Category Archives: Nursing Home Attorney

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!

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.

Have You Heard? New Protections Under the Elder Justice Act

Did you know that new legislation was signed into law last year that is designed to protect America’s senior citizens from abuse?  The Elder Justice Act, signed by President Obama in March of 2010, is a major step towards preventing abuse of the elderly.  This is the first time that such efforts have been officially coordinated at the federal level.

A Brief Overview of the Elder Justice Act

  • Elder Justice ActWithin the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, there will now be Elder Justice Coordinating Council (EJCC) which will oversee coordination of elder abuse issues throughout the government.
  • An Advisory Board to the EJCC, comprised of experts on elderly abuse and exploitation, will be formed to advice the council and compile a yearly report on elderly abuse with recommendations for governments at the federal, state, and local levels.
  • Allows for grants to long term care facilities to ensure that they have sufficient training and knowledge on elderly abuse issues and how to combat and prevent abuse of senior citizens.
  • Increased coordination among long term care facilities, the government, and elderly abuse officials at all levels.

In short, the act will help unify a system of preventing elderly abuse nationwide. This is a huge step in the fight to prevent the abuse and exploitation of America’s senior citizens.

If you or someone you know would like information on elder abuse, nursing home abuse, or estate planning, please contact the Law Offices of Adam J. Tobin today.

Why choosing an elder law specialist is best for you and your parents

Elder law attorneys can provide the best solutions to financial and legal plans for your loved ones.

Elder law attorneys can provide the best financial and estate planning solutions for your loved ones.

If you are responsible for elderly parents or relatives, you already know you have many issues to consider. Hiring an elder law attorney – a person that specializes in the laws concerning seniors – is a smart move. If your relative has considerable assets or complicated financial issues, you need the services of an elder attorney; a person that knows about estate planning, living trusts, nursing home issues, and probate. All of these issues can be handled by an elder law specialist.

An estate planning attorney or estate planning lawyer helps seniors plan their wills. Often this means selecting a power of attorney who acts in your place for financial purposes. An attorney can help you with problems that arise from appointing a power of attorney with financial institutions. A planned will details who will acquire what property and money when you die. The will can include bank accounts, IRAs, property, jewelery and expensive collections. A complicated binding document like this demands the expertise of an estate planning attorney.

A living trust attorney can help seniors with different types of trusts used to manage their assets. For example, there are revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, and supplemental needs trusts. Each one has a different purpose and reason for being formed. A MA elder attorney will know all the ins and outs to select the best trust for you or your relative.

A Massachusetts elder lawyer is qualified to help you with any number of important issues. Some of these include disability planning, long term health care decisions, nursing home issues, Medicaid, Medicare, and even at-home care. A Massachusetts estate planning attorney is always ready to help the elderly find the best way to plan their estates. Estate planning is a complex legal issue that only a good Massachusetts estate planning lawyer can handle.

Do you have an elderly relative that has to go into a nursing home? A massachusetts nursing home attorney is qualified to help you assess your financial situation and interpret the many laws that apply. It is a complicated and confusing issue to tackle alone. A good attorney can help your family keep some of their money while still giving your relative good quality care. A lawyer can help you with Medicare, insurance plans, and Medicaid – all ways of paying for long term health care.

An experienced nursing home attorney can help you decide where your elderly relatives will live. An assisted living community may be a better option than a nursing home, or perhaps your elderly relatives just need some help to live in their own home. A qualified Massachusetts nursing home attorney can help you find the best long term care solution for your family members or friends.

Do you want to tackle the probate issue that come up when an someone dies? A probate attorney can help you plan for this process. You can make a will ahead of time, so it is available when probate occurs. Often in probate a will is examined and property is appraised. Some property can avoid probate – this is why a good probate attorney should advise you of the issues at hand.

When seeking sound financial planning for an elderly relative or friend in Massachusetts, contact an elder law attorney to help you with the complex laws and issues that can make this process difficult. You’ll be happy you did, and your relatives will be glad you took the time to find them the best solutions for their financial and legal plans.

Choosing a Nursing Home

Whether for yourself or a loved one, choosing a nursing home is an important and often difficult decision. Thoroughly discuss the issue of nursing home living with the individual involved and their personal physician.  It is critical to consider the travel abilities of those who will be visting the nursing home.  The first narrowing of your search can be base on these limits.

Nursing Home Tour

1. Research and Prepare for Nursing Home Visits

  • Schedule  appointments for informational meetings and tours of nursing homes through the homes’ admissions representatives. It is important to acquire copies of the facility’s brochure, admissions policies, and the resident’s bill of rights.
  • Receive additional information by contacting the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and asking to speak with the ombudsman who represents the nursing homes that you are interested in.
  • Contact the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Division of Health Care Quality to get the “Survey Performance Tool for Nursing Homes” or a copy of survey findings and complaint reports for the nursing homes that you are considering.

2. Your Nursing Home Visits

  • Meet with the admissions representative, administrator, or other contact.
  • During your tour of the nursing home, observe and take mental notes about the interactions between staff and residents.
  • Try and speak with the residents and staff about their feelings and experiences.
  • Make observations, and do not be afraid to ask questions.

3. Narrow Your Choices and Make a Selection

  • After eliminating some of your choices, try to re-visit remaining nursing homes at a different time than you visited before.
  • Schedule a meeting with an administrator to discuss specific concerns regarding care needs or personal preferences.
  • Request that you participate in specific care planning sessions and decisions.
  • After selecting, make sure to visit often and take an active role in your loved one’s care.

If you or a loved one would like legal advice regarding estate planning, trusts, or nursing home abuse, please contact The Law Offices of Adam J. Tobin

Housing Options for Senior Citizens

Is staying at home still the best option for your elderly parents? Certain circumstances may have made you realize that this is no longer the case. Perhaps they have grown incapable of taking care of themselves in addition to their home. This could be the result of changing physical, mental, or financial conditions. Now you’re faced with the decision of how to go about providing the best opportunity for your parents to lead a comfortable lifestMassachusetts Retirement Communityyle. Before you try to swoop in and save the day, make sure to include you parents in the decision-making process. Ultimately, it’s their life and you need to be sure to recognize and respect their personal wants and needs. Now that you’ve got the conversation started it’s time to evaluate the various alternatives:

Retirement Community. Otherwise known as an Independent Living Community or Congregate Living, this may be the best option if your parents are still fairly independent – meaning that they don’t need help with daily activities, such as getting dressed, bathing, feeding themselves, etc. – but desire the security and convenience of a community. Some of these communities offer organized social and recreational activities, while others offer amenities such as housekeeping and transportation. Other amenities may include swimming pools, exercise facilities, clubhouse, laundry facilities, and access to meals. However, be aware these types of communities do not offer medical care to residents and there is also usually an age requirement (typically 55).

Assisted Living Community. These living communities aim to provide as much independence to the residents as possible in a private setting. These communities are designed for senior citizens who cannot safely live completely independently, but do not require the high level of care of nursing homes. Although 24-hour support services and licensed nurses are often provided, assisted living communities are not considered medical facilities and do not accept Medicare or Medicaid as payment. Also, amenities such as housekeeping, social activities, transportation, aMassachusetts Home Carend meals are also usually offered.

Nursing Home. Nursing homes cater to elderly citizens who can no longer care for themselves and require 24-hour professional care. Long-term residents generally require a high level of care and may have complex medical conditions. Nursing home residents receive in-house medical care, rehabilitation, physical and other types of therapies. Some facilities concentrate treating those with Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, dementia or other special health situations.

Home Care. Home care is designed to allow senior citizens to maintain a feeling of independence while still receiving the care that they require. Many home care nurses will come in on an agreed upon schedule, while others may live in the home in order to provide the highest level of care possible. This type of care typically includes help with daily activities, paying bills, making appointments, providing transportation, and providing companionship and emotional support to the individual.

After gathering all of the information about the best options in your area, your parents’ living preferences, and your financial position, you can make a decision. To help understand your parents’ rights and obligations throughout this process, consult an elder law attorney. Contact the law offices of Adam J. Tobin today for more information!

How to Locate a Lost Will

massachusetts-elder-law-attorneyMisplaced wills can be a source of stress and confusion after a loved one has passed away and can cause frustrating legal issues for their heirs. A missing Will could indicate that the deceased had the original revoked or replaced, which can open up an even messier can of worms. Even if you are able to obtain a photocopy or an original will, it may be considered invalid if there are other natural heirs to the estate. Each state has differing rules on photocopies. If you are only able to locate a photocopy, seek out the advice of a lawyer.

–Check for obvious hiding places: under a mattress, between the pages of a book, desks, filing cabinets, stored boxes, cars, and wall or floor safes. Safes are often located in closets or garages and are usually found in places that are not obvious to the casual viewer.

–Search the house for a safe deposit box key. Keys are over-sized and are often aluminum or silver in color; they will also often have “Do not duplicate” written on the face of the key.

–Locate the bank or savings papers of the deceased and call the institution to see if there is a safe deposit box that is rented in the name of the deceased. You may need to obtain a court order to gain access to the box if you’re not listed on the signature card.

–Check the belongings of the deceased to see if there are any cards, canceled checks, or correspondence from a lawyer. Call the law firm to see if they drew up papers or referred the deceased to another firm that handles wills.

–Contact friends and business partners of the deceased to see if any of them were there to witness the will signing or if they were involved in discussions about it with the deceased. Address books and email accounts of the departed may have the names of those who they were in contact with regularly.

–Find out if the state you are in required the will to be filed at the courthouse as a public record. If so, call the courthouse and ask for the Probate department to see if you can gain access to a copy of the will.

If you need assistance from a qualified Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney concerning anything from Wills to Nursing Homes, please contact Adam Tobin.

How to Cut Elder-Care Costs

Consult an elder law attorney for assistance on cutting elder-care costs

Consult an elder law attorney for assistance on cutting elder-care costs.

There is a generation that is sometimes referred to as “the sandwich generation;” these are the people who have to care not only for their children, but for their elderly parents as well. It is a hard and multi-dimensional job, with declining retirement savings and health care costs skyrocketing to worry about for their parents, and college tuition and all the additional costs that come with raising a child.

To help you better manage the costs of caring for an elderly loved one, follow these helpful tips:

Negotiate.

It never hurts to ask. Try negotiating with a facility on pricing, especially if they are not filled to capacity. Donna Schempp, program director for the nonprofit, Family Caregiver Alliance, says it’s “worth the conversation, particularly if your parent is already there and they’d have to move out.”

Offer to Share a Room.

Some assisted-living facilities set aside a certain number of rooms to share for lower-income seniors who cannot afford the full fee. Mary Winners, owner of About Senior Solutions, knows of some facilities that could charge as low as $1,300 to $1,700 per person for a shared room, as opposed to those who spend $2,500 to $3,500 on a private room.

Hire a Geriatric-Care Manager.

A geriatric-care manager can do everything from assessing your parent’s long-term care needs and finding them a place to live, to helping you navigate the complicated health-care system. They can also save you lots of time and money in the long run, making their fees, which range from $80 to $200 an hour, seem a lot more satisfying.

A situation where a geriatric-care manager would be helpful would be if you did not live close to your aging parent and they needed regular assistance. A manager may be better able to find a high-quality assisted living facility near her home that’s financially supported by the community. They know what is out there and will be better equipped to negotiate on your behalf.

Managers can also serve as a mediator if family members are in conflict over an elderly relative, which on its own; can save you plenty of time and headaches.

Adult Day Care

If you work during the day, and your elderly parent cannot be left at home alone, enrolling them in an adult day care program is a lot more affordable than private, in-home care. Fees for adult day services vary, but the national average rate is $64 a day, compared to the hourly rate of $20 (or $160 for an eight-hour day) for home health aides, according to a 2008 MetLife study.

Hire a Part-Time Caretaker

For seniors who do not require close or full-time supervision, hire someone to regularly check in and spend some time with your parent. It could be anyone from a neighbor to a friend or family member. If your mom or dad lives near a university, hire a student to do things such as grocery shopping, cleaning, and meal preparation, as well as provide companionship. It will only cost you about $15 an hour for such services.

Caring for an elderly parent can be emotionally, physically, and financially draining at times. By following these helpful tips, hopefully at least the financial burden will seem a little less intimidating. If you have any other questions regarding elder care or elder law, consult a qualified elder law attorney, like Adam Tobin, to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have.

Long Term Care Facilities Overview

When trying to decide what level of assisted living or nursing home care is appropriate for yourself or a loved one, it can often to be difficult to understand the options available for you.

While many times it can be a simple decision (e.g. just an over 50 living facility with maximum independence is often the first step,) often is difficult to judge the level of care needed.  Many people make the decision to meet with a nursing home attorney or elder lawyer to help make the decision.

Here is an overview of the structured facilities for long-term care:

nursing home assistance

ECF (Extended Care Facility): Includes assisted living and both levels of nursing home care.

SNF (Skilled Nursing Facility): As these are only for short term stays that are covered by Medicare and other GMOs, they aren’t a long-term option. Once the allotted number of days under the resident’s insurance plan are used for the year, you will be given the option to pay privately or you must be approved to receive Medicaid long-term to continue to receive care.  You must also have a specific need for short-term occupational and/or physical therapy to stay at a SNF.

ICF (Intermediate Care Facility): This type of facility is for long-term residential care for residents that need 24-hour supervision and care but not at a skilled level.  These types of facilities can be paid for out-of-pocket or through Medicaid.

AL (Assisted Living): This type of facility is not covered by insurance; they are paid for out-of-pocket.  Assisted Living facilities offer minimal care and are not meant for seriously ill patients.  Medicaid will cover the expense if you can qualify for an Assisted Living Waiver – to start that process, get in touch with elder law attorney Adam J. Tobin.

IL (Independent Living): Independent Living facilities are essentially senior communities with meals and activities provided.  It is the lowest level of care offered and is not meant for those with illness or serious mental ailments. These facilities are also paid for out-of-pocket.

If you are trying to figure out the level of care you or a loved one needs, or if you have any questions about the process of selecting a facility, please contact us and arrange a free consultation with Massachusetts estate planning attorney Adam Tobin.

How to Choose a Nursing Home

Choosing a Nursing Home

Choosing a Nursing Home

A move to a nursing home or assisted living is much more precarious of a move than simply switching apartments.  Not only must one consider location, price, and value; but also reputation, level of care, and legal ramifications.

It is highly recommended that a patient’s physician be brought in on the decision in order to establish and ensure that their needs will be adequately met.  To complicate matters further, sometimes the search must be undertaken during the stress of a hospital or rehabilitation center threatening discharge.

In order to make the transition a little easier, we have compiled some general guidelines for finding the perfect nursing home or assisted living program.

1.       Location: Establish the most reasonable distance the nursing home can comfortably be for your loved one.  One of the most important aspects involved in quality of life at a nursing home is the prospects of visits from family.  Care is also often better for patients who have family members involved in their lives.  Due to this, make it easy on your loved ones (or yourself) by picking a nursing home less than an hour away from family.

2.       Take a Tour: Contact the facility’s admissions office and request an informal meeting and tour of each facility.  Make sure to look beyond flashy lobbies and look instead for examples of interactions between staff and residents.  Ask for a brochure of the facility (make sure it includes admissions policies and the resident’s bill of rights) and ask for any addendums.  Asking for an informal meeting and tour will give you a rare opportunity to experience an unrehearsed setting.

3.       Meet the Caretakers: Speak with the nursing home administrator or members of the staff about care plans for patients.  It is important to speak with the people responsible for direct care, not just the hired marketing representative showing you around.

4.       Try the Food: Try and get a feel for the food service quality.  Eating is something that can make or break a nursing home experience.

5.       Ask for References: Try and get the names of both residents and family members if possible so you can ask about both sides of the nursing home experience.

6.       Do Your Research: Contact the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and ask to speak with the ombudsman that covers the facilities you are interested in.  Also contact the state Department of Public Health (in MA, ask for the Division of Health Care Quality at http://www.mass.gov/dph/dhcq or call (617) 753-8000 and ask for the “Survey Performance Tool for Nursing Homes.”   Sometimes it is also possible to receive a copy of survey findings and complaint reports for the nursing homes you are looking into.

7.       Check Certifying Agency Reports: CareScout is an unbiased source for ratings and reviews of eldercare providers nationwide.  Another source for nursing home reports is HealthGrades.  For a fee, HealthGrades will provide you with a report that rates the nursing home and provides information on inspections and complaint investigations.  Also be sure to ask for a report that compares the nursing homes in your area if available.

To find out more about Massachusetts laws regarding nursing home patients and resident rights, contact a knowledgeable MA nursing home attorney like Adam Tobin to answer your questions.