As we all know, tax season has been in full swing for many weeks now, and it is almost over for some. But, did you know that even if you did not have to file a tax return, as a senior, it may be beneficial for you to do so? Did you know there is a tax credit only available to seniors in Massachusetts who pay rent or real estate taxes? There is, and it is called the Circuit Breaker Tax Credit. Even if you don’t owe any taxes at all, you may be eligible for this credit, and it is just like money in your pocket (Certain counties in Massachusetts, including Worcester and Middlesex, have had tax deadlines extended to May 15th, because they have been declared Federal Disaster Areas due to the recent floodings). [Read more…]
Not long ago, I posted a blog on gift transfers and their affect on qualification for MassHealth (Medicaid) for an institutionalized individual. Generally, transferring assets to dispose of property so that you qualify for MassHealth will not actually help you qualify because the state imposes a five-year “look-back” period, in which those assets are counted and used to assess eligibility for MassHealth. Fortunately, there are some exceptions to the general rule. [Read more…]
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…]
Lately, the matter of Brooke Astor’s estate has been covered in the media. Like many people she had an estate plan in place which included a Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy, which nominated subsituted decision makers in the event she would lose the capacity to make important financial and/or medical decisions at some point during her elder years. She did not want to burden her family with obtaining a Guardianship and/or Conservatorship through the courts. She did end up suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and her son took over her financial powers. He just didn’t do a very good job… [Read more…]
Can’t we all just get along?
I see it more and more and it really saddens me: families unable to “get along” when it comes to decision making for elder loved ones. It can be as simple as whether Mom and/or Dad need to meet with an Elder Law Attorney, to concerns over finances and inheritance issues, to whether siblings agree on who should serve as primary caregiver, and/or to whether assisted living/nursing home care is necessary. [Read more…]
Have you ever considered purchasing Long-Term Care Insurance (LTCI) but were unsure because of the seemingly high cost? Have you ever decided that you were willing to fund a LTCI policy just to find out that you were no long eligible? Several States across the nation have been working on expanding LTCI in their jurisdictions to increase coverage and make it more affordable and accessible. Hopefully Massachusetts will follow shortly.
The Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Division of Medical Assistance, commonly known as MassHealth is making a much overdue amendment to their existing regulations. Finally same-sex marriages, which have been recognized in the Commonwealth since late 2003, will be officially recognized by MassHealth. Governor Deval Patrick also signed the MassHealth Equality Bill nearly one year ago.
So what does this mean to spouses in same-sex marriages? They can now receive the same benefits as heterosexual marriages when applying for MassHealth for longterm care, meaning their assets can be considered jointly for eligibility purposes and MassHealth will also not penalize transfers between spouses in same-sex situations, as they currently do for traditional marriages. The definition of “family member” is also slated to be amended under the change. [Read more…]
Last night I spoke at the Lutheran Health Care Center in Worcester. One attendee asked, “How often should I review my current estate plan?” It is very important to review your family’s financial and estate plan at least every 3-5 years. The general rule is that the older you are, the more frequent your reviews should be. [Read more…]
Who do you know that is getting ready to go off to college this fall? Perhaps it’s your own child, a niece/nephew, grandchild, or son/daughter of a friend. Families will soon be shopping for bedding, mini-fridges, Easy Mac, and textbooks. With the myriad of things to be done before the fall, I’ll bet you very few family “to-do” lists include a check off box for Get Junior a Health Care Proxy. This often overlooked necessity is something that should, at the very least, be considered.
When your child turns 18 they are a bona-fide adult and Mom and Dad cannot step in to make medical decisions for their now “adult” children. In Massachusetts, the only document legally recognized to name a substitute decision maker is a Health Care Proxy. However, the overwhelming majority of college students do not have a Health Care Proxy in place. [Read more…]
While some clients book traditional consultations at my office, I always make myself available for home visits with my clients. While the idea of a housecall has gone the way of black & white televisions, I find that meeting clients in their home, on their “turf,” helps make what is usually an emotional process, a bit more comfortable. In their home, clients tend to be more relaxed and at ease. The conversation goes a different way and I can sense the pride they have in sharing their home with someone. Coffee and tea flow more easily and taste better from your favorite mug than a styrofoam cup. [Read more…]