Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney | Critical Planning Documents for College Students

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Jan 28, 2013

HIPPA, Health Care Proxy, College Student, Estate PlanningIs your "baby" going away to college? Have they recently gone away to college? If so, you've no doubt spent a lot of time poring over lists lately to determine what's a "want" and what's a "need."

You've been planning, and dreading, this day for a couple of years and you've most likely been saving for it for a lot longer than that.  Chances are, you're prepared.  There are however, some things for which you just can't prepare, like accidents or other tragedies.

That's why you need to have your child sign two critical documents.

If your child is already 18 you already know that, legally, they are an adult.  As a result of federal privacy laws, the college they attend generally can not divulge medical information to you.

This is why every child going away to school should sign a Health Care Proxy and HIPAA Authorization.  This way, if tragedy or illness strikes, you'll be able to get the information you need. It doesn't matter if you gave birth to that child.  You won't be able to get any information on his health status unless there's a signed HIPAA authorization.

What happens if there's an accident, and your child ends up in a coma? Who's going to mnake necessary medical decisions? If there's no Health Care Proxy, you may have to go to court to get a guardianship designation so you are in control.

Tragedy has its own timetable however, and going to court could cost you more than just financially if it takes too much time.  Remember Terry Schiavo?

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 education 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 to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your beneficiaries, digital assets, Estate Plan and legacy.

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Tags: health care proxy, HIPAA, Baby Boomers, college planning, Estate Planning Tip, Attorney

Grandparents Can Help Their Family With College Bills

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, May 09, 2011

If you are a grandparent wanting to help your grandchildren with the future costs of college tuition, pay attention now. Recent tax changes are making it easier for you to help pay education bills for your grandchildren – and even future generations. The generous exemption increases in the federal gift and generation-skipping taxes are in effect now through 2012. Most experts believe this federal generosity may be short-lived, so now may be an excellent time to plan.

Tuition rates are rising steadily, and helping your grandchildren (or great grandchildren) obtain a good education without the burden of hefty loans is an excellent way to give them a “leg up” in the world. Finding a tax-savvy way of doing it is even better – especially for you!

Directly paying tuition is the simplest technique, and the most efficient. A grandparent is allowed to pay an unlimited amount of their grandchild’s tuition directly to the school without incurring the gift tax or eating away at their gift tax exemption and, if you’re looking at a school like Harvard, this also could be a potent estate reduction technique. Some schools also allow you to pay upfront for all four years, lock-in tuition rates, and avoid future increases (pre-paying tuition does not guarantee admission).

A less direct route comes in the form of 529 college-savings plans, by which you plug money into a trust especially designed for education. The advantage here is that the 529 plan can outlive you, and for that reason can serve as the better model if you are funding a toddler’s future education. This grants greater leverage but there are, of course, tax liability and ownership issues. For more information, download our

Attending one of our Trust, Estate & Asset Protection workshops is a good starting point, but you are well-advised to seek competent counsel before giving away any assets or establishing any type of irrevocable planning.

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Tags: estate reduction, college planning, 529 plans, family

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