-year-old driver hurt a mother and toddler in a stroller when he drove his car into a Danvers Wal-Mart. He stepped on the gas pedal because he thought he was stepping on the brake. The next day, a 73-year-old Middleboro driver accidentally drove her minivan into a crowd of people attending a Vietnam War Memorial in Plymouth. As a result, eight people went to the hospital. Read this blog for more information. In an effort to reduce the number of accidents involving elderly drivers, Massachusetts legislators passed the new Safe Driving Law. [Read more…]
Rodrigues Case and Pending Massachusetts Legislation Make Homestead Protection for Trusts a Reality (Finally!)
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…]
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…]