Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Test Your Breast Cancer Knowledge and Access These Resources for Baby Boomers

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Oct 21, 2019

P42.Sullivan.OctBlog3Breast cancer remains one of the most terrifying cancer diagnoses to receive. While this form of cancer impacts both women and men, it remains the second leading cause of death for women and is expected to kill 41,760 women this year. 

There remain many myths surrounding breast cancer. As we focus on National Breast Cancer Awareness in the month of October, we want to test your knowledge on this disease. Ask yourself on each of the following statements, is it a myth or a fact?

- Breast cancer is one of the most contagious forms of cancer.

- Mammograms spread cancer.

- Men never get breast cancer.

- Most women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.

In fact, all of the above statements are myths. Further, what many people do not realize is that according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation “breast cancer death rates declined 40% from 1989 to 2016 among women. The progress is attributed to improvements in early detection.”  Baby Boomer women, however, do have an increased reason to be concerned, however, because the two most significant risk factors are gender and increased age.

Even though the disease mortality rate may be on the decline, this does not mitigate the situation when you or a loved one is diagnosed. You may be asking yourself: What can I do as a Baby Boomer, or an adult child, to help those I love? We would encourage you to consider these four resources:

  1. Learn more and engage with the “Beyond The Shock” Program. This is an initiative created to provide a twenty-four hour a day dedicated online support group where breast cancer survivors are available to answer questions, provide support, and create a strong community for newly diagnosed patients. 
  2. Consider the GriefShare Program. This support program was created for the survivors of those who battled cancer during their lifetime. It was created to be able to support those who have experienced the loss of a loved one and need support.
  3. Discuss your health care focused estate planning with your attorney. There is never a time when it is “too early” to plan but, especially in light of a new diagnosis, you never want to wait until it is “too late”. This means you need to create an estate plan while you are able to make your decisions that includes health care planning documents so that your loved ones will know who has the legal authority to make decisions and what your wishes are for those decisions. If you put off planning, then you may become incapacitated and unable to make these choices for yourself.
  4. Discuss with your attorney making charitable planning a priority. Many of our clients today add charitable planning goals and legacy gifts to their estate plan. There are specific charities, such as the ones mentioned above, and others like Locks of Love, who you are able to support during your lifetime or after you are gone. Whether you are creating this gift through your last will and testament or trust agreement, remember that it is critical to create this devise the way the intended charity would prefer. Do not wait to ask us more on how to create the right language in your estate planning documents.

We know just how difficult a time this can be. Whether you are planning for yourself or for a loved one, do not wait to contact us. Our knowledgeable legal team is ready, willing, and able to help you create an estate plan or long-term care plan to deal with any of the challenges you may be facing today, or well in the future.

Tags: Estate Planning, Health Care, Charitable Giving, health, cancer

Ways to Give Back This September 11th

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Sep 12, 2019


This September 11th marked the 18 year anniversary of the devastating terrorist attacks that shocked the nation. Throughout the years since the attacks, many initiatives have been created to support survivors and the families of victims. As we think about the victims of the September 11th attacks, however, do not forget to include charitable planning in your estate plan. To help you accomplish this, let us share with you a few tips to giving back to survivors and the families of victims through charitable planning.

  1. What is the significance of September 11th?

Eighteen years ago on September 11, 2001, nineteen men hijacked four United States commercial airplanes heading for the west coast. Two of the airplanes were intentionally flown into the north and south towers of the World Trade Centers in New York City, one airplane was flown into the Pentagon building in Washington D.C., and one crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. As a result, almost 3,000 people perished, and devastation was, and still is, felt around the world

  1. What is charitable planning?

Charitable planning is an effective way to support an important cause or charitable organization. This can be accomplished by making annual or periodic gifts throughout your lifetime. Charitable planning also provides you an opportunity to look ahead to a time when you may not be able to make charitable gifts yourself. Accordingly, you can leave a gift for a charity through your estate planning.

  1. Can I leave money without a plan?

While it is possible for you to leave money to a charitable organization without a plan, this is generally not advised. To help ensure that your gift is distributed accurately, it is important to set our clear instructions within your estate plan as to where the gift is going and how it will be distributed. This can be a somewhat complicated process, which is why we encourage you to consult with an experienced, local estate planning attorney who understands your specific needs and can help you accomplish your goals.

These are just a few of the ways that you can give back to September 11th victims and their families. Do you need more ideas? Do you have your own ideas that you would like to share with us? Do not wait to contact us. Further, if you are ready to include charitable planning in your estate plan, we encourage you to reach out to us to schedule an appointment. 



Tags: Charitable Giving, charitable

Estate and Long Term Care Planning for Women

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Aug 18, 2014


The Unique Challenges in Women Face with Estate Planning

Estate planning for women

Estate and Long Term Care Planning for Women can be different and full of confusing choices. Women are living longer today than ever before, and you will need an estate plan that can protect you from the new challenges arising daily. Let’s look at some of the more common situations below:

Married women tend to be younger than their husbands and tend to be on their own once their husband passes. Many married women let their husbands do all the financial planning, including their estate planning. Unfortunately this leaves many of them confused, or even blindsided by the oncoming costs that can appear with their estate and long term care options. Second marriages can create a whole new set of issues to deal with as well. Children from both marriages must be accounted for and must know what their responsibilities are going to be as well as fairly dividing their inheritance. For your own sake it would be best if you chose exactly who you would want to have power of attorney as well as whom you wish to have as your healthcare proxy. It is also important to update these documents regularly as many institutions do not accept them if they are more than a year old.

Single or childless women may choose to leave their possessions to close friends, relatives or charities. Without a good, up-to-date estate plan however, that won’t happen. Instead a bureaucrat appointed by the state will decide where your worldly goods will go when you’re gone. And for women living with a partner whom they are not legally married to, their partner won’t see one red cent of your estate unless you have an ironclad estate plan stipulating who gets what.

Your documents cannot do you much good unless they have been updated to reflect your current needs and situation. If you have gone through a separation or divorce you probably do not wish for your former partner to inherit your things or be making medical decisions about you. We have seen many cases where this has happened, and it is too late to change anything. Fortunately situations like this can be avoided by simply updating your documents regularly. At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates we provide clients with a unique Lifetime Protection Program to help keep their documents and plans up to date with any changes in their personal, family and health situations.

You must also consider what will happen if you require long term care and make sure there is going to adequate funding for what you may need in the future. Many people have made the mistake of giving away their savings in order to qualify for Medicaid without consulting a professional first. Not only was this unnecessary, they often still do not qualify because they did not plan for their situation ahead of time. Giving away their assets can even create large penalties if you ever need a nursing home. To learn more about some of the other mistakes to watch out for take a look at The Ten Biggest Estate and Asset Protection Mistakes People Make and How to Avoid Them! For a free report based on the book click here.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.


Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: asset protection, long term care, Nursing Homes, Estate Planning, Elder Law, assisted living, health care proxy, elder care, surviving spouse, coverage, marriage, death benefit, Charitable Giving, Beneficiary, estate, Estate Planning Recommendations, assets

How To Become a Tax-Savvy Philanthropist

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, May 27, 2011

The idea of giving to charity would seem to be a simple, but the simple methods aren’t always the best ones. Sometimes a bit of financial finesse can go a long way, helping both your charity of choice and your own finances. I refer to that as “doing well by doing good.”

If you want to be a tax-savvy philanthropist, consider using a time-honored strategy known as a “charitable remainder trust” (CRT).

A CRT allows you to give assets to charity in a tax-savvy manner that may even provide an income stream that helps both you and your charity. When the CRT is established, the assets you’ve chosen to donate are transferred to the trust. The charity you’ve chosen is the trustee, and manages the assets. They may pay you and/or your beneficiaries a portion of the income generated by the trust either for a certain number of years, or your entire life. At the end of the term, depending on the type of payout you’ve chosen, the charity receives the remainder of the principal in the trust.

This strategy works best when the underlying assets are highly appreciated, and by donating them to charity you can avoid a significant capital gains tax.

Of course, your family members may not be too happy to see those assets going to charity – so you may want to consider replacing their value for your heirs with life insurance.

You can learn more about charitable trusts by attending one of our free "Trust, Estate & Asset Protection" workshops.  Register online or call 800-964-4295.  While you're there, you might also want to read about Gifting Strategies for Estate Planning.

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Tags: Estate Planning, Charitable Giving, CRT, charitable remainder trust

Don't Leave Your Legacy To Chance

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Wed, May 18, 2011

If you are a Baby Boomer who has worked hard, accumulated significant assets, support charitable causes, and plan to continue working through “retirement,” you are not alone! And you won’t be particularly surprised by the findings of a recently released survey by US Trust: Insights on Wealth and Worth. The survey was conducted earlier this year, with 457 high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals, with $3 million or more in investable assets. The survey found a distinct generational mindset among the wealthy – many of whom are Baby Boomers, self-made, first generation wealthy who achieved financial success on their own.

You are probably familiar with some of these insights found by the survey:

  • Nearly half of these wealthy individuals plan to continue working into “retirement,” many starting a second career or new business.
  • Many also want to be able to travel – possibly “going mobile” with their business, perhaps even into retirement?
  • Many wealthy Americans want to give back to their communities and support charitable causes, and they may need professional legal advice to fulfill those ideals.
  • Few have the type of comprehensive estate planning in place that matches the complexity of their estate, their finances and their estate planning goals.

That last insight, about few people having the type of comprehensive estate planning they really need, may come as a surprise. I see this in my practice every day. Just because you have a simple will in place or believe the federal estate tax will not affect you, does not mean you have adequately met your estate planning needs. Some common “gaps” that turned up in the US Trust survey include:

  • No living will or health care directive
  • No durable financial power of attorney
  • No revocable living trust
  • Inadequate planning for life insurance
  • No charitable planning, despite charitable intent
  • No written plan for the distribution of personal property
  • No business succession plan.

If you saw yourself in the first paragraphs of this post, you likely saw yourself again in the last few. If you don’t take action, then you are leaving your legacy to chance.  

To learn more about protecting your legacy, attend a free, educational Trust, Estate & Asset Protection Workshop. Register online or call 800-964-4295.

Tags: Retirement, Estate Planning, Baby Boomers, durable power of attorney, living will, trusts, power of attorney, will, legacy, Business Succession Planning, Charitable Giving

The Charitable IRA Rollover--Everyone Wins

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Mar 10, 2011

It is not uncommon for a large portion of your wealth to be concentrated in tax-deferred retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s. From an estate planning standpoint, planning for these qualified accounts brings its own sets of issues and concerns. Because of their tax-deferred nature, the tax consequences can be significant, and mistakes quite costly.

The special nature of these funds also impacts charitable giving decisions. If you want to make sizable gifts during your lifetime, you may turn to your qualified retirement account(s) for these gifts. In so doing, however, you could meet head-on with negative tax consequences.

The Charitable IRA Rollover may be one solution to explore.

The IRA Charitable Rollover allows people age 70-1/2 or older who are subject to Required Minimum Distributions to donate up to $100,000 from their IRAs without first having to recognize the IRA distributions as ordinary income, or deal with the ceiling the IRS imposes on charitable contributions. If you make a charitable contribution from your IRA, you won’t get the charitable deduction for that amount, but the income avoidance should more than make up for that.

As with all things involving the IRS, there are restrictions. The rollover is available only for traditional and Roth IRAs. If you have a Simple IRR, SEP IRA or an employee-sponsored retirement account, you can’t use this tactic. Also, remember that the rollover must be made to a “qualified charity,” and that the check must go directly from the IRA to the charity. Don’t try routing the check through you.

If you choose to make a Charitable Rollover, you will receive a 1099R from the IRA’s custodian or trustee. However, the IRS has issued a new procedure to address it on the 1040 form.

You can learn more about tax-savvy giving strategies in the Tax Planning Strategies and Estate Tax Planning: Problems and Solution pages on our website. 

Tags: Estate Planning, Tax on IRAs, Tax Savings, Charitable Giving, IRA

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