Tag Archives: Living Trust Attorney

How To Prepare Estate Planning After Having a Baby

Estate planning after having children.

After having a baby, your estate planning strategy completely changes because you need to account for some important decisions that will affect your child, both now and as he transitions into adulthood. It is important to add your child to your will right away and make several other decisions related to your child in the coming years.

First, specify in your will how your assets will be divided between your heirs, including the new baby. An estate planning lawyer can walk you through the process to ensure your wishes get carried out.

Second, get a Massachusetts estate planning attorney to add a clause to your will that specifies who will care for your child if you and the child’s other parent are both unable to. Including this in your will may seem silly if you’re healthy, but it never hurts to have it there in case something happens to you.

Third, consider setting up a living trust. This is a way to protect your assets from being tied up when you die, while still allowing you full control while you are living. A living trust attorney can walk you through the specifics of this process.

Fourth, start transferring your assets to your child if you have a large estate. Tax laws allow you to make tax-free gifts of up to $13,000 per year for each child, which adds up significantly over the child’s lifetime.

Of course, there are several other things you will need to consider as well, especially if you have a large estate or if your existing will is a complicated one. Get in touch with your Massachusetts estate planning lawyer before your baby arrives so you can discuss your plans and be ready to put them in place.

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.

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

Estate Planning and Drafting a Will

It’s never an easy topic to address, but if you care about what happens to your assets after death, creating a will is a prudent decision at any age.  Unfortunately, death can be unexpected and untimely; it is never too early to draft a will.

Last Will and TestamentDo I need a Lawyer to draft a will?

Today there are multiple websites and online providers of wills, while potentially cheaper than working with an attorney, using online avenues to create your will poses some serious risks.  Wills generated online or by programs are much lower quality overall.  They may not take differences in probate law among states into account, which could void your will.   If you have assets worth creating a will, you probably have enough money to make paying the little bit extra to work with an attorney worth it.

How much are standard attorney fees to create a will?

Fees vary, but it should not be difficult to find a qualified lawyer who will work with you to draft a will for only a few hundred dollars.  Besides probably having more expertise than a website or program, lawyers wish to keep their bar license and are therefore motivated to ensure that you receive a high-quality thorough document.  Additionally, the personal interaction is always a plus when creating a document that is so important to your personal life.

Lawyers can help fill major gaps in your legal knowledge and correct false assumptions that many people make.  For example, wills do not generally govern a person’s retirement account, which is usually someone’s most valuable asset.  There is a completely different set of rules that governs what happens to those assets.  However, if you work with an attorney to create your estate plan, you will have much more control over factors such as these, factors that you may have overlooked otherwise.

It’s as easy as asking a lawyer!  If you would like information or assistance with estate planning, contact The Law Offices of Adam J. Tobin today!

Choosing a Trustee

Creating a trust can be important for several reasons – a few of which include avoiding probate, protecting assets, and protecting minor children. However, choosing someone as your trustee can be a difficult decision. You must choose someone you trust to make responsible decisions regarding your assets should you become incapacitated and unable to do so yourself. Here are a few of the different types of trustees you may choose to appoint:

Family Trustee

In many cases a family member, such as an adult child, is chosen as one’s trustee. Typically, there is a high level of trust for family members and oftentimes adult children are already responsible for helping out with many financial decisions. Usually a family member will also carry out the duties as a trustee for little or no compensation which can make this a very appealing option.

Co-trusteesLiving Trusts

However, when appointing a family trustee there may be reasons to also designate a “co-trustee.” For instance, if you have any feeling that a single trustee might not consistently make the best decisions possible it might be a good idea to appoint a co-trustee to balance the situation. In this case two signatures must be obtained whenever a decision is made. While this can be a bit burdensome, having a co-trustee can often be a way to ensure that responsible action is taken.

Corporate Trustee

Depending on your situation it may be best to choose an outside party as a trustee. Although this is generally a more expensive option than choosing a family member, appointing a corporate trustee ensures that professional and impartial decisions are made. This option also provides longevity – a corporate trustee is more likely to be around in 25 years, whereas a family member may not.

When creating a living trust there are several options available in deciding who will be your trustee. You must evaluate your individual situation to decide what would make the most sense for you. For help with this process contact Living Trust Attorney Adam J. Tobin today!

Estate Planning for Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a progressive, chronic disease that calls for constant care that is delivered over time and fluctuates day-to-day.  The kind of care needed, known as chronic care, takes the form of daily personal-care assistance, medication distribution, supervision, companionship, helping with chores, etc. Chronic care systems vary from state to state; it includes both community-based and institutional care providers.  There are also state, federal, and private funding sources available.

The need for chronic health care system is ever growing, and the health care professionals can no longer rely on the once abundant Medicare and Medicaid programs to subsidize the chronic care their patients require.  Alzheimer’s is fast becoming the most prevalent and disabling chronic illness in the United States.  As chronic care systems strain to capacity, Alzheimer’s patients and their loved ones should utilize their own resources in the most effective way to ensure the quality of their care.  Here are a few strategies to aid in the planning effort.

Step 1: Advance Directives

– Once an individual with Alzheimer’s disease has lost their memory, ability to reason, and ability to understand consequences, it is too late to designate someone to take care of their decisions.  Choosing a decision-maker in advance of incapacity can be invaluable when trying to maintain the quality of life for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

– There are five advance directives that must be considered as early as possible: a power of attorney, a health care proxy, a will, a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order, and a living will.  The earlier you can get to an estate planning attorney to establish these directives, the better off you and your loved one will be.

Step 2: Estate Inventory

–       An estate inventory is essentially a snapshot of the resources you or your loved one have that can be used to subsidize care giving.  We cannot efficiently plan or manage long-term care without an inventory of the assets at your disposal.

–       There are six long-term care resources: Health Insurance, Income/Assets, Community Resources, Family/Friends, Home Environment, and the Client’s Self-Care Capacity.

Step 3: Care Needs Assessment

–       A care needs assessment for an Alzheimer’s patient examines what the patient requires, how much care can be provided from the family, the configuration of the home, and the patient’s capabilities.

–       These are best performed by family members or close friends.  A care needs assessment will help predict the gradual increase in level of care.

–       Families can also hire independent care managers  or their local elder service agencies to perform the assessment.

Step 4: Defining the Options

–       Once the advance directives are in place, the resources are organized, and the care needs are assessed, the real planning can start.  It is important to consider both short term and long term needs.

–       Safety, resource limitations, and behavior management are all options that must be considered.

Long-term care is a journey, one that must be planned for extensively.  Your plan must be adaptable and based on correct information.  The more knowledge you can gather, the better.  Working to plan for long-term care can be a struggle.  If you are struggling, the help of an estate planning lawyer can make a huge difference.  Don’t hesitate to contact estate planning lawyer Adam Tobin with any questions or to schedule a free consultation.

How Living Situations Affect Estate Plans

Estate Planning based on Living SituationsWhere do you call home? It may be at your home independently, at a facility, or with an adult child. Based on where you live, there are legal issues that must be addressed. These living situation-specific edits are extremely important to consider when creating your estate plan.

1.  If you are living independently at home, the two important legal issues to address are the estate plan itself and a deed transfer.

In regards to your estate, make sure that you first inventory all assets and create a broad life plan. Considering this broad plan, you must decide what sort of estate plan will work for you. Working with an estate planning attorney is the best way to customize your estate plan to fit your needs. Maybe a basic will package (including a will, a living will, and power of attorney) is enough of an estate plan to fit your needs, both financial and physical. On the other hand, you might need a more complex plan that includes several types of trusts. An elder lawyer is a great resource to use when deciding.The second important estate planning step for someone living at home independently is to consider whether a deed transfer with a life estate is something that would fit into your plan. Will you be able to maintain your current lifestyle without access to the equity in your house? If you transfer your house five years before submitting a Medicaid application, you will have preserved an asset. There are risks to a deed transfer, however. Once it is transferred, you cannot get it back without proof of undue influence or fraud. Also, if your adult child (or whomever the house was transferred to) gets divorced or receives a judgment, the house might be subject to some sort of equitable distribution or a lien. These are just a couple of the issues that should be discussed fully with an estate planning attorney.

2.  If you are living with an adult child, the main legal issue to address is the creation of a caregiver agreement. This basically defines the living arrangement between you and your child to avoid any potential conflict in the future. For example, you might want to purchase a life estate in their property or create a landlord/tenant arrangement. You also need to define what portions of funds paid by you will compensate for rent and care. This may seem unimportant if you have a great relationship with your child, but spelling out all the terms of your stay will work to preserve that great relationship. Also, Medicaid recognizes a caregiver agreement when the amount paid is considered reasonable compensation (80% of fair market value.)

3.  When living in a facility, there are several issues to be addressed in an estate plan (and the earlier, the better.) Typically, a parent is placed in a skilled care facility or nursing home due to a recent or sudden accident or sickness and the adult child must figure out how to proceed. It is much more beneficial to work with an elder care attorney beforehand so as to fully outline your preferred plan. The most pressing matter is usually the method of payment. There are four methods of payment available: long term care insurance, Veteran’s benefits, private payment, or Medicaid. Another taxing situation involves preparing for what the social service agency will need in regards to the parent. The real secret, however, is in the “spend down.” Funds must be “spent down” before you can qualify for Medicaid. One of the best ways to do this is to hire a nursing home lawyer, because legal fees are permissible expenses (meaning money can be spent down on payment of legal fees in order to complete a Medicaid application.

So whether you live at home, in a facility, or with an adult child, you must consider situation-specific legal issues. The best way to ensure that you are executing your estate plan in the most efficient way is to work with an elder care attorney. If you have any questions or are ready to begin the estate planning process, contact us now to schedule a free consultation with Massachusetts estate planning attorney Adam J. Tobin.

Strange Wills!

When working with an elder law attorney to create your estate plan, the last will and testament often takes the forefront. Many people see a will as the entire estate plan. While this is not at all true – estate planning involves trusts, nursing home choices, elder care, and so much more – the will is certainly a pivotal part. When working with an estate planning attorney, make sure that you include every provision you can think of! Specificity is key, so make sure not to leave out any requests – no matter how strange they may seem. Even strange requests are important.

Just to prove this point, here is a list of some of the stranger wills around.

Good thing Houdini made his will early.

Good thing Houdini made his will early.

Born in 1874, Harry Houdini was the greatest illusionist of his time (maybe even of all time!) When he passed away in 1926, his will revealed an eccentric side. He left his extensive library of magic-themed books to the American Society for Psychological Research on the stipulation that the research officer must resign. He left the rabbits that were pulled out of hats to the children of his friends. Most bizarrely, he left a “secret code” (really just a series of ten random words) to his wife and explained he would use them to contact her from the afterlife. Regardless of the decade of annual séances his wife held, he never showed up!

Acting on the assumption that he and his family would be reincarnated, Vermont tanner John Bowman created a $500,000 trust fund in 1891 for the maintenance of his mansion. The will required that dinner be served every night in case they returned hungry. The nuance was carried out until 1950, when the trust fund ran out.

Rock and blues singer Janis Joplin was known for her heavy drinking and drug use, and died of an overdose in 1970. The strange part of the will was that she changed it just two days before her death. She decided to set aside a couple thousand dollars to pay for a party after her funeral for 200 guests at her favorite bar in California. Talk about a strange stipulation (and even stranger coincidence!)

If you have questions on the effectiveness of your will, or to start the estate planning process, contact contact us or arrange a free consultation with Massachusetts Nursing Home Attorney Adam Tobin.

Click here to read some more strange wills!

Common Estate Planning Mistakes

When starting to plan your estate, there are a myriad of decisions to be analyzed and made. There are so many, in fact, that it is difficult to create your own estate plan without running into some sort of error or overlooked clause. While the only way to be sure that your estate plan is airtight is to enlist the help and expertise of an estate planning attorney, there are a few common estate planning mistakes that you can look out for.

The first common mistake: Not preparing for incapacity. Most people assume that the most important part of an estate plan is to address how assets will be divided among heirs — and in truth it is one of the most important, but most people also forget to plan for incapacity. A good estate plan should spend an equal amount of time addressing how your estate should be handled and how you are to be cared for if you are no longer able to manage it yourself. The “who gets what” provisions are certainly important, but there are other aspects that need equal attention.

Another common mistake is assuming that their children, either children or adults, don’t need any sort of inheritance protection protocols put in place. Many assume that the best way to avoid bureaucratic or financial entanglements is to just give their heirs the lump sum of their inheritance. This, however, leaves the inheritance wide open to the divorcing spouses, creditors, and the wims of 18 year olds heirs. It is possible to protect your child’s inheritance with very few strings attached. A trust plan can be created that will allow your child to become his own trustee of his share. This will provide almost unlimited access to the money, but it also allows the child to add an independent co-trustee to their share of the estate in case of problems. This will ensure that the money will still be considered part of the original estate – off limits to creditors or divorcing spouses.

“Blended family relationships” often become a tricky obstacle in estate planning. There are tons of scenarios everyday involving dealing with communication and cooperation between surviving spouses from a second (or third, etc.) marriage and children from the first (or second, etc) marriage. No matter how much you love and trust your children and your new spouse, you must remember that the prospect of money often causes even the best people to be self-serving. Enacting a solid trust plan that specifically covers remarriage restrictions and other protections will ensure minimal dispute, and overlooking these protections is our third common mistake.

The final common estate planning mistake is much less tangible than the rest: thinking of your estate planning as an “event” rather than as a “process.” Your estate planning is a process – one that takes a long time and should be gradually established. Within the time spent estate planning, laws will have changed, assets with develop, and your personal relationships with evolve. These must all be reflected in your estate planning choices. A common mistake is not reviewing your estate plan on a regular basis to ensure that no changes need to be made. Make sure not to forget to review and revise regularly!

The estate planning process is a complicated road that is best navigated with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. If you have any questions about your current estate plan, or wish to begin the process of creating one, contact Estate Planning Attorney Adam Tobin.

Nursing Home Myths, Busted!

The decision to move a loved one to a nursing home is often riddled with anxiety and unending questions. Nursing home residents and family members have much more influence in determining the care received than they may think. Unfortunately, some nursing homes know that most residents and their family members are unaware of their rights and employ policies that violate Nursing Home Reform Law. These policies involve resident admission, care, reimbursement, and eviction. Without the knowledge and help of a nursing home attorney, it can be hard to ensure that you or your loved ones are not being taken advantage of.

The best thing you can do is contact a nursing home lawyer and ensure that all policies benefit the resident. An elder law attorney knows the ins and outs of nursing home law, and is your best bet for a smooth admission process. There are many myths that often hinder resident admissions, so we felt it was important to post the realities that are important to know.

MYTH: Medicaid probably won’t cover the services you want.
REALITY: Residents on Medicaid are entitled to the same services offered to other residents.

MYTH: The staff alone determines the care a resident receives.
REALITY: Both residents and their loved ones have the right to participate in care plan development.

MYTH: Individual schedules cannot be accommodated.
REALITY: A resident’s needs, schedule, and preferences must be catered to with reasonable adjustments.

MYTH: If the resident does not progress, therapy must be discontinued.
REALITY: Therapy may be fitting even if the resident does not show progress. Medicare will often cover the costs even without recent progress.

MYTH: There might not be available private space for family members or residents to meet.
REALITY: Nursing homes are required to provide private space for resident or family meetings. 

MYTH: Restraints must be used for the prevention of wandering residents.
REALITY: No type of restraint can be used for discipline or for the staff’s convenience.

MYTH: The nursing home can require you to pay extra charges at any time.
REALITY: Nursing homes can only require an extra charge that was authorized in the admission agreement.

MYTH: For optimal care, you must hire private help.
REALITY: Nursing home staff members must provide any and all necessary care.

MYTH: Family must visit within strict visiting hour periods.
REALITY:
Family members may visit the resident at any time, night or day.

MYTH: If a resident is considered difficult or refuses medical treatment, they can face eviction.
REALITY: Neither refusal of medical treatment nor a difficult personality justifies eviction.

The best way to understand how best to go about finding the nursing home for you or a loved one is to work with a nursing home attorney who can ensure that your best interests are kept as a priority.  A little advanced planning can save a great deal of future anxiety; often the need for a nursing home is abrupt and requires quick action.

Click here to find out more about Massachusetts laws regarding nursing home patients and resident rights. If you are have any inquiries as to the process, contact us or arrange a contact us or arrange a free consultation with Massachusetts Nursing Home Attorney Adam Tobin.

Your Trustee Duties, Explained

If you have been appointed to the position of trustee of a trust, congratulations – clearly you are thought of as someone of great judgment, patience, and honesty. A trust (a legal arrangement in which one person, a trustee, holds the legal title of an entity for another, a beneficiary,) however, is a great responsibility. Here are a few duties of the position:

1. Fiduciary Responsibility – Your actions as trustee must be held to a very high standard.  As a fiduciary (someone who holds assets in trust for a beneficiary) you must pay acute attention to the investments and disbursements of the trust.

2. Knowledge of the Trust – You must follow the directions and rules of the trust emphatically. Make sure to read the trust in detail; it is also beneficial to reference the trust when any questions come to light.

3. Standards of Investment – The investments you execute must be prudent and logical; you cannot use money for risky investments. These investments must also take into account the interests not only of current beneficiaries, but future as well. You must consider the future financial needs of the beneficiary.

4.  Distribution – Often the most important role of a trustee is the ability to set limits of the use of trust assets. When making distributions to a beneficiary, you are responsible for evaluating his or her future needs before making a decision.

5. Taxing – You will be responsible for filing tax returns and paying any taxes. You must keep good records and can turn over this responsibility to an accountant to ensure this goes smoothly.

6. Accounting – You are in charge of monitoring all income to, distributions from, and expenditures by the trust. Usually an account of this information is given to beneficiaries annually. It is important to report on income and principal separately.

7. Delegation – All above functions can be delegated. You are allowed to hire financial advisors, accountants, and lawyers to ease the burden of responsibility. You cannot, however, delegate your responsibility to the trust; you still must communicate with those that you hire as well as make any discretionary decisions.

8. Delegation. While you cannot delegate your responsibility as trustee, you can delegate all of the functions described above. You can hire financial advisors to make investments, accountants to handle taxes and bookkeeping for the trust, and lawyers to advise you on questions of interpretation. With such professional assistance, the job of trustee need not be difficult. However, you still need to communicate with those you hire and make any discretionary decisions, such as when to make distributions of principal from the trust to one or more beneficiaries.

Acting as a trustee is an opportunity to enhance the lives of the trust’s beneficiaries, and also a great responsibility. You don’t have to do it alone! Get professional advice to make sure you are correctly fulfilling your role. Adam Tobin is an experienced living trust attorney and can help you carry out these responsibilities. Contact him today for a free consultation.