Category Archives: MA elder law attorney

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.

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.

Deciding When to Make a Living Will

Contact a massachusetts elder law attorney today for advice on living wills.If you are caring for aging parents or grandparents, you may be wondering if it is time to discuss writing a living will with your loved ones. The subject is often emotional and can be difficult to bring up in casual conversation. The best time to discuss the future is when everyone is healthy, perhaps as retirement approaches or shortly thereafter.

A living will gives people the opportunity to record their desires about medical care if they become incapacitated due to illness or injury. The document becomes their voice and ensures personal wishes are known when they can no longer speak for themselves. It is important to record these wishes before mental acuity starts failing.

The first step is to write down instructions for family and medical providers. Then consult a professional attorney with elder law experience. A legal expert can help you put the information in a legally binding document that the courts will recognize as valid.

In order to protect your rights, consulting with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney is advisable. Massachusetts is one of only three states that do not have specific living will legislation. However, the court may still consider the contents if a lawsuit is filed regarding medical treatment.

Today is a good day to start the conversation. Contact the law offices of Adam Tobin, Elder Law Attorney, for more information about living wills and elder law matters.

Estate Planning After Divorce

Getting a divorce is the last thing on most people’s minds when doing an estate plan, but even couples with the best intentions sometimes end up in divorce court. Having your original estate planning documents revisited is an important step after the divorce process.

One of the first estate plan priorities after divorce is the removal references to your spouse as your power of attorney, trustee or executor. This happens automatically to many documents under some state laws, but it’s important to make the changes as soon as possible.

Another big area of concern with any estate plan after divorce would be any minor children and their named guardians and conservators. New people need to be chosen to fulfill these obligations in the event of yours or your ex-spouse’s death. This is especially important if there are any minor children in the family who have special needs. During this process, reconsider how money is distributed to minor children in the event of your death. Your estate plan should be set up so that someone who is your ex-spouse will not have control of your minor children’s inheritance.

Changing beneficiary designations on life insurance plans, although normally handled through the divorce, is also a key point. The most important are qualified retirement plans like 401Ks. Make sure documents that were anticipated by the divorce judgment, like the transfer of a house to the spouse, are carried out. Don’t forget to record new deeds for all properties that were previously joint-ownership.

People often assume when they get a divorce judgment everything has been done. Some of the actions taken after divorce are just as important for future security as the divorce itself.

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.

Picking the Right Trustee

estate-planning-trusteeYou 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 is 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. The trustee is going to 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.

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 remaining in the family. 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.

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.

Massachusetts Elder Law Planning for Long-term Care

longtermcare-elder-lawElder law attorneys in Massachusetts can help you solve issues regarding long-term care arrangements. If you are not proactive and speak to a Massachusetts elder lawyer early on, long-term care costs can deplete the estate of you or your loved ones. Although insurance may help assuage some of the financial burden, an estate planning attorney can present different options to you.

Long –Term Care Insurance Policies

As part of your estate planning, you may decide to take out an insurance policy in the case you or a loved one requires extensive medical care in a long-term facility. Policies available cover nursing home care and assisted living costs. Your elder lawyer can include policy terms in your living will along with give you advice on how to select the best policy. Since you may not need long-term insurance for years, choose an established insurance provider with a long track record of honoring claims. A Massachusetts elder attorney is likely to point out the importance of an inflation rider that allows the benefit amount to increase each year. If you need long-term care in 10 or 20 years, you want to make sure the coverage you have is sufficient.

Getting Your Wishes Granted

An elder attorney ensures that you or your loved one gets the care you want and deserve. In your living will, you could instruct your loved ones on the type of facility you want to be placed. A list of facilities and nursing care providers can also be listed in a long-term care plan. Your attorney also helps you find the funds from your estate to pay for long-term care if required. All monies are reviewed during your consultation to make the smartest financial decisions. Monies used for long-term care can come from medical insurance, reverse mortgages, long-term care insurance, veteran’s benefits, income and savings.

Documents You Need

Telling your children or grandchildren your wishes for long-term care is not enough. A MA elder care lawyer assures all documentation is filed and legally-binding. Your attorney can draw up your last will and testament, living will and power of attorney documents. In your documents, you could also designate a personal care coordinator. This person is in charge of making the decisions when you are medically incapacitated due to old age or disease.

Speak to a MA elder lawyer early on to avoid financial disaster. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if used for long-term care. Avoid losing your entire estate by planning for this possibility with an elder law attorney.

National Estate Planning Awareness Week (October 17 — 23)

living_trust_and_estate_planningThe National Association of Estate Planners and Councils estimates that more than 120,000,000 Americans do not have the adequate estate planning needed to protect their families and loved ones in the event of a health emergency or unexpected death. If you suspect that you or an aging family member may be one of those 120,000,000 people, participate in National Estate Planning Awareness Week and speak with a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer for more information about your own estate planning, or how you might assist an older relative with theirs.

Improper estate planning can be financially and emotionally devastating to those who must deal with its consequences. That’s one reason why the NAEPC worked with Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and other members of the U.S. House of Representatives to establish October 17–23 as National Estate Planning Awareness Week.

Founded in 1962, the NAEPC is a non-profit business league with a strong commitment to promote financial and estate planning throughout the year, especially during National Estate Planning Awareness Week, when the organization sponsors seminars and webinars and provides educational materials to members of the estate planning profession, such as a Massachusetts living trust or estate attorneys, and to concerned individuals who want to learn more.

A Massachusetts elder law attorney can assist you with issues regarding financial wellness, such as budgeting, insurance, tax planning and investing, or work with you to develop a plan for charitable giving, organizing important documents or protecting the financial interests of your non-traditional family. By promoting National Estate Planning Awareness Week, the experts at NAECP are confident that more people will discover that estate planning is not just about what happens after you die, it’s about improving the quality of your life.

To take full advantage of National Estate Planning Awareness week, be proactive in creating or updating the estate and financial plans that will most benefit you and your family.

• Organize your important documents and make a list of assets and liabilities.
• Make a list of your financial advisers.
• Identify your goals, including retirement plans, goals for charitable giving, goals for your children or other beneficiaries and for your long-term healthcare.
• List the questions you would like to discuss with an estate planning professional.
• Interview a Massachusetts elder lawyer, ask how many years of experience they have in estate planning, what and how fees are charges and if they offer an introductory meeting free-of-charge.
• Bring your documents and lists to the initial meeting.
• Discuss your goals with the attorney and see if you believe he is the right person to assist you.

It will take more than one week to develop or update your plans, but with proper preparation you can make the most of your initial meeting and save many hours of billable time. But what’s more important, by using National Estate Planning Awareness Week to kick-start your estate planning, you will be providing emotional and financial security for your loved ones and peace of mind for yourself.