Category Archives: MA elder attorney

right trustee

Choosing the Right Trustee for Your Living Trust

You don’t need to be a living trust attorney to understand just how difficult estate planning can be. One of the most challenging parts of planning an estate is choosing the appropriate trustee.

An estate’s trustee is the person responsible for managing all assets in your Revocable Living Trust. You can choose to have a person, organization or company represent you as the chief trustee.

It’s important to find someone who will be dedicated to carrying out your wishes, whether or not that person agrees with the direction you’ve chosen for your estate. You also need to find a trustee who will act with complete responsibility. Here are a few other considerations to think about when selecting a trustee:

Trustworthiness

The word “trust” is included in “trustee” for a reason: the trustee must be a person or an organization that you trust, fully and without reservation. The trustee will have a lot of control over your estate, so it would not be prudent to choose someone who you didn’t feel was capable of carrying out that task.

Pros and Cons of Choosing Family Members

Depending on the type of trust you’re holding, your family members may or may not be able to serve as trustee. You’ll want to check with your estate planning attorney to ensure that a family member is eligible to be named trustee. You’ll also want to take the ages of potential trustees into account if you are thinking of naming your children or grandchildren. As in most states, the minimum age to be named a trustee in Massachusetts is 21.

There are certain advantages to choosing a family member as your trustee. The reduced cost is definitely something worth considering. You are likely already paying the fees for a probate lawyer, elder attorney or other professionals. A family trustee would mean one less bill to pay.

The main disadvantage of naming a family member as the trustee is that he or she probably has absolutely no experience in these matters. The responsibilities of trustees have grown increasingly complicated, so you may not feel it is your place to give a family member such as huge responsibility to take care of.

Pros and Cons of Choosing a Professional Advisor

Some people feel that estate planning is best left in the family, but there are certain advantages to hiring a professional to carry out the process. A professional advisor understands the entire estate planning process, and will be more likely to keep all records and information organized. The professional can work closely with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney to keep everything in order.

Although there is some extra cost involved in hiring a professional, you may actually end up saving money in the long run. A professional trustee will know how to minimize estate taxes and other costs typically associated with estate planning. In the end, you’ll want to discuss such considerations with your family so that you can make the appropriate decision.

MEDCottage Offers New Elder Housing Option

medcottage

If you’re one of the more than 34 million Americans who’ve been caring for aging adults, you know how difficult this family dynamic can be. There are issues you might need a living trust attorney or elder law attorney to help you navigate, such as your parents’ financial health. You may also find yourself in a situation where your parent is independent but can no longer live completely independently.

If you’re not comfortable with the option of a nursing home but don’t have the room to move parents into your own home, this can be an exceptionally stressful situation. Even if they live nearby, aging relatives may not be able to manage on their own, especially if they are coping with medical conditions. One newer solution is the MEDCottage, sometimes referred to as the Granny Pod.

What is a MEDCottage?

The MEDCottage is today’s answer to the guest house or in-law apartment of the past. In many homes generations ago, families created an in-law apartment for older parents. Or, if they had enough property, they might have had a guest house that elder family members lived in. Many families today might not have those options, but a MEDCottage can offer a great solution.

Also known as a Granny Pod, a MEDCottage is a prefabricated small house that you can install on your own property. The MEDCottage can be decorated to suit the elder who will reside there and it offers instant access to your loved one while still offering privacy to both the elderly relative and the family in the main home. Self-described as “an affordable alternative to nursing homes,” a MEDCottage is designed to be a hospital room combined with a living area complete with a kitchenette.

Benefits to the MEDCottage

  • Proximity to Elderly Relative. Because the Granny Pod can be installed right on your property, you’re never in a situation where your relative is too far away to visit or check in on.
  • Medically Equipped. These structures are equipped with the safety and medical features to meet your loved one’s needs.
  • Maintained Independence. For relatives who can no longer live completely on their own but who value their privacy, the Granny Pod can provide the best alternative to a nursing home or moving into an adult child’s home.

If you’re currently struggling with ways to best meet your elderly parent’s needs without relying on a care facility, a MEDCottage might be worth investigating as a housing option.

Planning for Long-Distance Caregiving

As the Baby Boomer generation enters their twilight years, a large percentage of their children find themselves sandwiched between responsibilities for their own family and their aging parents. For caregivers who live far from their loved one, this dynamic proves particularly difficult. It’s estimated that there are between 5 and 7 million long-distance caregivers (LDCs) in the United States. An elder law attorney can advise both the elderly parent and the LDC about best practices for long-distance care and estate planning.

Often adult children don’t realize that their aging parent needs care or support until some kind of health crisis occurs. Long distances can compound this situation. When elderly parents live more than an hour away, problems may not be noticed immediately. Advance planning is essential. Ideally, the entire family should discuss responsibilities and make decisions in advance, including who will take the lead in care giving and where responsibilities lie.

In this planning stage, family members can determine the best options for care, including moving the parent closer to the caregiver or enlisting the help of in-home care services in the aging parent’s location. Family members should also make decisions about individual LDC roles. Siblings may decide to split responsibilities. One sibling may be better with hiring and monitoring caregivers, while another may choose to coordinate legal planning.

Here are some things to keep in mind as aging parents and long-distance caregivers plan ahead:

  • Respecting the Aging Parent’s Wishes. Many aging parents may need help but want to remain as independent as possible, for as long as possible. It’s imperative that their wishes are taken into consideration with regard to where and how they live.
  • Contacting an Elder Attorney. An elder attorney should be consulted to help with estate planning and to guide the family in legal decisions. It’s important that issues such as the power of attorney for health directives be decided while the parent is able to do so. An elder law attorney can also make sure that the elderly person’s property and financial means are protected, while still providing for their daily needs.
  • Organizing Affairs. It’s important to know where all of the pertinent paperwork is located.
  • Learning About Resources in the Area. Long-distance caregivers should do research to learn about the resources in their elderly relative’s area to find the best in-home care and other services that will benefit them.

Becoming the caregiver for an elderly parent is challenging. In cases where the caregiver lives a significant distance from the parent, the situation can be even more of a challenge. An elder law attorney is an essential element in a long-distance caregiving plan. Contact us today for more information about how we can help you put together a long-distance caregiving plan for your loved one.

 

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.

Your Guide to Medicaid in Massachusetts

 

Before you sacrifice your own money, or your inheritance, to pay for your parents’ nursing home care, ask yourself the following question:

What are my parents’ assets, and what can I do with them?

According to Massachussets law, a person can only use Medicaid if he or she has less than $2,000 in “countable assets.” Certain kinds of assets, however, are exempt from this rule, including irrevocable trusts, long-term care insurance, and some annuities. If your parents have more than $2,000, ask a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer for advice on how to make these assets exempt.

What about my parents’ home?

Owning real estate makes paying for a nurisng home tricky under Massachusetts law. If your parents own a house, and one of them has to live in a nursing home, the house is exempt as long as your other parent continues to live there. You can also get an exemption if one of their children lives there and has a disability. Otherwise, your parents will have to sell it and spend the money on nursing home care before they can use Medicaid.

What are my responsibilities as a child?

Under Massachusetts law, children are required to support their elderly parents. If your parents use Medicaid to pay for nursing home care, the state may ask you to reimburse a portion of these costs. You can get out of this requirement, however, if you lack sufficient means or can prove that your parents didn’t support you in your youth. Ask a Massachusetts elder law attorney if you qualify for these exemptions.

Meta Title: Your Guide to Massachussets Elder Law and Medicaid

Meta Description: Before you put your parents in a nursing home, talk to your Massachusetts nursing home attorney about these three questions.

It’s Never Too Early to Draft a Will: Tips and Information

Making a will doesn't have to be difficult or expensive, but it does take the desire to follow through. If you are working with, or considering finding a Massachusetts elder law attorney or Massachusetts nursing home attorney for the affairs of your aging parents, you will soon discover the value of that decision. An experienced Massachusetts estate planning lawyer can save you untold amounts of stress and money, and provides an amazing amount of peace of mind. You may also discover something you did not expect…that it is never too early to draft a will of your own.

If going through this exercise with your parents has you considering putting your own affairs in order, here are some valuable tips to help you in the process.

  • Choose an appropriate executor. This person should have organizational skills, be detail oriented and should accept the responsibility willingly.
  • Select a back-up executor. A substitute executor will serve in the event you and your primary executor were to die simultaneously. This is quite possible where spouses select each other, but then don’t choose a substitute.
  • Select an experienced attorney.
  • Feel free to make specific legacies to individuals. This can make your desires clear and is a very personal and deep meaning way to recognize those you care about.
  • Keep your will secure and let family members know where it is kept.
  • Make sure your will is properly signed and legally witnessed. Your attorney can help make sure this is done correctly.

Making a will doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, but it does take the desire to follow through. Finding a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer can get you started. If you have questions, concerns or would like assistance with your parents affairs or in setting up your own details, we invite you to contact us. We are experienced, caring, and will help ensure the wishes of you and your parents are fulfilled. We look forward to working with you.

Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney: Finding An Affordable Solution

Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney: Finding An Affordable Solution With a large population of Baby Boomers in the midst of aging and a generation of working adults short on the space and time required to take care of elderly parents, many adult children are on the hunt for a reasonable solution to the ever-present issue of affordable senior housing. This problem becomes all the more important for seniors with significant needs due to illness or disability — circumstances may force such individuals to take up residence in nursing homes.

When it comes to ironing out issues related to nursing home residency, adult children and their senior parents may find themselves seeking the assistance of a Massachusetts nursing home attorney. A qualified Massachusetts nursing home lawyer will understand the many complexities of current federal and state legislation while providing much-needed expertise related to managing a senior’s estate in a way that will allow for the investment in nursing home care. Although a nursing home can be expensive, assistance from a Massachusetts elder law attorney can ensure that a given senior’s assets are utilized to their maximum potential, thus making the resources of an estate last as long as extra care is necessary. After all, given the many questions related to finances and housing options for seniors, it only makes sense to have an expert on hand who is willing to clear up confusion and serve as an advocate when necessary.

Protect Your Assets by Planning for Long-Term Health Care

Planning long term health care in Massachusetts.

If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t given much thought into paying for the care you’ll need as you get older. In fact, a new poll shows that two-thirds of Americans have done little to no planning for their own long-term care needs.

However, it’s vital to do so. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70 percent of people over 65 will need some type of institutional care, and that care won’t come cheap. The average cost of a nursing home tops $50,000 per year, and assisted living facilities cost about $3,000 per month.

For many, the cost of long-term care can deplete your assets and any property you had hoped to leave to family members. Plan now so you can protect your estate.

1. Consider long-term care insurance
Many long-term care insurance plans pay not only for care in a nursing home, but also for care at home or in an assisted living facility. The plans can be expensive for many seniors, but the premiums will be lower the earlier you purchase coverage. There’s a lot of variability among long-term care policies, so be sure to explore all your options and get expert advice before selecting a carrier.

2. Identify a healthcare and durable power of attorney
Have an attorney draw up a durable power of attorney and one for healthcare. These documents identify the person(s) who will make decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated or become unable to manage your affairs.

3. Learn how to protect your assets
The majority of people who need nursing home care rely on Medicaid to foot the bill. However, this option means you’ll have to spend your existing assets on your care first before Medicaid begins paying. An experienced elder care attorney can help you protect your assets by developing an estate plan. If you wait until you’re in a nursing home, it’s probably too late.

Pitfalls to Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning

Take Massachusetts estate planning advice from expert Elder Law Attorney.You probably know the joke about the only two certainties in life: taxes and death. Chances are you are willing to pay an experienced tax professional to help you with filing your taxes to avoid being audited by the IRS, but many people take the oppositeapproach for their estate planning. While going the do-it-yourself route works great for making bookshelves, designer inspired accessories and coffee shop knockoffs, it’s not a great idea when you consider that you’re dealing with a lifetime’s worth of assets that you want to be distributed in the way you see fit.

By hiring a Massachusetts elder law attorney, you can avoid some of the common pitfalls that cause people’s estates to nearly vanish into thin air:

Document Wording and Proofreading- It doesn’t take long for an estate lawyer to draw up a will that uses legally accurate terms, is error-free and will stand up in court. They can point out errors in wording or figures, which would have helped to poor person who left $200.000, instead of $200,000, to her sister!

Witnesses and Signatures- With a DIY will created on the internet, there’s thepossibility that it’s validity is challenged since witnesses may not have been presentwhen it was signed. Also, the court could question whether the signatures are real or not.

Tax Advantages- Intuitive as it is, a piece of computer software can’t understand all the complexities of the financial and tax laws in the United States. A professional estate planning attorney can help you understand the best ways in which you can leave your money to your heirs without them incurring hefty fees and taxes.

Many people avoid hiring a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer because they believe they won’t reap the benefits. But it’s far better to spend the money now and protect your assets so that your heirs get all of your assets, and without unnecessary complication. Contact us today for help with your estate planning needs.

The American Taxpayer Relief Act, How Will It Affect You

The American Taxpayer Relief Act, How Will It Affect You

Contact your Massachusetts Estate Planning Lawyer for more information.

The year 2012 ended with many Americans wondering how their estate plans might change when the “Bush Era Tax Cuts” expired at midnight December 31. Fortunately a quick act of Congress, otherwise known as the The American Taxpayer Relief Act, was put into effect in the pre-dawn hours of January 1, 2013. While not all of the old laws remained in effect, as your Massachusetts elder lawyer will tell you, there was good news for seniors and their estate plans.

The The American Taxpayer Relief Act preserved the $5 million exemption on federal tax, meaning that if you have assets under $5 million, you won’t pay any taxes on that money. For individuals who have an estate of more than $5 million, the tax rate has increased from 35% to 40%. Although the tax rate increased, had the The American Taxpayer Relief Act not been signed, the exemption would stop at $1 million and the tax rate would be 55%. While the exemption is now a permanent law, the tax rate may increase in the future.
Another piece of good news from the The American Taxpayer Relief Act is that it remains portable, meaning that married couples can use the unused portion of their deceased spouse’s exemption. For example, if Tom and Mary have $9 million and Tom passes away, the money can be transfered tax-free to Mary since they are a married couple, and the exemption is not used. When Mary dies, the entire $9 million can be passed on to the couple’s heirs by using the $5 million exemption of both Tom and Mary. Of course this is not done automatically; your Massachusetts estate planning attorney will explain which tax forms need to be filled out upon passing so that the exemptions can be used.
Your Massachusetts elder lawyer can meet with you and help you better understand how the The American Taxpayer Relief Act applies to your individual situation, and advise you on the best way to proceed with your estate plans, so contact the Law Offices of Adam J. Tobin today.