Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

The Importance of a Well Crafted Power of Attorney

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Jan 23, 2015

The Importance of a Well Crafted POA | Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney

 law_books

 

As we always tell our clients, a power of attorney is just as important, if not more important to you, as your will.  Yet most people pay far more attention to the drafting of their will and give their power of attorney (POA) little or no thought. 

A last will and testament establishes your desires as to whom and in what manner you choose to leave my possessions and assets when you die.  While meaningful to you, it is more relevant to the persons receiving those assets after you’re gone.  A power of attorney, however, is critical to your well-being while you are still alive. The power of attorney is used at a time when someone is at their most vulnerable, when you can no longer take care of your own affairs and need the assistance of the person or persons who has been designated as your agent(s).

However, setting up a power of attorney has always been an afterthought for many people.  Before computers, a common response to the need for a POA was to pick up a preprinted document from the stationery store, today’s version is to print the document from a website found on the internet, such as LegalZoom.com. Both usually contain language no more specific than “I give my agent the authority to do anything that I can do as a principal”. In fact the fine print on the site informs you that “We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies.”  If that is the case, how could you rely on their “non-legal” documents to take care of yourself and your family?

 Even when an attorney drafts the document, many will use a one size fits all approach that can often be detrimental to the client.  I think that the ease with which this document can be created has led to the myth of its low value in the eyes of the general public. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here is a recent situation that we faced in our office that serves as an example to highlight the importance of the document and how critical a role it plays in achieving our client’s goals and objectives. 

 

We had drafted the client’s power of attorney.  It contains language permitting the agent “to enter any safe deposit box or vault on which [the principal is] a signer and withdraw or add to its contents”.  The agent wanted to close the account and surrender the box.

The bank employee reading the clause concluded that this power did not include the ability to close out the box (although he agreed the agent could close the bank account).  This is a situation we have come across frequently, an evaluation of the document limited to the express language, rather than examining the document as a whole.  Courts have reasoned that the whole document must be examined, and each clause should be used to interpret the others.

If the agent has the power to remove and add contents to the safe deposit box then he has the power to “deal with” the box and therefore has an implied power to open and close the box.  We could have had relied in this argument with the bank, however, there was another paragraph in the document that permitted the agent to conduct any banking transaction authorized by a specifically referenced Massachusetts statute.  I pointed out to the bank employee the specific language in that law authorizing the agent to open and closed safe deposit boxes.  What could have been a long, drawn-out problem was solved quickly through a carefully worded power of attorney.

In our 27 years helping people and their families, I have had numerous instances in which third parties, usually financial institutions, question the language in our documents.  As a result, we are constantly updating them.  The take away here it to make sure you have a detailed, well drafted power of attorney.  Don’t opt for the vague, 2 page, cookie-cutter documents printed off the internet.  It could easily be one of the most costly mistakes you ever make.

 

For more on the mistakes and oversights that can affect people and their families, take a look at our new book: The 10 Biggest Estate Planning and Asset Protection Mistakes People Make and How to Avoid Them! 2nd edition, now including the special bonus chapter, The Biggest Long Term Care Planning Oversights and Opportunities for Long Term Care

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we provide a unique education and counseling process which includes our unique 19 Point Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Review to help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones, click here for more information. We provide clients with a unique 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: probate, durable power of attorney, trusts, power of attorney, transfer of assets, Wills

Great News About Long Term Care Planning for You and Your Loved Ones

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Aug 01, 2014

More Good News: Estate Planning and Long-Term Care Planning

 Medicare family

Our firm has helped people and their families with long-term care planning for more than 20 years. While helping people, it is very important to help focus  on the health, long term care and estate and life planning needs for the individual and family. This is a holistic approach that helps families plan for obtaining the best quality care in their home, the community or perhaps assited living. Many people we help are also concerned  about the devastating cost of a Medicaid spend down of assets due to a long-term nursing home stay.

 

We have also had other success in Medicaid crisis planning relying on other strategies that are available in Massachusetts law,unlike some other states, that allow  citizens to pay part of their costs with their assets and eventually qualify for long-term care assistance to the Medicaid program.

 

Some people also have a long-term care insurance policy to help pay fort care at home, in the community and many times their plan will even will provide a care coordinator. Thus, we do recommend you contact your insurance advisor to look into the possibility of obtaining long-term care insurance while you can still qualify under medical underwriting.

 

If any of these topics concern or interest you please contact our office at 781-237-2815 to consult with our attorneys or request a copy of our Seniors and Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty for $14.95 or is available from www.DSullivan.com. We would be happy to be your guides on your Estate Planning/Elder Care journey.

 

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: Estate Planning, Estate Planning, Elder Law, asset protection, long term care, Medicare, durable power of attorney, estate reduction, Estate Planning Tip, estate, estate tax, Massachusetts, senior, Medicare, asset, Estate Planning Recommendations, Dennis Sullivan, long term care insurance

The Bank Says I Need Guardianship For My Parents

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Thu, Jul 10, 2014

Estate Planning, POA

 

The bank told Jane they would not honor her parent’s power of attorney (POA),  designating her as agent.  They instead insisted she would need to apply for guardianship.  Last time, I told you that the bank’s position violates Massachusetts law.

Why?  Because they did not have a specific reason for refusing to honor Jane’s POA.    Instead they said they won’t honor any POA s which are not one of “their own”.  Massachusetts’s law on powers of attorney specifically states that “banking institutions shall accept and rely on a power of attorney which conforms to this act and shall permit the agent to act . . . provided that the banking institution shall refuse to rely on [the POA] if (1) the signature of the principal is not genuine, or (2) the employee of the banking institution . . . has received actual notice of the death of the principal, of the revocation of the POA or of the disability of the principal at the time of the execution of the POA.”    The bank is not obligated to rely on the POA if it believes in good faith that one of these reasons is present.

The  statute goes on further to state that if the bank refuses to honor the POA, it must provide in writing the reason for its rejection to the address provided to it by the agent.  In Jane’s case, the bank has not acted in good faith.  Jane’s parents are still alive.  The bank has no basis to believe they revoked the document or that they were disabled at the time of the signing (that they lacked the legal capacity to sign).  Her parents signed the documents in my office and I notarized them so it is clear the document is genuine.

As I said, the bank isn’t using any of those reasons.  But, the law doesn’t allow it to reject the POA for any other reasons.  I asked Jane for the phone number of the person at the bank she had been dealing with.  When I called, that person put me in touch with someone in their legal department.  Sure enough I got the same explanation of their “policy”.    When I pointed out the language in the statute and that if we had to pursue guardianship, we would ask the court to order the bank to pay all attorney fees and court costs associated with an unnecessary legal action, he started to back pedal.  “Maybe we can accept the POA,” he told me.

After an internal conversation within the bank, he called back and said everything would be OK.  Jane would be able to access her parent’s account using our POA.  Of course, it shouldn’t have been this difficult.  The law is pretty clear on what a bank can and can’t do.  But, the bank was looking out for its own interests in this case to the detriment of its customer.   They are concerned about potential fraud.  Requiring a court ordered guardian to be appointed in each case covers the bank.  But the bank imposed a more restrictive process than what the law requires.  What they can’t do is make their own rules if those rules violate state law.

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: Estate Planning, durable power of attorney, Massachusetts

Do You Have A Support System?|Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Feb 21, 2014

Support, Estate Planning

It’s a growing epidemic, the number of aging Americans who have no one who would naturally be their support system as their health declines and they need assistance.  A New York Times article the other day, titled “The Childless Plan for Their Fading Days”, highlights this problem and what some seniors are doing about it.

In our practice, we’ve seen an increase in single and/or childless seniors who need assistance.  According to a recent  AARP report, nearly 12% of women between 80 and 84 in 2010 had no children.  Coupled with the fact that many of these women are widowed, divorced or never married, they have no natural support system.  Who will step into the roles of financial and healthcare decision makers, when they need it?

This problem will become even more acute when we consider that the baby boomer generation, Americans between the ages of 50 and 68, who make up the largest percentage of the caregivers right now, will themselves need care in the next 20 years.  Here are some numbers to consider.

According to the same AARP report, the number of people ages 45 to 64, the peak caregiving years, is expected to increase 1% between 2010 and 2030.  At the same time, the population of over 80 Americans will increase 79%.  This means the number of potential caregivers per senior who needs care will drop from over 7 to 1 down to 4 to 1.  Add to that statistic the fact that baby boomers, on average, have fewer children than their parents and higher divorce rates.  Many won’t have that “natural” support system.

Where will the replacement come from?  Some will look to nieces and nephews.  But, being more distant relatives, that is often not a suitable solution.  Some will look to ex-spouses.  We’ve seen a number of clients who, while divorced, still live with their ex-spouses and have an emotional and/or financial attachment similar to a married couple.

But, what if that isn’t the case?  According to the New York Times article, some people are looking to communal or co-housing arrangements.  One woman looked to friends in her apartment building and designated them as her agent under power of attorney and health care representative.  Another man is taking the drastic step of moving from his home in California to a kibbutz in Israel that he has visited for years.  A kibbutz is a collective community in which the group cares for the individuals within it as a Socialist type society.

In some cases, people will look to professionals.  Geriatric care managers and daily money managers can be an excellent solution.  Longtime trusted advisors, such as attorneys and accountants are also an option for others.

One thing, however, is clear.  While it is always best to put a plan in place before a crisis hits, it is even more critical for those who don’t have any “natural”  support system.  No one will know what you want and if you don’t have the mental capacity any longer to say, then the legal system, ie. guardianship process, will determine what happens.  And that is not likely to be what you want.

This article can be found here

The New York Times article can be found 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: health care proxy, HIPAA, durable power of attorney, Beneficiary, assisted living, caregiver, 2014, Single

Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney | The Need for Advanced Medical Directives Made Clear

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Jan 25, 2013

elder law, power of attorney, health care proxyThe following case study is designed to illustrate the importance of having up to date health care and disability documents.  As part of every estate plan, one should have the documents necessary to allow family members to make your health care and financial decisions if you are ever rendered unable to do so.  If you do not have the proper disability documents, you and your family will be forced to spend wait until the court process is complete to get a guardian and conservator appointed.  This can take considerable time and cost your family thousands of dollars.

 

            Mrs. Henry. Case Study

Mrs. Henry came to our office with a major issue.  Her husband, Mr. Henry, had slipped and hit his head very hard one night.  Ever since the fall, Mrs. Henry told us, her husband had been in a persistent vegetative state for nearly 3 months.  Mr. Henry, an engineer in his 60’s, had not executed the proper health care and disability documents prior to his fall and as a result, Mrs. Henry was not allowed to make any decisions or take any actions on behalf of her husband.  Important medical decisions were being left up to a team of doctors who had never met Mr. Henry and had no inkling of what he would have wanted.  Mrs. Henry wanted to be able to make decisions on her husband’s behalf.

After listening to this tragic story, we informed Mrs. Henry that the only thing we could do at this point was file to have her appointed as guardian and conservator for her husband.  The process would involve the preparation of detailed forms and then going to Court to file the documents and plead the case before a judge.  We would also be required to make sure all the forms will completed properly, so that the court would accept them.  The filing would also result in sensitive private information, like medical records and financial information, being made public record through the Court.

The process for getting Mrs. Henry appointed as guardian and conservator took several weeks and several court appearances.  Like most people, Mrs. Henry and her family were unaware of this lengthy legal process, which can be completely avoided by having the right documents.   If Mr. Henry had simply signed the appropriate paperwork, Mrs. Henry would have been able to immediately collaborate with her husband’s doctors on all necessary decisions.  Instead, she was forced to spend unnecessary time and money getting herself appointed as guardian and conservator so that she could get Mr. Henry moved to a facility that offered the appropriate level of care so he could begin his rehabilitation and recovery.

At the estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center proper health care and disability documents are included with every estate plan.  This ensures that our clients leave our office with the peace of mind of knowing that should an unspeakable tragedy occur, like the one that Mr. & Mrs. Henry are enduring, their family will be able to make important decisions without the need to go to Court and without wasting time and money.  We even provide a service through which our clients’ emergency contact information as well as important disability documents are available to them 24/7.  No matter where they are or when something happens, knowing who to contact in an emergency and finding and accessing their crucial documents will not be an issue.  Many hospitals and financial institutions in the refuse to accept health care and disability documents that are more than one year old.  In response, we offer clients membership in our unique Lifetime Protection Program which helps them ensure their documents will be up to date and available when needed.  Members of the Lifetime Protection Program have their entire estate plan reviewed by our team of dedicated, caring professionals to ensure that the entire plan is still working towards accomplishing their goals, even in the face of ever changing laws and personal circumstances.

For more information on the critical importance of having up to date health care and disability documents or on how our team of professionals and our unique education and counseling process can help you and your family, please call our office at (781) 237-2815.

You Could Lose Everything  Unless You Act Now

Tags: power of attorney, health care proxy, HIPAA, Estate Planning, Health Care, durable power of attorney, advanced directives, Elder Law

Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney | Power of Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Tue, Sep 25, 2012

Do you know what legal documents you should probably have in place right now?

A Power of Attorney is one of the most important legal documents a person can have. Without a comprehensive power of attorney, many people are unable to handle their loved ones’ financial matters nor make health care decisions without seeking court intervention.elderly people

We often have clients come into our office assuming that just because their assets are titled jointly with their spouse, parent or partner, that they are able to liquidate accounts to pay bills, hire attorneys, sell their jointly titled real estate, etc. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. In fact, we recently had a client come into our office who had a jointly titled investment account with his wife whom had just entered a nursing home. Without going into great detail, he did not have a power of attorney for his wife and was unable to transfer the assets into his name to do some Medicaid planning. Instead, he has to petition the court to become his wife’s Conservator and spent tens of thousands of dollars on her nursing home care when he could have, had she had a proper power of attorney, transferred the account into his name, alone, purchased an annuity for himself and qualified her for Medicaid immediately.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A power is a legal document where one person (the principle) authorizes another (the agent) to act on their behalf. There are financial powers of attorney which allow your agent to make decisions regarding your property and healthcare powers of attorney which allow your agent to make decisions regarding your health care needs. Your power of attorney can be broad in scope, giving your agent the ability to make any and all financial and personal decisions for you (a General Power of Attorney) or you can limit your agents authority by specifying the types of decisions you would like them to make on your behalf (a Limited Power of Attorney).

You also have a choice whether you would like your agent to have the ability to make decisions both now and if you become incompetent (a Durable Power of Attorney) or your agent can be limited to make decisions only when you become incompetent (a Springing Power of Attorney).

What is a Guardianship?

Guardianship is a legal relationship whereby the Probate Court gives a person (the guardian) the power to make personal decisions for another (the ward). A family member or friend initiates the proceedings by filing a petition in the Circuit Court in the county where the individual resides. A medical examination by a licensed physician is necessary to establish the condition of the individual. A Court of law then determines the individual is unable to meet the essential requirements for his or her health and safety and appoints a guardian to make personal decisions for the individual. Unless limited by the court, the guardian has the same rights, powers and duties over his ward as parents have over their minor children. The guardian is required to report to the court on an annual basis.

What is a Conservatorship?

A Conservatorship is a legal relationship whereby the Probate Court gives a person (the conservator) the power to make financial decisions for another (the protectee). The Court proceedings are very similar to those of a Guardianship except the Court of law determines an individual lacks the capacity to manage his or her financial affairs and appoints a conservator to make financial decisions for the individual. Often the court appoints the same person to act as both the guardian and conservator for the individual. Like the guardian, the conservator is required to report to the court on an annual basis.

The Differences

A power of attorney is a relatively low cost and private way to decide which family member or trusted friend will have the legal authority to carry out your wishes if you can no longer speak or act for yourself.

If you do not have a power of attorney or if your power of attorney is not drafted properly, and something happens that results in your inability to make decisions, your family/friends may later face court proceedings and court supervised Guardianship and/or Conservatorship. A court proceeding is not only costly, but the person appointed as your Guardian/Conservator may not be the person whom you would have chosen yourself. And, as stated above, not having a properly drafted power of attorney could significantly limit financial and/or Medicaid planning that could be done on behalf of the principle.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates, we help people and their families concerned with losing their homes and life savings to increasing medical and nursing home costs, taxes and the costs and time delays of probate. We also protect clients from losing control of their own health and financial decisions.

Gain instant free online access to Seniors’ Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty, which contains information on how Massachusetts Seniors will be impacted by the Affordable Care Act, by clicking here

Click Here to Download the Senior & Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding  Nursing Home Poverty

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops to learn more about our process and what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy. To register for a seat at an upcoming workshop call (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or register online at www.SeniorWorkshop.com.


 

Tags: power of attorney, Estate Planning, asset protection, Medicaid, Health Care, durable power of attorney, guardianship, conservatorship, Massachusetts, transfer of assets

Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney | Are Loneliness and Isolation Health Risks for Seniors?

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Tue, Aug 28, 2012

We found this article intersting and informative. Origianlly from Forbes.com - http://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardkrooks/2012/08/23/social-interaction-study-highlights-loneliness-and-isolation-as-heath-risks-for-elders/ , the article details a study which showed the effect of isolation on Seniors. 

Social Interaction Study Highlights Lonliness & Isolation as Health Risks for Seniors

To reduce the stress of uncertainty, elder law addresses the financial, medical and legal concerns that accompany aging. It’s about ensuring that your preferences are respected, preparing for life’s uncertainties and reducing family stress. A study from the University of California, San Francisco, which examined how social interaction can impact quality of life in the elderly found that a sense of loneliness and isolation can lead to a decline in physical health, and in some cases, even early death.

elder law, elder care, health care, familySome 1,604 participants, all age 60 and older, were contacted by gerontologists every two years between 2002 and 2008. More than 43 percent of respondents reported that they were sometimes lonely. Follow-up research found that members of the self-identified “sometimes lonely” segment were 45 percent more likely to die during the six-year period than those who reported that they were satisfied with the sense of connection in  their relationships, and were 59 percent more at risk for physical decline, measured as performing daily living tasks, including bathing, dressing and eating.

Reducing social isolation for elders is critical to improve their quality of life, though it’s not just an issue for the elderly. A large segment of the US population is facing a known health risk – and the fallout from that risk affects family members, communities, care givers and others.

Health professionals have long known that loneliness and social isolation directly affect older people’s physical and mental health. Even in highly populated urban areas, there are elderly-rich communities where members are living alone and suffering from a lack of social interaction.  Some 30 percent of Americans age 65 and above live alone, but the rate is significantly higher, approximately 53 percent, for older New York residents in public housing.

While many seniors are well-versed when it comes to steps to take to prepare financially for retirement and potential long-term care, there is still a pervasive lack of awareness about how social groups and a sense of community can change as people age.

Other research targeting the social effects of loneliness and isolation have also shown dramatic health risks. A 2008 study from the University of Chicago found that chronic loneliness is a health risk factor comparable to smoking, obesity and lack of exercise, and contributes to a suppressed immune system, high blood pressure and increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. A study out of Cornell in early 2012 concluded that loneliness can increase the risk of heart disease by producing changes in the body which mimic the aging process.

Though more research is needed to clearly define the link that connects social factors and health, more mainstream physicians are beginning to view their elderly patients’ health concerns beyond what can be found in classic lab results.

 

Click Here to Download the Seniors  Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding  Nuring Home Poverty

 

Elder law is about more than money. When viewed properly, elder law is about two major things. First, ensuring that your personal wishes—financial, medical, and legal—are carried out; and second, understanding that elder law is a family matter affecting an intricate web of individual relationships. Knowing that your potential long-term care needs have already been addressed frees you and your family from needless worry.

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates, we help people and their families concerned with losing their homes and life savings to increasing medical and nursing home costs, taxes and the costs and time delays of probate. We also protect clients from losing control of their own health and financial decisions. We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops to learn more about our process and what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy. To register for a seat at an upcoming workshop call (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or register online at www.SeniorWorkshop.com

Tags: Alzheimer's Disease, Elder Law, Nursing Homes, Health Care, durable power of attorney, family, elder care, assisted living, health Care act

Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Lawyer | Difficulty Caring for a Loved One With Alzheimers?

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Aug 24, 2012

I Can No Longer Get Mom In The Shower. How Do I Keep Her Clean?

Fear of taking a shower is common among people with Alzheimer's or dementia.

Alzheimer's, dementia, elder care journeyHere are some suggestions:

  • Make sure the bathroom lighting is adequate. An inability to see will only increase her anxiety.

  • Let the shower run for a few minutes, to warm up the bathroom. No one likes getting into a cold shower.

  • Purchase a shower chair at a medical supply company or a pharmacy, so she can sit when she feels unsteady.

  • Install a hand-held shower head. This is often less threatening than water pouring down from above.

  • Play soft, calming music.

  • Use a soap she used to love, and from which she might recall the fragrance.

  • She wants as much privacy as possible. Let her try and bathe herself, with some sideline coaching.

  • Try having her soak in the bathtub, instead of a shower. This is more relaxing.

  • Consider having a home health agency look over your bathroom, and make suggestions about how it could be better-adapted to your Mom’s need.

  • Consider sponge baths as an occasional option.

  • Consider bathing your mom in bed, using a dry shampoo, which many hospitals are doing.

Try and stick with the bathing routine your mother always had. Morning or night? Shower or bath? She’ll feel more at ease if her routine is similar.

Lastly, consider hiring a bath aide, on your own or through an agency. Your Mom may be embarrassed to be bathed by her daughter, and might respond better to someone outside the family.

When you’re a caregiver to someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, questions never stop popping into you mind. At The Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates, we’ve been helping Massachusetts families along all stages of the Elder Care Journey for more than 2 decades. We help families plan for those difficulties, uncertainties and questions with comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, long-term care planning, asset-protection plans, and assistance with Medicaid or the VA.

We know every step of the Elder Care Journey. And we’re just a phone call away. 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.

Register Now and receive a free Unique Self-Guided 19-Point Trust, Estate, & Asset Protection Legal Guide with accompanying DVD

Nursing home care is more than $140,000-$180,000 per year! Attend this FREE educational seminar to learn:

  • How to protect your home and assets from the costs of long-term care

  • How to stay out of the nursing home and access in-home care

  • How to make sure your spouse is not left financially ruined if you need nursing home care

  • How to access Veterans benefits to pay for long-term care

       To register or call (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or online at www.DSullivan.com

Tags: Alzheimer's Disease, Elder Law, asset protection, durable power of attorney, elder care, assisted living, elder care journey, dementia

Review Your Estate Plans Regularly | Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Aug 13, 2012

There are many reasons why it is crucial to have your estate plan reviewed. A proper estate plan must be modified to account for legal and tax changes, as well as life changes.

"While certain basic principles have held true over the years, new strategies are constantly developed and legislative changes alter the law and how it is applied. Proper estate planning is rarely a one-time event. Besides accounting for legal changes, the plan must be modified to account for life changes — birth, death, divorce, finances and health" -- Bonnie Kraham, Elder Law Attorney

 

estateplan family

"There is a tendency to view elder law estate planning as a static process resulting in a permanent portfolio. Both are misconceptions.

While certain basic principles have held true over the years, new strategies are constantly developed and legislative changes alter the law and how it is applied. Proper estate planning is rarely a one-time event. Besides accounting for legal changes, the plan must be modified to account for life changes — birth, death, divorce, finances and health.

Also, when a plan is created poorly the first time, often by those without direct experience in this area of the law, it is often necessary for those more experienced in elder law estate planning to fix the "broken" plan.

One of the more common errors we see is a purported MAPT, a Medicaid asset protection trust, that does not comply with Medicaid law. Sometimes, such a trust states that the grantors (Mom and/or Dad) are also the trustees, which is not allowed. Other times, the trust gives the grantors access to principal in trust assets. This also is not allowed.

The common fix for a defective MAPT is creating a new one that follows the law: The grantors may not be trustees, and the grantors have a right to income only from trust assets. They have no right to principal. The downside of starting over is that the five-year "look-back" period must lapse before the assets in the trust are protected. However, the current situation must be assessed to determine if the new MAPT makes sense.

Even the best of plans may be obsolete by the time they are needed, sometimes many years later. At a minimum, an estate plan should be reviewed every three years to see if any life or law changes affect it.

Over time, clients may want to change their backup trustees or plan of asset distribution. They may wish to add inheritance trusts to keep assets in the family. They might wish to change from a revocable trust to the MAPT because they were unable or unwilling to obtain adequate long-term care insurance. Assets for married couples may have grown to more than $1 million and the couple may need estate tax protection.

A systematic updating approach allows the client to have a plan better suited to their current needs. Periodic review reduces the chance of broken elder law estate plans.

If you're competent, you can always update your plan by either amending a trust or signing a new will, power of attorney or health care proxy.

If you are not competent but have an elder law power of attorney with broad gifting powers, your agent under the power of attorney may create, amend or revoke a trust, and make other changes in your best interest, including protecting assets from nursing home costs. The goal is to avoid the last resort, which is a court proceeding to fix a broken plan, or worse, having a plan whose purpose is defeated."

Article Reference:
"Protecting Your Future: Revise Estate Plans Regularly to Meet Needs" by Bonnie Kraham
Link: http://www.recordonline.com

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates, we help people and their families concerned with losing their homes and life savings to increasing medical and nursing home costs, taxes and the costs and time delays of probate. We also protect clients from losing control of their own health and financial decisions.

Research shows that 86% of trusts don’t work.  That’s why we developed our Unique Self-Guided 19-Point Trust, Estate, & Asset Protection Legal Guide, so you can learn where problems may exist in your planning as well as opportunities for improvement and how to implement a plan to protect your spouse, home, family, and life savings. 

 

Click Here to Download our Trust, Estate, & Asset Protection  Legal Guide

 

 We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops to learn more about our process and what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy. To register for a seat at an upcoming workshop call (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or register online at www.SeniorWorkshop.com.

 

 

Tags: power of attorney, health care proxy, HIPAA, Estate Planning, probate, Protective Trusts, Nursing Home Costs, Elder Law, Medicaid, Nursing Homes, durable power of attorney, Beneficiary, elder care, seniors, estate, estate tax

Power of Attorney vs. Guardianship | Boston Estate Planning Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Thu, Aug 09, 2012

What is the difference between a power of attorney and guardianship?

A power of attorney is a legal document where one person (the principal) authorizes another person (the agent) to act on his or her behalf, either for health care decisions or for financial decisions.

guardianship, power of attorney

Guardianship is a legal relationship whereby a court gives a person (the guardian) the power to make personal decisions for another (the ward). A family member or friend initiates the proceedings by filing a petition in the circuit court in the county where the individual resides. A medical examination by a licensed physician is necessary to establish the individual’s condition. A court of law then determines whether the individual is unable to meet the essential requirements for his or her health and safety. If so, the court appoints a guardian to make personal decisions for the individual. Unless limited by the court, the guardian has the same rights, powers and duties over his ward as parents have over their minor children. The guardian is required to report to the court annually.

A conservatorship is a legal relationship whereby a court gives a person (the conservator) the power to make financial decisions for another (the protectee). The court proceedings are very similar to those of a guardianship, except the court of law determines whether an individual lacks the capacity to manage his or her financial affairs. If so, the court appoints a conservator to make financial decisions for the individual. Often the court appoints the same person to act as both guardian and conservator for the individual. Like the guardian, the conservator is required to report to the court annually.

Powers of attorney for health care and property/financial decisions are relatively low cost and private way to decide which family member or trusted friend will have the legal authority to carry out your wishes if you can no longer speak or act for yourself. If you do not have power of attorney, or if your powers of attorney are not drafted properly and something happens that results in your inability to make decisions, your loved ones may later face court proceedings and court supervised guardianship and/or conservatorship. A court proceeding is not only costly, but the person appointed as your guardian/conservator may not be the person whom you would have chosen yourself.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates, we help people and their families concerned with losing their homes and life savings to increasing medical and nursing home costs, taxes and the costs and time delays of probate. We also protect clients from losing control of their own health and financial decisions.

We developed our Unique Self-Guided 19-Point Trust, Estate, & Asset Protection Legal Guide, so you can learn where problems may exist in your planning as well as opportunities for improvement and how to implement a plan to protect your spouse, home, family, and life savings.

Click Here to Download our Trust, Estate, & Asset Protection  Legal Guide

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops to learn more about our process and what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy. To register for a seat at an upcoming workshop call (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or register online at www.SeniorWorkshop.com

 

Tags: massachusetts estate planning strategies, Elder Law, durable power of attorney, elder care, executor, advanced directives, guardianship, conservatorship

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