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Estate Planning

Friday, September 24, 2021

Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples


Statistics show that couples are waiting longer and longer to get married.  In addition, there are many alternatives to marriage, such as domestic partnerships, that are becoming more normalized.  It is important for these couples to understand that there may be a stronger need for estate planning then there is for married couples.  Without proper estate planning, unmarried couples will not inherit or be able to make critical decisions for their significant other.

There are two general purposes to estate planning.
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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Home Held in Trust is Not a “Countable” Asset


Emily Misiaszek and her husband created an irrevocable trust during their lifetime, the corpus of which included their home.  The terms of the Irrevocable Trust granted the Misiaszeks the right, during their lifetime, a limited power of appointment to appoint all or any portion of the trust principal to a nonprofit or charitable organization over which they have no controlling interest.  When Ms. Misiaszek applied for MassHealth long-term care benefits, she was denied on the basis that the home was a countable asset.  The Massachusetts Office of Medicaid’s Board of Hearings affirmed MassHealth’s decision, but a Superior Court judge reversed the board’s ineligibility determination.
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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

In Terrorem Clauses Have Power in Massachusetts


One of the most powerful clauses in a will or a trust is the in terrorem clause, which is more commonly referred to as a “no-contest” clause.  In terrorem means “in fear” in Latin and is an appropriate name for the clause as if someone challenges a will or a trust with an in terrorem clause and the challenge is not successful, there can be dire consequences for the challenger.  Namely, a challenger to a will or trust with an in terrorem clause risks losing all of his or her rights and interest under a will or trust.

Almost a year ago, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled in the matter of Capobianco v. Dischino, Mass.
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Friday, May 21, 2021

SJC Puts a 3 Year Limit on MassHealth Estate Claims


A recent Supreme Judicial Court decision confirmed that MassHealth has a statute of limitations of three years from a beneficiary’s death to file its claim for reimbursement on the beneficiary’s estate or MassHealth’s Claim is completely barred.

The Court recently made this ruling In the Matter of Estate of Kendall, 486 Mass. 522 (2020).  In this matter, Jacqueline Ann Kendall died intestate on August 7, 2014.  At the time of her passing, Ms.
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Thursday, February 18, 2021

Testamentary Capacity


Testamentary Capacity

by Samuel S. Reidy, Esq.

February 18, 2021

Unfortunately, it has become an all-too-common story.  A loved one is stricken with dementia and during the period he or she does not have possession of all of their facilities, an estate planning change is suddenly made.  Sometimes this new (and often unexpected) estate planning means the changing of beneficiaries in a Will, or a new Health Care Proxy or Durable Power of Attorney being named, or the transfer of real estate.
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Friday, September 25, 2020

The Importance of a Health Care Proxy in Massachusetts


One of the three most basic estate planning documents is the health care proxy.  This is the document where an individual gives permission to another person to make health care decisions on their behalf in the event they are incapacitated or unable to make health care decisions for themselves.  This document is especially important in Massachusetts because under Massachusetts law, there is no identified law that allows for the appointment of a default surrogate under any circumstances.  That means that your spouse, parents, and children have no legal right to make health care decisions for you.

Massachusetts is in the minority with regards to the treatment of health care proxies.
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Friday, August 21, 2020

Powers of the Personal Representative in Massachusetts


Powers of the Personal Representative in Massachusetts

by Samuel S. Reidy, Esq.

August 21, 2020

One area of confusion in Massachusetts estate planning is regarding the powers and responsibilities of an the Personal Representative of an estate (formally referred to as an Executor or Executrix).  When an individual executes his or her Last Will and Testament they have to select a Personal Representative and (often) successor personal representatives.  This is often an area of confusion for the individual finalizing his or her Will.
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Monday, September 30, 2019

How To Hold Title To Real Estate in Massachusetts


One common estate planning question that homeowners and soon-to-be-homeowners in Massachusetts ask is what is the best way to hold title to their real estate.  In Massachusetts, co-owners who purchase real estate have three choices as to how they take title in the deed: (1) tenants in common; (2) joint tenants; and (3) tenants by the entirety.  Each has its own criteria, and pros and cons that are important when deciding how to purchase your property.

The first way of holding title to real estate in Massachusetts is the default form of title for non-married persons: tenants in common.  If a deed does not specify how the property is held, Massachusetts law automatically holds that it is held as tenants in common.
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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Digital Assets in Estate Administration (the Ajemian case)


Online and digital profiles and currency have only increased in popularity over the past decade and will likely do so for the foreseeable future.  Cash is being replaced by PayPal, Venmo, and BitCoins; the phone book has been replaced by Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor; and bank and financial institutions send bills and statements through e-mail as opposed to regular mail.  While all of these technological innovations have their benefits, there is still the lingering question of what happens to your digital estate after you have passed away.  A recent Massachusetts case has analyzed a personal representative's authority to obtain access to the contents of a decedent's email and digital assets without express instructions from the decedent.

On August 10, 2006, John Ajemian passed away unexpectedly leaving no will.
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Monday, June 24, 2019

Mass Health and Testamentary Trusts


In order to qualify for Mass Health, individuals must have no more than $2,000 in assets.  Oftentimes this leads to people panicking and trying to spend or hide all of their money and assets.  Irrevocable trusts are a great tool to protect assets for Mass Health eligibility, however Mass Health has a very strict five year look back period, meaning any transfer of assets must have occurred more than five years prior to eligibility.  Unfortunately, many people do not plan far enough in advance (or there is an unexpected injury or illness at a young age) and the five year period is devastating on the healthy spouse's financial future.  There is a strategy that can avoid heartache in the future.
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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Benefits of a Revocable Trust


While it is true that Irrevocable Trusts provide more complete and far reaching protection for your assets, there are benefits to utilizing Revocable Trusts as well.  Many clients are spooked by the idea of an irrevocable trust, which takes away both your ownership and control over your assets in exchange for protection if you have to go into a nursing home.  Revocable trusts do not offer protection from nursing homes, but there are still benefits to utilizing them.

First and foremost, if your assets are held in a revocable trust, this avoids the probate process which will save your loved ones significant money when you pass away.  A properly drafted revocable trust promotes greater efficiency and a smooth transition of assets in the manner in which you would like your assets to transfer.
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