Tag Archives: Trust

What is the Difference between Personal Property and Real Property

When you’re setting up your estate for your children or other heirs to inherit, what you don’t know about property can cost the people you care about a lot of money. One of the key areas of confusion when looking at your assets is the difference between real property and personal property. Each of these categories should be handled differently to maximize the amount of value that’s transferred to your heirs at your death and to minimize the state and federal taxes on your estate. A good estate planning attorney can help you make these plans, but it’s a good idea to understand the basics.

What is real property and what is personal property?

Real property (aka realty or real estate) is anything that is attached to land. This includes homes, out buildings and commercial property as well as the land itself. Plants and trees are considered real property if they don’t require cultivation. (So, an apple orchard is real property, while a field of grain is not.)

Personal property, as used by an elder law attorney in Massachusetts, is everything that is NOT real property. This includes everything from your clothes to your furniture to your car to your bank account. This category is often further divided into chattels and intangibles. Chattels are physical things, such as your watch or your television set, whereas intangibles are paper assets, such as your bank account, your 401k account and any stocks or bonds you may own.

Each of these categories of property requires special handling to maximize the value of your estate. To learn more about planning your estate, contact one of our elder law attorneys today.

 

Tips to keep earning even into retirement!

Retirees often have a skewed mindset as they enter their retirement. One of the biggest misconceptions is that retirement means you stop earning an active income and instead must rely on pensions and retirement savings plans to continue living comfortably. However, earning into retirement will give you more freedom to pay for post-retirement luxuries, like exotic vacations.

Secure a Part-Time Job

Retiring doesn’t mean that you have to stop going to work altogether. Individuals who have reached retirement age still have marketable skills. Look for a job in an area that you’re interested in and let the employer know the ideal schedule you’re seeking. Museums, universities, and country clubs are just a few examples of potential employers for retired part-time job seekers. Sporting arenas and retailers are examples of businesses that look to hire seasonal help if you don’t want a part-time job year-round.

Be Your Own Boss

Consulting is an ideal job for retirees who want to work on a project-by-project basis. You can be choosy about the projects you take on and can determine a fair rate for your services. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you may want to launch your own business. Home businesses are also popular amongst retirees and can be as simple as starting an eBay store and selling homemade creations or collectibles accumulated over years. Your home can also be used as a potential space for a rental income if you have a guest cottage or over the garage apartment on your property.

Keep Assets Invested

Withdrawing funds before you need them is a costly mistake for retirees. Review withdrawal rules and find out any penalties associated with taking money out too soon. Plan out how to best use your retirement funds as well. For instance, use funds first that are earning the least amount of interest.

Meeting with an estate planning attorney can help you develop strategies of keeping more money in your bank during retirement. An estate planning lawyer can do more than simply draw up wills and power of attorney documents. They can also assist in the process of putting any retirement plans into trusts and business entities to better protect your assets. Elder law attorneys are another type of legal professional that can be contacted to assist in any issues that arise as you plan out your post-retirement income.

 

Massachusetts Elder Law Planning for Long-Term Care

Planning for the long-term care or death of a loved family member is never a fun topic to take action on – but it’s necessary now to avoid frustration and chaos later. That’s why most elder attorneys recommend being proactive on the matter, especially when it comes to determining how to pay for long-term care, estate and will planning and power of attorney. Long-term care, for instance, can cost as much as $10,000 a month in some facilities. Are you or your elderly loved one prepared for those kinds of expenses?

First, we’ll discuss the matter of financing the required long-term care that your elderly family member may require. While your elderly loved one may qualify for some benefits via Medicaid or through a veteran’s aid pension, most families have to come up with at least some money to put toward paying for care, whether it be in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Some common ways that this can be financed include:

  • Through the liquidation of assets (i.e. selling the elderly family member’s home or car(s) to pay for the care).
  • Reverse mortgages.
  • Government assistance (i.e. through the aforementioned avenues such as Medicaid or veteran’s aid pension).

While financing and planning for a loved one’s long-term care can be confusing and overwhelming, that’s where a Massachusetts elder law attorney or a nursing home attorney can pay big dividends in walking you through all of the options and advising you on which one might be best for your elderly loved one as well as your own personal situation.

Usually when the topic of long-term care comes up, so does the topic of will and estate planning. This too is something that a qualified elder law attorney or estate planning lawyer can assist you with, as, just as in the case of planning for long-term care, estate and will planning can be overwhelming and confusing. Having the right people on your side can give you peace of mind and confidence that when the time comes, you’ll have a few less things to worry about. Waiting, on the other hand, can only make the situation more chaotic – which isn’t ideal for any party involved.

For more information on elder law planning for long-term care in the state of Massachusetts, contact one of our qualified attorneys today. We understand that it can be a difficult topic and situation to be in – and that’s why we specialize in making the process of financing long-term care, estate and will planning and power of attorney as seamless and as stress-free as possible. We realize that you’ve got important things to worry about when it comes to an elderly loved one, and we’re more than happy and willing to take these tasks off of your plate. Contact us today for more information.

What You Need to Know About Estate Planning and Divorce

Estate planning can be a difficult process under the best of circumstances, to say nothing of how long and involved things become if you’re also adding the stress of going through a divorce on top of it all. If you’re in the middle of a divorce, estate planning is likely not something that you want to think about. However, it’s important to understand that it is the most important thing that you SHOULD be thinking about for a wide range of different reasons. Working with a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer can help make sure that yourself and your assets are protected as the divorce proceedings move forward.

Changes Begin Immediately

Any estate planning attorney will tell you that the first thing you need to do after a divorce involves revoking your will and drafting a new one from the ground up. Prior to your divorce, your soon-to-be ex-spouse was probably a major factor in your will. Now that the relationship has ended, this will obviously no longer be the case. Working with an estate planning lawyer to revoke your old will and draft a new one will allow you to more accurately specify who is in charge of your estate, who certain pieces of property will be left to after your passing and more.

Update All of Your Beneficiaries

It stands to reason that your spouse was probably a beneficiary on a life insurance policy, a retirement account or some other form of investment that you made prior to the dissolution of your marriage. As a result, another important step to take as soon as possible involves working with an elder attorney to update who your beneficiaries are now that your marital status has changed. A Massachusetts estate planning attorney can help you go through and name new beneficiaries for all of the aforementioned accounts as well as for brokerage accounts, pay-on-death bank accounts that you may have set up with certain financial institutions at some point and more.

Name Your Trustee

Finally, make sure that your ex-spouse is not listed as the trustee on your estate and pick a new person to fulfill this important duty. A trustee does not have to be your financial advisor or even your elder attorney, but most be someone that you explicitly trust to handle your affairs and work with professionals when they are needed.

Long-Term Care Planning and the Responsibilities of Being the Family Caregiver

Understanding the process of long-term care planning, along with learn more about the responsibilities that go along with being a family caregiver, are hugely beneficial when it comes to helping move things along as smoothly as possible. Whether you are currently in the process of caring for a loved one or believe that you may have to do so at some point in the not-too-distant future, there are a number of important things to keep in mind.

Begin by contacting a Massachusetts estate planning attorney to help make sure that your loved one is taken care of not only from a financial perspective, but that you are also taken care of in the unfortunate event of their passing. The need for an estate planning attorney is especially high if you have siblings who you feel may challenge your loved one’s estate or will after their death.

You will also need to gain a deeper understanding of the importance of the care environment to help your loved one live as long and as healthy of a life as possible. Though your family member may wish to stay in their home for as long as possible, this won’t always be possible if they are to receive the care they need. Contacting a Massachusetts nursing home attorney can be a great way to not only get recommendations on top notch facilities in the area, but also to have a point of contact to turn to in the event that you run into an issue with the facility itself.

Providing long-term care for a loved one can be an expensive undertaking, which is another reason why an MA elder attorney can be so important. They can help make sure that funds are being allocated properly and that the state itself has the money necessary to provide the quality of life that your loved one so richly deserves. You will also want to contact a living trust attorney to set up a document of the same name if your loved one has not already done so on their behalf. A living trust is a legal document that makes sure both that funds are used to their benefit while they’re alive and that any remaining funds are transferred to the appropriate people after their death.

Getting Your Affairs in Order: Tips to Make Your Estate Planning a Smooth Process

Understanding the process of long-term care planning, along with learn more about the responsibilities that go along with being a family caregiver, are hugely beneficial when it comes to helping move things along as smoothly as possible. Whether you are currently in the process of caring for a loved one or believe that you may have to do so at some point in the not-too-distant future, there are a number of important things to keep in mind.

Begin by contacting a Massachusetts estate planning attorney to help make sure that your loved one is taken care of not only from a financial perspective, but that you are also taken care of in the unfortunate event of their passing. The need for an estate planning attorney is especially high if you have siblings who you feel may challenge your loved one’s estate or will after their death.

You will also need to gain a deeper understanding of the importance of the care environment to help your loved one live as long and as healthy of a life as possible. Though your family member may wish to stay in their home for as long as possible, this won’t always be possible if they are to receive the care they need. Contacting a Massachusetts nursing home attorney can be a great way to not only get recommendations on top notch facilities in the area, but also to have a point of contact to turn to in the event that you run into an issue with the facility itself.

Providing long-term care for a loved one can be an expensive undertaking, which is another reason why an MA elder attorney can be so important. They can help make sure that funds are being allocated properly and that the state itself has the money necessary to provide the quality of life that your loved one so richly deserves. You will also want to contact a living trust attorney to set up a document of the same name if your loved one has not already done so on their behalf. A living trust is a legal document that makes sure both that funds are used to their benefit while they’re alive and that any remaining funds are transferred to the appropriate people after their death.

10 Questions for an Elder Law Attorney

Elder law refers to the legal services specific to senior citizens. Here are some important questions you should ask when seeking elder law legal advice.

1. Why Do I Need an Elder Law Attorney?

An elder law attorney can provide you with the correct information to navigate complex legal issues such as taxes, social security, Medicare, Medicaid, Property and Trust laws, and more.

2. Are You Certified?

Elder law attorneys are certified through the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF). It is important to make sure your attorney has this certification to be sure they are an expert in elder law.

3. What Is Your Specialty?

Most attorneys have a specialty area. Your attorney may be an estate planning lawyer, or may have specialty in abuse, age discrimination, disability, asset protection, medical or mental health, retirement, or other areas where they excel above others.

4. What Experience Do You Have?

You want to be sure your attorney has a track record of handling the type of case you face. Ask them how long they’ve been in the field and what kinds of cases they’ve handled.

5. Are You Up-to-Date on Massachusetts Law?

Every attorney in the state needs to be current on the latest changes in Massachusetts’ laws, which constantly change and shift.

6. What Professional Associations Do You Have?

Many attorneys will hold memberships in professional associations. These should help your lawyer’s area of expertise. One such membership is NAELA, or the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc.

7. Are You Involved with Elder Law Concerns?

Beyond simply dealing with legal cases, a good attorney is active in elder law advocacy and education. Such involvement shows passion and dedication as well as knowledge.

8. Are You a Super Lawyer?

“Super Lawyer” is a title granted by your attorney’s peers on a state-by-state basis every year. Very few lawyers gain this honor, and those that do are the best of the best.

9. Are You a Medicaid and Medicare Expert?

The most common elder law issues involve these programs, and your lawyer should always be well-versed in their inner workings.

10. What Resources Are Available?

Your attorney should be able to provide you with a number of strong elder law resources such as Medicare, Medicaid, estate and trust law, ailments like Alzheimer’s and Crohn’s and more, so you can educate yourself.

For more information or advice regarding elder care law, give us a call today.

10 Asset Protection Mistakes

1. Doing Nothing at All

Instead of seeking an estate planning lawyer, many individuals make the mistake of doing nothing at all to protect their assets. As long as you have assets, they need to be protected, so speak to an experienced elder law attorney to get the protection you and your loved ones need.

2. Transferring the Entirety of Assets to Children or Loved Ones

While the intentions are honorable, this is imprudent estate planning. Tax consequences can be horrendous, and you can even be ineligible for Medicaid or other forms of assistance due to the legal complications involved in such a massive assets transfer. Avoid such behavior at all costs.

3. Poor Gift Planning

Transfers to donees of a gift should be done carefully, which entails proper planning and structure. An estate planning lawyer will develop a strategy for maximum asset control and protection.

4. Putting All Your Faith in a Living Trust or Will

Wills take effect only after death, and living trusts do not protect assets from Medicaid and nursing homes. Simply put, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.

5. Thinking It’s Mandatory to Sell the Family Home for Nursing Care

When transitioning to a nursing home, many people still erroneously think they have to sell the family home. This is not true, so avoid that trap if you want to keep the home within the family.

6. Forgetting to Take Advantage of State Law Exemptions

Every state differs with respect to their statutory exemptions, but it pays to know them. A Massachusetts estate planning lawyer will work with you to determine the extent of your exemptions under Massachusetts law. IRAs, annuities, life insurance and other classes of assets may be exempt, and attorneys will consider all of this when estate planning.

7. Not Seeking Out a Seasoned Elder Law Attorney for Elder Law Legal Advice

When it comes to asset planning and protection, elder law legal advice is imperative. Not all attorneys know the laws that vary from state to state, which is why a seasoned elder law attorney is essential for you to protect your assets in the best way possible.

8. Ignoring the Possibility of Medicaid Estate Recovery

Too many people view Medicaid recovery as a threat that rarely happens. It does happen, and more often than you think. An elder law attorney will help you prepare for this possibility.

9. Using a Guardianship

This form of planning for a person’s incapacity is costly and wasteful since it can get bogged down in the courts. The best elder law legal advice on this issue comes from attorneys that help you plan without resorting to the hassles of a guardianship.

10. Involving Family Members with Joint Ownership

Joint ownership increases the likelihood of time-consuming disqualification periods, so this is undesirable for the same reasons as an entire assets transfer. Worse, it may not even protect your assets, so this is another estate planning idea that is best avoided.

 

Tips on Protecting Your Assets with Elder Law

Asset protection helps keep your property and the property of your loved ones safe. Many people make the mistake of relying solely on a will or living trust, but asset protection goes beyond this. Through careful planning you and your loved ones can protect hard-earned assets for the benefit of your family. As you begin to consider your options for asset protection, use these tips to help guide you through the process:

Know your overall worth.

The first step to estate planning is taking inventory of your property and determining its value. You also want to make a list of all of your debts to help you determine your net worth. With this in mind, you can begin to consider your financial goals for retirement and where estate planning fits into this overall picture.

Determine which assets still need protection.

After you have made a list of all of your assets, consult with your Estate Planning Lawyer to determine which are protected and which still need protection. Your attorney will help you decide which unprotected assets you will need to focus on first and can help you better understand all of your security options.

Seek the advice of an Elder Law Attorney.

Asset protection can often be complex and overwhelming for those who do not have experience with basic or advanced estate planning. An experienced attorney can give you Elder Law Legal Advice, answer any questions you may have about the process, and help ensure that your assets are protected.

The most important thing to remember about asset protection is that it pays to plan early. If you or a loved one need assistance planning your estate or will, contact an experienced Elder Law attorney to help guide you through the process.

Elder Law: When Do I Need an Attorney?

Worried about your parents or relatives as they age? The following situations require elder law legal advice:

Estate Planning

An estate planning lawyer can help your loved one distribute their assets after death while avoiding taxes and liabilities. If your parents have more than $2,000 in assets when they begin receiving nursing home or end-of-life care, they are not allowed to use MassHealth funds until they have exhausted their own wealth. By placing your loved ones’ assets in trusts or in certain types of insurance and annuities, however, estate planning lawyers can exempt their wealth from this requirement, ensuring you a larger inheritance.

Nursing Home Care

Placing your loved ones in a nursing home is as difficult financially as it is emotionally. If your parents cannot pay for their own care, Massachusetts law requires you to reimburse Medicaid for their nursing home costs. To avoid these costs, you will either have to prove that your parents did not support you in your youth or that you do not have sufficient means.

Age Discrimination

If your loved ones continue to work in their old age, they may be vulnerable to age discrimination. Employers often try to force their elderly employees to retire or deny them standard raises and opportunities, making it difficult for the elderly to maintain steady employment. Age discrimination is illegal, but often difficult to prove. If you believe your loved ones are suffering from discrimination, consult a lawyer and gather as much evidence as you can of mistreatment. You may have cause for legal action.

For more information, contact us today!