Tag Archives: Probate Lawyer

Elder Law Terminology 101

elder-law-terminologyThere are many terms used in Elder Law that may be confusing to those who are planning for their future, or those who are dealing with the wishes of a loved one. The following are some commonly used terms in estate planning and Elder Law.

Advance Directive

An advance directive is a document that allows a person to fully state their wishes for their medical treatment in the event that they become incapacitated and unable to communicate these wishes at a later date.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document in which a person gives permission for another to act on their behalf. There are several types of powers of attorney. A general power of attorney allows the person to do anything the grantor could do. A special power of attorney gives the person the ability to do certain things, such as pay bills, make medical decisions or sell property.

Probate

Probate refers to the process of validating a will and disposing of assets as prescribed in the will. Most locations have special probate courts that are dedicated to this process.

Executor

The executor of an estate is a person that is granted power over all assets in the estate. The executor must act as the deceased person directed in the terms of their will.

Trust

A trust allows for assets to be distributed to beneficiaries at a specific time or for a specific purpose. This allows a person to have more control over the distribution of their assets to their beneficiaries. There are many types of trusts; each trust has its own benefits and drawbacks.

For more information on these terms, or for answers to your questions about Elder Law and Estate Planning, contact our offices today. We are your Massachusetts Estate Planning Lawyer,Massachusetts Nursing Home Attorney and Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney. We can answer all of your questions and help you plan for the future, so you don’t have to worry about the division of your assets or those of a loved one.

Ten Warning Signs that Indicate Alzheimer’s

Ten Warning Signs that Indicate Alzheimer'sAlzheimer’s Disease is an incurable form of dementia, impacting memory, thinking and behavior, that gradually worsens over time. Common in older populations, it’s estimated that over 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s Disease today.

How do you know if a loved one might be displaying early signs of Alzheimer’s? Here’s a look at 10 warning signs to watch out for:

  1. Forgetfulness: Easily forgetting recently learned information, having to rely on reminders or sticky notes and asking the same questions over and over is a common early sign.
  2. Difficulties in solving elementary problems or planning.
  3. Trouble completing familiar tasks, like driving to work, managing a budget or remembering the rules of a popular game.
  4. Confusion, especially if it involves forgetting how they arrived somewhere.
  5. Visual image challenges: Trouble reading and a difficulty judging distance are common early signs.
  6. Difficulty with verbal/written communication.
  7. Misplacement of items and not being able to retrace their steps to locate said item.
  8. Poor judgment: Common signs include carelessness with money and a lack of proper bathing and grooming.
  9. Removal from activities: One thing to keep a lookout for is whether or not someone is removing themselves from everyday activities, like work, social activities or any hobbies they were active in.
  10. Last but not least, another warning sign is changes in mood and personality. Confusion, depression, anxiousness and fear fullness are all common signs associated with the disease.

If you suspect a loved one may be showing early signs of Alzheimer’s, it’s important to get them to a doctor. You may also want to contact a Massachusetts elder law attorney to attain Massachusetts power of attorney if you feel your loved one is no longer healthy enough for make decisions for themselves. For more information, contact your Massachusetts elder lawyer today.

Housing Options for Senior Citizens

Looking for the right nursing home.Seniors and their adult children are often perplexed about housing options. This is normal, as most adults–even seniors–spend little time building experience or spend much time considering housing options outside of the usual (homeownership, apartments or condos).

Senior Citizen Housing Option Considerations

  • Physical or medical issues. Depending on seniors’ fitness, lack of chronic disease or injury, they should consider staying in their home, finding an apartment that’s easier to maintain or evaluate assisted living residences.
  • Maintaining a home. As every homeowner, young or “mature” knows, even brand new homes need maintenance. Whether it’s a manicured lawn, flowers and plantings, removing snow in winter, and housework for all living areas, it must be done regularly. Seniors’ ability to perform maintenance influences their housing options.
  • Social/emotional issues. As seniors’ friends move or pass away, their social networks often suffer. Housing options should include consideration of social networking opportunities and emotional support.
  • Financial position. Seniors wanting to stay in their homes may need modifications, such as ramps or special bathrooms, that can be costly. These changes may or may not be less costly than finding apartments customized for seniors.

Seniors and their adult children should consult a Massachusetts elder law attorney for money-saving advice on the best housing options for older people. Residents also should consider a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer, who may be the same person, to ensure the seniors’ assets are properly protected.

As seniors become elderly, a Massachusetts nursing home attorney can be of great help finding and financing this option when seniors need it. Nursing home quality, regulations and costs can be complex issues.

Proper planning is the key requirement in evaluating the best housing options for seniors. Planning ahead and soliciting valuable advice before housing decisions are necessary will give you the knowledge to make the right choice.

A Guide to Power of Attorney for your Parents from Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

If one or both of your parents become incapacitated or may become so in the future, to the point that they aren’t able to make crucial financial decisions, whether it be preparing and signing their tax returns, paying their bills, or making sound decisions on investments or savings, it would be a good idea for them to draw up power of attorney agreements granting authority to a third party such as one of their children, or another family member, to make financial decisions or transactions in their behalf.

The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch states that a power of attorney can cover all financial matters, or it can be specific, providing authority to handle for example, only investment accounts, or only covering their day to day financial matters such as paying bills, or using money from their bank account with a specific limit. A Massachusetts elder law attorney drafts durable power of attorney agreements specific to the state of Massachusetts, and in a way that dignifies both parents and children.

Corporate and Government financial Information advisors Financial Finesse outlines several scenarios in which parents might want to give power of attorney to their children.

1. If a parent is mentally competent presently but needs help with day to day financial activities, or in dealing with specific banks or other financial institutions. This limited, narrow power of attorney provides needed help and perhaps an added measure of peace of mind to the mentally competent parent.

2. If a parent is single or if the parent’s spouse is not mentally competent to exercise power of attorney, then it would be wise to have another person who has power of attorney on record in the event of an unexpected situation where the parent is not able to handle their financial matters.

3. A specific durable power of attorney can be prepared covering a specific period of time during which a parent might be temporarily unable to care for their financial matters or specific financial matters.

The Wall Street Journal notes that most law firms can assist clients with the necessary paperwork and that it is necessary to have forms notarized. After notarizing the documents, it would be wise to give copies to all parties including financial advisers or institutions and your attorney, and/or your parents attorney.

While some simple forms may be generic, each state generally has their own power of attorney forms. In Massachusetts one such form is the M-2848 from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. A competent and compassionate Massachusetts estate planning lawyer will provide needed assistance covering all aspects of a power of attorney between children and parents in a manner that is equitable, legal, and that ensures the greatest security.

What can a Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney Do for You?

A Massachusetts estate planning attorney that is knowledgeable in elder law can assist in all legal and financial issues pertaining to your parents’ needs.

The Sandwich Generation

Millions of Americans are facing an unprecedented situation in having to deal with the needs of their parents, their children and their own retirement all at the same time. The increased life expectancy of the current senior population has created what many demographers and planners refer to as the “sandwich generation.”

A number of new laws and regulations have come into effect over the past few decades in recognition of these new demographics. Many of these laws pertain to the care of those over 65 years of age and create the special area of legal practice called elder law.

Working with a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer who is knowledgeable in elder law is an important resource to adequately deal with your parent’s financial, legal and medical needs. There are significant issues that require attention to ensure that the most effective and efficient approaches to dealing with each of these key areas are utilized. The failure to exercise the proper diligence can cost tens of thousands of dollars and create serious legal consequences.

Maintaining a Difficult Balancing Act

Those children that find themselves caring for elderly parents often face a number of difficult decisions in a variety of areas. These individuals are called on to balance their love and concern with practical issues that have serious consequences. Just a few examples of these include;

  • If a parent can no longer drive safely, who takes the initiative in taking away the car keys? What are the legal liabilities if the parent is your responsibility and you fail to do so?
  • What financial decisions are best if it comes to the time to place a parent in a long-term care facility? What advance planning is essential?
  • When and how should legal guardianship of the parent(s) be sought?

A qualified and experienced Massachusetts estate planning attorney fully understands the impact of elder law on these areas of concern. They will be able to provide important information and guidance on these and many other issues, and with those insights, you will be well-prepared to face these challenges.

Preventing Complications with a Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney

When a loved one passes away without a will or when an elderly family member is planning to write up a will, it is important to understand the probate laws in the state. Working with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney can help simplify the process, but having some basic knowledge before talking to a lawyer will make the process of creating a will easier.

Following the Will

Working with a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer to create a will is the best way to prevent complications for loved ones. A lawyer can explain the laws regarding inheritance so that it is easier to determine who will receive different items.

In the state of Massachusetts, the legal system follows the will. Unless the will is contested, items are passed along according to the desires of the individual who created the will.

When a Will is Not Created

When a will was not established before a loved one passed away, hiring a probate lawyer may become a necessity. The probate lawyer can help determine if a case is possible and explain the inheritance laws in the state.

In Massachusetts, property that is owned jointly will automatically transfer full ownership to the other party. Tenancy by the Entirety also applies to married couples in Massachusetts, so a spouse will usually inherit a house or similar property, even if it was not a joint asset.

Any funds that were set aside in a Payable Upon Death account will go to the stated beneficiary. The state does not take Payable Upon Death accounts to probate.

If certain assets are not held jointly or there is a debate about who will receive the assets, then the case may go to court. The case will ultimately decide the division of assets based on the relationship with the deceased party.

It is best to work with a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer before passing away. Creating a will prevents loved ones from going to court and ensures that assets are given to the appropriate individuals.

Making the Most Out of Your Elder Years

For more information about retirement and Massachusetts Elder Law, call the Law offices of Adam Tobin, today!You’ve worked hard all of your life, and you want to enjoy your retirement years. You don’t want to worry about your affairs and finances while you are supposed to be having fun. Seek the services of an elder law attorney to help you plan and prepare so you can have a good time with family and friends. If you are an individual with elder parents, use this advice to help them prepare for their retirement with the help of an elder lawyer.

Planning for Your Life

Seek the services of a living trust attorney to help you set up a trust to take care of your finances now. All your financial obligations will be handled, and you will have money to enjoy and spend without worrying about tomorrow. Be sure to factor in your living expenses, and expenses you will have after you pass, such as funeral expenses and other obligations.

Wills and Trusts

Seek the services of an estate planning attorney, such as the Law offices of Adam Tobin, to set up a living will and trusts to manage your funds while you are alive. This will also allow you to take care of your loved ones after you pass away. You might also wish to seek the services of a probate lawyer to head off any problems that may arise.

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.

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

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!