Tag Archives: Massachusetts Elder Attorney

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.

The Five Phases of Retirement Planning

Retirement in America has changed radically over the last few decades; years ago you expected to work most of your life for a single, large  employer, then you would count on a pension from that employer. “Retirement planning” was figuring out how to use your new-found free time. Today, however,  it’s more likely that you will be living in retirement on money that you saved yourself while calculating rates of return and deciphering tax rules.

the-five-phases-of-retirement-planning

This self-funded retirement constitutes a shift of responsibility. To help those who are beginning to plan for retirement, or those who just want to learn ahead of time, here are the five phases of retirement planning, including key aspects that should to be carried out during each phase.

Phase 1: Accumulation

This period begins when you enter the workforce and begin to set aside funds for later in life, and ends when you actually retire. If your employer offers 401(k), 403(b), or 457(b) plans, sign up and contribute the maximum amount allowed. The “new normal” requires retirement savings rates for most Americans to exceed 10 per cent. If you’re self-employed, look over your plan to see if you’re shortchanging yourself on Social Security to reap tax reductions, and if you are, consider re-working your plan.

Phase 2: Pre-Retirement

This occurs during the final years of Phase 1: Accumulation and should begin either when you reach 50 years of age or when you are 15 years away from retirement, whichever happens first. Now is the time to get your plan in place; make sure your finances are lined up correctly for the day your retire so nothing is left to chance. If the company you work for has a benefits specialist, schedule an appointment to become informed about the different ways you can convert your employer retirement savings into a stream of income or an IRA (Individual Retirement Account). Consider using “scenario planning” and start learning about Social Security and your options for receiving retirement benefits. Familiarize yourself with the basics of Medicare, including Medicaid.

Phase 3: Early-Retirement

This phase lasts from the day you retire until you turn 70. (For those who do not plan to retire until well into their 70s, some tasks in this phase may occur later.) An important purpose of this phase is to create a clear communication channel with your family: information can be shared, questions can be discussed, and decisions can be made in a calm and supportive way. It’s also the time to evaluate how well your finances are working now that you have started to use your retirement savings. Fine-tune your income and expense projections, remembering to take into consideration how you will meet minimum distribution requirements from  your tax-deferred accounts.

Phase 4: Mid-Retirement

This begins at age 70 and lasts as long as your high-functioning and able-bodied. Despite your good health, begin looking at what steps you would want your family to take if your condition declines significantly. In most cases, your ability to make all your own decisions, care for yourself, engage with the world, and manage your affairs does not disappear in a split second. It takes courage to dive into a  conversation about giving up and transferring control.

Phase 5: Late-Retirement

This phase begins when your health has taken a turn for the worse and it is not likely for it being fully restored and you require significant help to function from day to day. The hope for this phase, is that by this point all the planning you have done in prior years will make this transition as manageable and life-affirming as possible.

For assistance in retirement planning, it would be helpful to hire a qualified elder law attorney. Contact Adam Tobin to meet with a knowledgeable Massachusetts elder attorney, and receive advice and tips to make your retirement planning a smooth process.

Finding a Probate Lawyer

The unfortunate need for a probate lawyer is typically due to death of a relative or loved one. Although this is a difficult time, your efforts should go into finding a good attorney.

So what type of probate lawyer do you need? There are two overarching types that you should be aware of: those that handle administrative duties, and those who will represent clients in court. There is the instance where a lawyer can practice both – but as a general rule, they will sway in one direction. If you are in a suit over an estate, you should look for a litigator: if not, a transaction attorney may be your best bet. An elder lawyer with expertise in trusts or estate planning will be skilled in these situations.
You’ve determined that you need an elder attorney, and even understand which one you should get. Now, how do you find them?

Do some research – start by asking friends and family. This is a trusted source for referrals, as they will have first-hand experience on a suitable lawyer. Then, do some internet searches:  make sure that you read comments and reviews to gain some insight on the elder lawyer.

Once you’ve come up with a list, follow these steps to come up with some appropriate finalists:

1. Check the practice website for biographical information, including specialties, and probateeducation.
2. Contact the state bar to determine whether or not they are in good standing.
3. Check the membership directory of local, state, and national associations. Do you see a listing for your candidate?
4. Look for individuals with practices located in the same area.
5. Ask for references.

When you are about to make a selection, make sure to factor in your instinct to your decision. It’s important to feel a connection with your lawyer, as chances are you will be embarking on an emotional journey – and they will be at your side. Make sure to contact elder lawyer Adam Tobin today to see what he can do for you.

Read more here.

April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day!

National Healthcare Decisions Day, acknowledged on April 16th,  is an initiative to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever they may be. Highlighted below are some facts that elder lawyers like Adam Tobin can assist you in addressing with your loved ones.adam
The Federal Patient Self-Determination Act requires that all Medicare-participating healthcare facilities inquire about and provide information to patients on Advance Directives; it also requires these facilities to provide community education on Advance Directives.  See 42 C.F.R. § 489.102.

All healthcare facilities are required to:

* Provide information about health care decision-making rights.
* Ask all patients if they have an advance directive.
* Educate their staff and community about advance directives.
* Not discriminate against patients based on an advance directive status.

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, in a 2003 article, “Advance Care Planning: Preferences for Care at the End of Life,” found the following:

  • Less than 50 percent of the severely or terminally ill patients studied had an advance directive in their medical record.
  • Only 12 percent of patients with an advance directive had received input from their physician in its development.
  • Between 65 and 76 percent of physicians whose patients had an advance directive were not aware that it existed.

One of the most striking changes between 1990 and 2005 is the growth in the number of people who say they have a living will – up 17 points, from 12% in 1990 to 29% now. Having a living will was associated with lower probability of dying in a hospital for nursing home residents and people living in the community.

(Explore more into this concept and the movement here.)