Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog


Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Aug 02, 2019


Congratulations!!! Your child is getting ready to college. It is an exciting time in your and your child’s life as they get ready to venture on their own. It is really important to prepare for eventualities.

Health Insurance Coverage – Is that enough?

With Affordable Car Act young adults can be on the parent’s health insurance plan till they are 26 years old. You may have health insurance coverage for your child through your plan but that is not enough. As they venture on their own, they need some additional estate planning documents to protect them.

You might wonder, " Why would a child need an estate plan? Estate planning is only for older people with substantial assets." But remember your child is an adult when he/she becomes 18 in Massachusetts and in case of disability due to illness or accident, they need someone else to make decisions for them in case of emergency.  Once a child becomes 18 and is considered legally an adult you may not be able to access your child’s financial, educational and medical information in an emergency.

If your child has not set up all the required documents giving you authority, you may be forced into a completely preventable court conservatorship and experience delays in making those critical decisions. This does not even take into consideration paperwork, attorney fees and court costs.

This may waste valuable time at a critical point in healthcare decision process. There is a simple way to avoid these headaches. Get some of these important documents ready before your child goes off to college.

Important documents that are required are:

  1. HIPPA release document
  2. Healthcare Proxy
  3. Durable General Power of Attorney

HIPPA release document

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is United States legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information. This and a corresponding Massachusetts law limits access to an adult's private health information, even by a parent or other close relative. A HIPAA Authorization document provides a waiver for this confidentiality and allows a parent (or other appointed person) access to the young adult's hospital admission information and medical records. It also gives permission to speak with medical professionals regarding the person's condition and medical treatment recommendations. Believe it or not without this document you may not even be notified when you child is hospitalized in even of an emergency.

Health Care Proxy – Advanced health care directive – Your healthcare proxy  is a legal document that permits the parent (or other appointed person) to make medical decisions if your child is not in a position to make their own decisions - - everything from immediate lifesaving treatment, to operations, transfusions, rehab treatment, all the way to the decision about long-term life sustaining treatment like tube-feeding and hydration. Children and/or grandchildren (and often their parents) rarely think they'll ever become so disabled by illness or accident, but they could. In a moment of crisis this access to health professionals is vital for all those trying to help.

The above documents address child's medical related matters, but there might be financial or educational matters which may need to be taken care of if the child becomes disabled due to illness or accident?

Durable Power of Attorney

This is why, a Durable Power of Attorney is essential. It empowers the child's parent (or other appointed person) to handle immediately, without going to Court, important matters such as; accessing bank accounts and credit cards; paying bills; accessing online accounts (including online banking); entering contracts with third parties (including with an attorney, if legal representation is necessary); and obtaining educational records. This is especially important in case of an accident and when you need legal representation and your child can not make those decisions.

With 25 + years of experience in estate planning and Elder law, we have seen a lot. Because of this, we provide valuable guidance and direction for you and your family not only getting the appropriate documents ready for you and your family, but also serving as a guide for you all for the next month, semester and chapter in your lives. In order to help you and your family, friends and neighbors,we even provide free reports, books and videos at If it is helpful you can even attend  free workshops provided every month with your choice of day, evening and Saturday morning times and locations. Call now 800-964-4295. If you can not join us live, but would like our help, we have a few complimentary DVDs of prior events which may help you learn what you need to know. Call for your complimentary copy today while we still have a few left.

Your family matters! We help you achieve and maintain the peace of mind you deserve now and in the years ahead.

At Estate Planning and Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan and Associates we understand how important this is for your family and even provide a  complementary benefit for all members of Lifetime Protection Plan. If your child(or grandchild) is 18 years old,living at home, we will work with you and your child to get these documents ready so that your child and you are protected. Even if you are not a member of Lifetime Protection Plan, we will still help you get ready when your child is ready to go to college for a nominal fee because we believe it is vital to protect you and your family.

Contact us today at 800.964.4295 for more information or to register for the estate planning workshops. Visit our website at

Tags: college planning, healthcare proxy, HIPPA release

Tips for Protecting Your College Student in a New Semester Through Estate Planning

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Feb 01, 2019


Even young people need estate planning


Whether your child is just beginning to receive college acceptance letters or is preparing to leave home for the upcoming semester, your child is planning ahead for his or her future. As a parent, protecting your child does not stop when he or she leaves for college. Your role in their life, however, may have changed. Once your child turns 18, he or she is considered an adult in the eyes of the law. Accordingly, your ability to help him or her with their finances or medical decisions may be limited. We know this can be a challenging and emotional time, which is why we want to share a few ways to use estate planning to protect your child when they are not with you.

The first step, and perhaps the most important one, is to talk to your child about their planning options. As a parent, it is important to express any concerns you may have about their safety and well-being. Try to remember that your child is now an adult and may be hesitant to allow you access to their bank account or medical records. Talking to them about the importance of creating planning documents, however, and sharing examples of scenarios where you would use your decision-making authority may help make this conversation easier.

After you have had this discussion with your child, we encourage you to think about your goals for your child’s protection and the types of planning documents you need. A durable power of attorney is a document that provides you with the authority to make decisions if a legal or financial situation arises while your child is away at college. This can be for simple matters, for example, if there are issues with your child’s lease or if you would like access to your child’s grades. It is important to keep in mind that if you do not have an established durable power of attorney, your child’s bank, college, or rental company is within their rights to refuse sharing your child’s information with you, even as their parent.

Finally, health care documents are a crucial part to any estate plan, particularly when it comes to your college student. If you do not have HIPAA authorization, for example, or a health care power of attorney set up, medical professionals could refuse to allow you access to your child’s medical records. Designating a health care power of attorney before your child leaves for college can help combat this issue from arising.

College is an exciting time for both you and your child. No matter where your child lives, however, accidents and unexpected situations can arise. By planning ahead and creating planning documents for your child’s protection, you can feel confident handling any circumstance that comes up. If you have any questions or are ready to begin planning, do not wait to contact our office or attend a free seminar to learn more.


Tags: living will, Single, New Year's Resolutions, college planning, Estate Planning Recommendations, health, children, doctor, heir, grandchildren, 2019

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.

estate planning, elder law, massachusetts

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

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

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: family, 529 plans, college planning, estate reduction

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