Category Archives: Elder Attorney

Top 5 Reasons to Hire an Elder Law Attorney

What’s the difference between an attorney and an elder law attorney? An elder law attorney can help seniors and their family members plan wills, living trusts and estates, and handle other legal matters. General practice attorneys can handle these matters, too. But there are distinct differences in working with an attorney who has specialized training, knowledge, and expertise in elder law issues. These differences present significant advantages when you choose to work with an elder law attorney. These top 5 reasons to hire an elder law attorney are important to consider as you plan for future needs.

1. Elder attorneys specialize in handling legal matters for senior citizens. While general practice attorneys can also provide these services, they do not focus on a specific age group or population. Hiring an elder attorney means that seniors and their loved ones receive legal assistance that focuses on their particular needs.

2. Seniors often have specific needs that differ from other age groups or physical or mental conditions that can cause difficulties or complexities. Elder attorneys have critical skills and experience to ensure that these factors are taken into consideration in order to provide seniors and their loved ones with the legal help they need. These attorneys can determine a client’s competency in making decisions based on physical or mental conditions, such as dementia or a terminal illness.

3. An elder attorney is familiar with misconceptions about the elderly and their ability to make important decisions. These attorneys are careful to dismiss these misconceptions in order to treat senior clients with respect and avoid making assumptions about their competence. This helps ensure that seniors’ wishes are respected in regards to their will, living trust or estate.

4. An elder attorney for estate planning or other legal services does more than handle these matters. Attorneys who practice elder law are knowledgeable about other key issues that seniors deal with, such as long-term care, housing issues, and finances. These issues can have an effect on legal matters, making it important for them to be factored into legal decisions. Elder lawyers ensure that legal services take these factors into account.

5. Elder law attorneys can usually provide additional assistance to seniors and their loved ones by recommending other types of elder care professionals that might be needed, such as psychologists or social workers. An estate planning attorney or living trust attorney who specializes in working with senior clients typically interacts with other elder care professionals while taking care of legal matters.

Seniors and their loved ones should note that elder law covers a wide range of legal services, including estates planning, probate administration, elder abuse, Medicaid, retirement issues, and conservatorships. It is important to find an elder attorney who offers the specific legal services needed. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Elder Law: When Do I Need an Attorney?

Worried about your parents or relatives as they age? The following situations require elder law legal advice:

Estate Planning

An estate planning lawyer can help your loved one distribute their assets after death while avoiding taxes and liabilities. If your parents have more than $2,000 in assets when they begin receiving nursing home or end-of-life care, they are not allowed to use MassHealth funds until they have exhausted their own wealth. By placing your loved ones’ assets in trusts or in certain types of insurance and annuities, however, estate planning lawyers can exempt their wealth from this requirement, ensuring you a larger inheritance.

Nursing Home Care

Placing your loved ones in a nursing home is as difficult financially as it is emotionally. If your parents cannot pay for their own care, Massachusetts law requires you to reimburse Medicaid for their nursing home costs. To avoid these costs, you will either have to prove that your parents did not support you in your youth or that you do not have sufficient means.

Age Discrimination

If your loved ones continue to work in their old age, they may be vulnerable to age discrimination. Employers often try to force their elderly employees to retire or deny them standard raises and opportunities, making it difficult for the elderly to maintain steady employment. Age discrimination is illegal, but often difficult to prove. If you believe your loved ones are suffering from discrimination, consult a lawyer and gather as much evidence as you can of mistreatment. You may have cause for legal action.

For more information, contact us today!

Seven Tips for Planning for Retirement: Insights from a Massachusetts Elder Attorney

Now is the right time to start saving for retirement and preparing your estate. Whether you’re a teenager just starting your first job or a seasoned employee with decades of work experience under your belt, the funds you set aside now will make a huge difference in how comfortable you are during your golden years. And it will save your family endless hours of stress and grief if you also plan your will now.

To help you get the ball rolling, here are seven tips that can help you make the most of your savings strategy:

  1. Know how much you will need. Financial consultants offer easy-to-use tools that will estimate how much you will need at a set age, and how much you should set aside on a regular basis to reach that goal. Using one of these calculators can help you to map out your savings strategy. Seeking the advice of a Massachusetts elder lawyer or estate planning attorney can be immensely helpful as well.
  2. If you work for someone else, then inquire with the human resources department about whether the company offers a 401(k), a traditional pension, or other long-term savings vehicles. Not only do these offer significant tax advantages, the money usually comes directly out of your paycheck, making this perhaps the easiest way there is to save for retirement.
  3. If you’re self-employed, then look into starting a self-employed IRA, also known as a SEP-IRA. These are program set up by the government that offer those who work for themselves many of the same advantages that employees enjoy with a 401(k).
  4. Budget how much you’ll need between now and retirement to reach your savings goal, and adjust the rest of your finances to fit around that amount. While exercising this self-discipline may be difficult at times, doing so is essential for enjoying a comfortable retirement. In time you will thank yourself for the sacrifices you make now.
  5. Don’t count on Social Security to be there when you need it. To stay solvent, the government has already adjusted the minimum retirement age for Social Security recipients more than once. In the future, it’s possible that benefit amounts and other features of the program will be adjusted multiple times.
  6. Explore ways to save money without reducing your current lifestyle. For example, you may forgo eating out at a restaurant once a week, directing the money you save into your retirement account. Some consumers clip coupons, buy in bulk, and use other tricks to keep more money in their bank accounts. You’ll find plenty of Internet sites that explain how these techniques work.
  7. Take some time to imagine all the things you would like to do when you’re retired. Imagine yourself traveling the country in an RV, sightseeing Europe, or whatever matches your interests and passions. It’s amazing how taking the time to do this can supercharge your motivation, making it easier to save for retirement.Keep in mind the need to plan for final expenses as well; a living trust attorney can offer specific guidance on this important matter.

By following these handy tips, you’ll find yourself well on your way to meeting your long-term financial goals. Good luck and happy saving!

Understanding the Mediation Process in Elder Care Law

The ultimate goal of any mediation process for elder care law, a Massachusetts elder law attorney will tell you, is to ensure the needs and desires of the individual are met above anyone else’s desires. This is a private, less expensive method for preserving the overall desires of the individual while ensuring legal standards are met as well.

The process involves bringing together those who need to make decisions about their property and estate and want to do so in a legally binding manner. This area of law can focus on a range of topics, not just estate planning and wills, but also in Medicaid benefits, retirement benefits, planning for end of life, and working through issues related to disability. For families, including the children of the aged individual, taking steps to get into this process is often a very good decision. Not only does it reduce worry and risk, but it also helps the family to know that the loved one’s wishes are being met.

There is no law that states when elder care needs must be met, nor when mediation is necessary. However, there is little reason to put off such an event. Coming together with a trusted attorney is the best way to safeguard your needs. You can meet with a Massachusetts nursing home attorney to discuss your needs and questions long before you make decisions, too. This gives you the best opportunity to learn about your options.

How Does Mediation Work?

In short, you and your family come in to meet with an attorney who discusses with you the rules of the state as well as your rights. You learn about the factors that affect you, including your estate planning concerns, estate, and wills. Then, you make decisions to protect your desires.

There is no reason not to meet with a Massachusetts elder law attorney to discuss your situation and needs. We can help you to get questions answered while also guiding you in the legal process.

Powers of Attorney Basics

massachusetts-elder-law-power-of-attorneyA power of attorney is a document that gives a designated person known as an “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” authority to act on behalf of another person (principal) with respect to specific assets, financial and legal decisions. A power of attorney can be limited in scope or broad in scope. If it is broad in scope it is known as a general power of attorney. The power of attorney should contain the language to keep it in effect while the principal is incapacitated, but should be prepared while the person is still competent. Each power of attorney must conform to the laws of the state. It is best prepared by an elder law attorney or estate planning lawyer with experience in elder law. In a power of attorney, a Massachusettes elder law attorney should identify the desired persons to have authority to act on behalf of the principal. The document should detail powers related to long-term care planning and government benefits like Medicaid and veteran’s benefits. The document should also be tailored to specific kinds of assets owned by the principal.

Your estate planning lawyer will help you decide whether your unique situation requires an immediate or a springing power of attorney, which means it is triggered by the incapacity of the principal. Keep all powers of attorney in an accessible but relatively secure location that the agent can access when needed. A copy and/or the original should be kept on file in the office of your elder lawyer. The power of attorney automatically terminates on the death of the principal.

Ten Reasons to Consult an Estate Planning Attorney

Helping your elderly parents face the financial and health-related challenges that come with growing older can put quite a strain on your other responsibilities. Enlisting the help of the right professionals leaves you with more time to spend with your family. Since there are complex state and federal regulations regarding wills and other paperwork necessary for settling an estate, it is best to consult an experienced estate planning attorney. There are ten specific benefits to working with an elder lawyer.

1. Ensure the last will and testament of your parent or relative is legally binding and properly designated.

2. Designate a power of attorney contract to ensure the right person is responsible for making medical and financial decisions if the person becomes incapacitated.

3. Create a living will. Living wills help your elderly relatives make their wishes clear and save you a lot of stress when the time comes for difficult decisions.

4. Avoid mistakes. A practicing estate planning lawyer can craft a strong will that covers all the bases, while most packages designed to help you do it yourself lack coverage of crucial areas.

5. Handle any business or investment transfers smoothly and without delays.

6. Address complex situations where blended or extended families are involved. Planning the estate is much more complicated if your elderly relatives have had more than one marriage.

7. Minimize the taxes heirs will need to pay by choosing the right type of trust.

8. Update and change any existing wills and estate paperwork. Changing laws and family structures make old agreements insufficient very quickly.

9. Take care of disabled family members for their rest of their life. A good probate lawyer can help craft a plan that ensures that the people in your family with special needs never go without support.

10. Make the process easier. Planning an estate is stressful for both the elderly and their helpers, but an experienced professional helps.

Top 5 Ways to Reduce Estate Taxes in Massachusetts

estate_tax_planningEstate taxes can take quite a chunk out of one’s inheritance, but there are a few ways to reduce them without getting on the wrong side of the law:

1. Charitable Transfers

Not only is giving to charity good for society, it can really reduce the level of estate taxes. This is mainly because these transfers are considered a means of reducing the total estate size. An estate planning attorney may suggest that you provide a lifetime gift in order to also reduce income taxes.

2. The Q tip trust allows married couples to reduce their estate taxes. It helps the couple to take full advantage of all federal and state exemptions. After the first spouse dies, the estate is split into three separate parts. One part is placed in a credit shelter trust. The second piece is placed in a marital trust. And the final portion can be passed directly to the surviving spouse. Depending on the age of the spouse, a nursing home attorney may be used to help divert this money to needed care.

3. Special Needs Trust

As estate holders grower older, they are more likely to become disabled. With the help of an elder attorney, a disabled senior is eligible to put money into a special needs trust for use in paying medical bills. Not only does this allow those with special needs to pay for expensive treatment, it reduces the total level of taxation on the estate.

4. Family-Owned Business

If you own a family business, your estate planning lawyer will advise you to use that information when planning your estate. There is a federal deduction allowed to those working in family-owned businesses. However, a family business needs to meet a number of specific qualifications in order to be eligible for the tax deduction. First, the business needs to be located in the United States and the owner or owners must be United States citizens. Next, the decedent must have worked with the business for at least five years and must own at least half of it. The resulting interest deduction may not be worth founding a new family business for, but it can help out greatly if you already own one.

5. Actual Use

This type of estate savings is one of the most difficult to come by, and will definitely require the expertise of a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer. You may already have noticed that real estate is valued at its highest possible value. For some people, this results in land being valued higher than it actually should be. Special permits can be obtained to lower the value to its “actual use,” thus allowing estate owners to pay a far lower tax rate than would otherwise be possible.

For more information, please contact the Law Offices of Adam Tobin, today!

What is the Difference between Personal Property and Real Property

Let your Massachusetts Estate Planning Lawyer help you with real property.

Let your Massachusetts Estate Planning Lawyer help you with real property.

When it comes to estate planning, the most important step is to find an elder law attorney. It helps to have an impartial mind at work to make sure your assets are taken care of properly. A Massachusetts elder lawyer can help with wills, set up trusts and making sure that documents concerning transfer of property are done correctly. Most importantly, you’ll be able to ask questions throughout the process. One topic of discussion with your estate planning lawyer will be the difference between personal property and real property. Both are defined by Federal Law.

Real property is your land and any structures you have built on that land. This can include your home, commercial and/or agricultural buildings. As an example, if you own a farm, your real property includes the acreage of that farm and all buildings on that farm.

Personal property includes all other property, such as cars, boats, clothing and furniture as well as stocks, bonds, bank accounts and other personal items. Going back to the farm analogy, your barn would be your real property, but your tractors and other farm equipment would be considered personal property. Changing this to a city scenario, your house is real property, but all the furniture, appliances (except built-in) and your car are personal property.

It is important to understand this concept when planning your estate. When land is transferred, whether by sale or inheritance, by law all real property is included in that transfer. Unless there is a specific agreement, personal property is not included. Your estate planning lawyer will make sure that the details of your estate outline any such special agreements.

Planning an estate can be a complicated issue. Some of the forms, particularly to do with the transfer of property, are complex and there is no room for error. Protect your family’s future, and preserve your peace of mind by getting an elder lawyer to help with that planning. Contact the Law Offices of Adam Tobin.

Tips For Making Your Estate Planning a Smooth Process

estate-planning-paperworkIf you feel that the time has come for you, or an elderly loved one, to truly finalize your estate planning, the time is now to contact an elder law attorney or an estate planning lawyer. When you go for your consultation with a Massachusetts living trust attorney, it is important to have in mind an idea of how you would like your estate planning to go. Below are some useful tips and guidelines that will help you as you work with your Massachusetts elder lawyer.

1. Consider including a simultaneous death clause, which will pass your estate onto your children in the event that your spouse dies shortly after you do.

2. In order to disinherit a child, you must spell that out in your will.

3. Remember to keep beneficiaries on your pension, life insurance and 401K current.

4. Be sure to designate an executor as well as a back up executor.

5. Store your personal and private information in one designated location in the home, preferably a fire proof safety deposit box. This box should include important personal and financial records, as well as computer passwords and PIN numbers.

6. Understand the impact of estate taxes and discuss with your estate planning attorney some options for reducing or avoiding estate taxes.

Remember that upon your death, your family and loved ones will be going through an emotionally taxing as well as stressful time, and you will help them considerably by having your affairs in order. It is important to recognize that with age comes certain responsibilities, and that the sooner you have your estate and other affairs in order, the better off you and your loved ones will be. Contact an elder attorney with any questions you might have regarding Massachussetts and even federal law, and set up an appointment to begin the process of finalizing your affairs. You will feel at ease, and your family will be glad to know that an already taxing time will be much less stressful because of your willingness to work ahead.

The Dangers of a Do-it-Yourself Last Will

do-it-yourself-last-willA do-it-yourself will sounds like a simple and inexpensive way to let your loved ones know your wishes in the event of your death. Doing your own will at home, however, may end up leading to avoidable problems such as taxation and court battles. Do-it-yourself wills may seem like a good deal, but the money put out later could cost a lot more than using an estate planning lawyer to draw up your documents.

Do-it-yourself wills may prove to be invalid if you do not follow all state and federal laws. For instance, if you used a witness with an invested interest in your estate, the will may not hold up in court. It must also be proven that the signatures found on the will were properly witnessed. Also, if the original will can’t be produced, your wishes may not be followed. An estate planning lawyer typically stores your will in a fireproof location to ensure the original can be produced in court. An estate planner could also be called into court and testify about the validity about the claims included in the will.

The language used in the will must be perfect for claims to be valid. As an example, a court could interpret the wording wrong and subject your assets to costly estate taxes. Estate taxes can deplete the funds you leave behind for your beneficiaries. Instead, meet with an estate planning attorney to go over the language and inclusions of your documents to prevent will contests. Otherwise, your family may then be forced into a legal battle and be forced to pay an exorbitant amount of court and probate lawyer fees.

The biggest downfall of a do-it-yourself-will package? You don’t receive personalized advice from an estate planning attorney. The will software packages can provide general advice, but won’t be helpful if you have a more unique situation. Will software packages are not likely to provide you with guidelines on how to handle domestic partnerships, children from other marriages, disinherited children or special needs children. As an example, a stepfather who claims in his do-it-yourself will to leave all his assets to his children may find his stepchildren cut out of any inheritance money he meant for them. Also, living trusts and power of attorney are not usually properly handled in online will programs. In these cases, set up a consultation with a living trust attorney.

Do-it-yourself will software packages may require you to fix errors later on. Get your will right the first time by meeting with a licensed and professional estate planning attorney. Reduce family conflict by clearly stating your wishes and keeping the proper documentation stored with a lawyer. The Law offices of Adam Tobin is waiting to hear from you to create your legal and valid last will and testament.