Get Answers to Your Questions
One of the things that makes elder law so different from other areas of practice is that elder law attorneys are often trying to put plans and solutions in place for their clients. Offering a client a complete plan frequently means putting together a team of people all focused on achieving the client’s goals. I am pleased to have been asked to join a presentation with such a team. We will be presenting a panel discussion on June 7, 2012 at 6:00 P.M., hosted by Maria Reid of Atria Maplewood Place, Malden, MA. There will be a light supper served, and the panel will offer their expertise in planning for senior living and care. Seating is limited, so please let Maria know if you wish to attend by June 1, 2012. You can reach her by calling (781) 324-4999.
We hope to cover as many issues as possible, including: how to safely remain in the home; how to transition to an assisted living facility; how to pay for the cost of an assisted living facility; the best way to prepare your home for sale; and whatever question you may have.
I hope to see you there!
On the panel are:
Karen Hurwitz: Visiting Angels, Medford, MA
Mary Lou Bigelow: Senior Real Estate Specialist at Bowes Real Estate.
Joy M. Camp, Ph.D.: C&Z Transitions, Melrose, MA
Dale Tamburro, Esq., Belmont, MA
I just came across this NBC news story on the Department of Veterans Affairs Aid and Attendance benefit. The report again stresses that this monthly benefit can make an enormous difference in helping Veterans, their spouses, or widows, pay for the cost of long-term care – if only they knew about it.
(The video is less than 3 minutes long.)
On April 26, 2012 I will be giving a free seminar on the Veterans Aid and Attendance benefit at the Arnold House in Stoneham, Massachusetts. Fellow elder law attorney Nancy Hogan, Esq., and I will explain what this benefit means and how veterans and their spouses may qualify. The presentation is free and open to the public. However, seating is limited, so please call the Arnold House at (781) 438-1116 to reserve your seat.
What is Aid and Attendance?
The Social Security Administration announced that starting on December 30, 2011, social security recipients will receive a 3.6 percent increase in benefits. Increases in social security benefits are based on a cost of living adjustment (COLA). For the first time since the automatic COLA adjustment was put in place (1975), there were no increases in benefits for 2010 and 2011.
The average monthly social security check is $1,082.00. With the 2012 adjustment, that will mean an additional $39.00 per month. The largest increase was in 1981 when benefit checks increased 11.2 percent.
Social Security Administration: How COLA is Calculated
Social Security Administration: Chart of COLA Increases from 1975-2012
Every year the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys co-sponsor an event for elder law education. This year, the topic is “Taking Control of Your Future – A Legal Checkup.”
Many of the area Councils on Aging request an attorney to come in and give a presentation. This year I will be at The Arlington Council of Aging on May 26, 2011, starting at 1:30.
The topics to be covered will include: Medicaid and protecting assets, Reverse Mortgages, Long-Term Care Insurance, and real estate tax exemptions and deferrals. I will also be happy to answer any questions about what documents you should have in place, the probate process, the difference between Wills and Trusts – whatever topics may be of interest. I hope to see you there.
I do not know how I missed this, but Saturday, April 16, 2011 was National Health Care Decision Day (NHDD). The idea behind this day is to “encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever they may be.” NHDD has a lot of wonderful resources on their web page.
I have also been asked to participate in a “Final Affairs Fair” in Burlington, Massachusetts, on May 1, 2011. I will be bringing the health care form “5 Wishes,” from Aging With Dignity, and will be giving them away to anyone who wants one. Please feel free to stop by to pick up the form and ask any questions you may have.
The new Massachusetts Homestead Law goes into effect today, March 16, 2011. Secretary of State William Galvin provides a brief summary of the new law on his website.
In addition, the new Homestead forms are now available for download. There are two available forms:
1. Homestead for Individual Owners, including those over 62 years.
If both spouses are over 62 years old, each should file their own Declaration of Homestead. This will protect the property if one spouse passes away. Another change for the better is that when the second spouse files, the filing date will go back to the date of the first filing. Before today, any new filing would automatically have voided the earlier filing, possibly subjecting the property to any claims for the dates between the two filings.
2. Homestead for Property in a Trust.
This is completely new form because, for the first time, Massachusetts allows trustees to sign and record the Declaration of Homestead.
In December I wrote about some of the changes that come with the new Homestead Law. Among them are:
- Automatic protection of $125,000.00 even if no Declaration of Homestead is filed;
- $500,000 worth of protection if a Declaration of Homestead is filed at the Registry of Deeds; and
- Trustee(s) are now allowed to sign and file a Declaration of Homestead.
Some parts of the Homestead Law remain the same:
- The filing fee is still $35.00;
- The Declaration of Homestead must still be filed in the Registry of Deeds in which the property is located;
- Filing a Declaration of Homestead will not protect against claims from Medicaid when the recipient dies; a mortgage secured by the property; or a judgment for spousal or child support.
Secretary Galvin also has a booklet available: Questions and Answers: The Homestead Act.
Every month I send an E-Newsletter that has articles on estate planning and elder law topics. If you would like to subscribe to this E-Newsletter please feel free to sign up.
This month’s topic is “Estate Planning for Singles.” Whether divorced, widowed, or never married, nearly half the population is single. Read why estate planning is just as – and maybe even more important important – for single people as married couples.
Every month I send an E-Newsletter that has articles on Estate Planning and Elder Law topics. If you would like to subscribe to my E-Newsletter, please feel free to sign up. The topic this month is the challenge facing parents of children with Special Needs. With a little advanced planning, a potential inheritance may be used to supplement any benefits being received, but not financially disqualifying the child from receiving those much needed governmental benefits.
On January 7, 2011, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed “An Act Relative to Trusts For The Care of Animals.” This law will finally allow Massachusetts residents to create legally enforceable trusts that can hold money for the care of their animals. The animal will now be able to be the beneficiary of the trust, with a Trustee appointed to manage the funds and care for the pet. The new law will take effect on April 7, 2011.
Without this law, Massachusetts pet owners can only leave that money to a person, and hope that the money would be used to care for the pet. The caretaker was under no legal obligation to actually use the money for the pet. Now, Massachusetts joins 43 other states that allow “Pet Trusts.”
Probably the most famous beneficiary of a “Pet Trust” was Leona Helmsley’s Maltese poodle, Trouble Helmsley. Trouble originally inherited $12,000,000 but this was reduced to $2,000,000 at the request of the Trustee. Apparently,Trouble is able to make ends meet with the reduced inheritance.