Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Lifetime Protection for You and Your Family - By Jane Lebak

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, May 28, 2020

“My ninety-year-old great aunt is one of your lifetime protection program clients, but her nursing home won’t let me talk to her!” And with that call, Dennis Sullivan of Dennis Sullivan and Associates was on the case. Within an hour, he’d leveraged his Power of Attorney, established that the nursing home was not properly treating his client’s illness, and called in an eldercare advocate for a third-party assessment.

That’s not a service anyone expects when they place their first phone call to ask about trust and estate planning, but it saved this woman’s life.

For more than twenty-six years, Dennis Sullivan and Associates has specialized in estate planning and elder law, but their services go well beyond. Sullivan says, “Helping people protect their spouse, home, legacy, family, and life savings is our team’s mission.”

Dennis Sullivan is an attorney, a CPA with a Master’s in tax law and holds a Management degree from MIT. He’s written or contributed to seven books, and in addition, he’s a cancer survivor. This combination gives him a unique perspective on the importance of our health and the legacies we leave behind, well beyond our financial legacy.

Attorney Greta Atchinson a partner at the firm, and Dennis Sullivan’s protégé, explains, “Estate planning is more than just writing a will or trust. The best estate planning begins with providing for our elder years.” This means understanding age’s impact on housing, health, mobility, and finances. She adds, “We want to empower our clients. Elder law attorneys, Medicaid planners, and senior advisors work with you when you’re facing an asset protection crisis, like entering a nursing home. We prefer to help people through proper advanced planning so that protection and savings grow naturally over time.”

Ruthann O’Sullivan, Office Manager and paralegal, says, “People assume trusts are just for extremely wealthy individuals. In reality, they’re for families that want peace of mind by being prepared.” By addressing future issues before there is a crisis, you proactively protect those you love. “You don’t want to worry about nursing home costs for the first time when faced with health challenges. A solid plan allows you to focus on what matters.”

A call to Dennis Sullivan and Associates jumpstarts a three-step process. First is a free Discovery Workshop (currently provided virtually) that covers proper estate and asset protection. The client identifies their goals so they can evaluate where they are in relation to where they would like to be.

The second step is a personalized meeting with an attorney to review existing documents or write an entirely new plan.

“Eighty-six percent of trusts fail,” says Attorney Sullivan. “We know not all trusts are created equal, and our team has developed a unique ‘Nineteen Point Checkup’ to review trusts and estate plans with a fine-toothed comb.”

In the third step, the documents are signed, and then the client becomes a member of the Lifetime and Legacy Protection Program. Sullivan established this program to ensure clients and their families remain protected even as laws change and family circumstances evolve. When the new Secure Act was passed, for example, the firm let all members know it would accelerate taxes on IRAs, Retirements and Estate Plans, then hosted a workshop on the impact this would have. The firm also provides personal annual reviews as part of their membership.
Attorney Atchinson says “We put our clients in the driver’s seat. We educate and assist families in identifying their most critical tax, estate, and asset protection objectives as well as their core values.” When people speak for themselves through meticulous estate planning, they can eliminate family conflict and pass on their values to their family.

Beyond the peace of mind that comes with protecting family assets, many clients have found comfort during the corona virus pandemic by securing their healthcare directives. Atchinson says, “Now more than ever, it’s vital to establish all the necessary documents surrounding your healthcare.”

Dennis Sullivan and Associates can help you draw up your healthcare proxy, power of attorney, and advanced directives, something everyone over age eighteen should have in place. Clients receive a wallet-sized emergency access card (see photo) with information about who to contact in the event of an emergency. “I can’t tell you how hard it is when parents cannot get information about their adult children in emergencies,” says Sullivan. “It’s vital not to wait.”
As with Dennis Sullivan’s ninety-year-old client, rock-solid pre-planning can save the day. His team knows they have achieved success when families feel their loved ones are well-protected.

To access the next Discovery Workshop or to establish your healthcare directives, contact Dennis Sullivan and Associates at (781) 237-2815 or visit DSullivan.com.

Tags: Financial Planning, Elder Law Attorney, Estate Planning Attorney, Heath Care Documents

Planning to or receiving Social Security or VA Benefits? Get this done now!

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Apr 27, 2020

 

documents with elderly parents

Many of you are receiving or will be receiving Social Security or VA benefits. We find that most of the people we help with estate planning and life care planning do not have a Durable Power of Attorney. Let us explain why this is the MOST IMPORTANT to complete now and how it relates to these SSA and Veteran’s Benefits as well.

Your Durable Power of Attorney will allow someone of your choosing to make decisions for you if necessary. There are often a number of critical decisions to be made if and when you are not able to speak for yourself including health, financial and personal. During this pandemic, when family members are not being allowed into hospitals along side their loved ones, it is more important than ever to be prepared. Even if your spouse of child is in touch with doctors and nurses, you need to empower them with this document.

However, there are a few times when even this document will not suffice; Social Security Administration and Veteran’s Affairs. Even if you designate an agent under a power of attorney, a trustee under a trust, or a guardian of your estate, they do not have legal authority to manage federal benefits checks.

Both of these offices require their own designation: Social Security Administration requires a Representative Payee and Veteran Affairs requires a VA Fiduciary.

These designations allow you to choose one or more people to make decisions, move accounts and get answers on your behalf. This is done by contacting the agency directly and make an advance designation. This law was passed in 2018, yet many of our clients come to meet with us not knowing this important information.

This can be done via the SSA website, or by phone (800-772-1213) or in person at a local office. Of course, during this pandemic, SSA offices are closed. To update your VA Fiduciary, contact your local VA Affairs office by clicking here..

Attend an upcoming Discovery Workshop!

(given online during Covid-19 pandemic)

Learn about our Unique Process to help you and your family enhance the security of your lifestyle, legacy and life savings

Next Live Online Workshop: 

Thursday April 30 @ 10am and 2pm

To register CLICK HERE or call 781-237-2815.

 

Tags: durable power of attorney, social security, VA benefits, living trusts, Elder Law Attorney, Estate Planning Attorney, covid-19, Heath Care Documents

How Can the CARES Act Can Help You and Your Family?

Posted by The Estate Planning & Asset Protection Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Apr 16, 2020

CARES ACT

As you know, the U.S. Congress recently passed the President signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This law, which provides wide-ranging financial and regulatory relief related to the ongoing Covid-19 public health crisis, represents a response of unprecedented scope and scale. Below we have given a summary of highlights that may be relevant to you and your family. We hope this helps clarify how you can receive assistance during this pandemic.

  1. Direct payments to individuals and families – Individuals receive up to $1200 and married couples receive $2400 if you file a joint income tax return. Families with children receive an additional $500 for each qualifying child.  You qualify for the full payment if your adjusted gross income as shown on your 2019 tax return (or 2018 return if you haven’t filed 2019 yet) is $75,000 or less ($150,000 if married filing jointly).  You can qualify for a smaller amount if your AGI exceeds $75,000 but you get nothing when you reach $99,000 annually and $198,000 if married filing jointly.
  2. Deferring mortgage payments and renter protection – If you have a federally backed mortgage you can write to your lender to ask for a 6 month deferment on making your payments (you may also request an additional 6 month extension as you approach your first 6 month deadline).  There are no penalties allowed by your lender when deferring this loan. It is simply added to the end of your mortgage term. The Act also provides for a 120 day moratorium for eviction proceedings if you are a tenant in a federally subsidized housing unit or a dwelling covered by a federally backed mortgage loan.
  3. For Americans age 59 ½ and younger who have directly been affected by the coronavirus and are experiencing financial hardship, the CARES Act waives the 10-percent penalty for withdrawing funds from IRAs and defined benefit contribution plans, like 401(k) plans. Taxes must still be paid on these withdrawals, however, they may be paid evenly over the next three years. Contact your plan provider to verify that your plan has been updated to allow these revisions before you withdraw to prevent future headaches.
  4. You can also now borrow up to $100,000 from a 401k if you take the loan no later than 9/22/20 but there are tax ramifications if you then are unable to pay the loan back before you leave your employer or lose your job.
  5. The need to take required minimum distributions (RMD) is waived for 2020.  This may be helpful to retirees who don’t need the money which is just accumulating in a non-retirement account.  However, for those needing the money to pay bills, this will not be helpful since you are still required to pay taxes on the withdrawals.
  6. Payments on federal student loans have been suspended through 9/30/2020.  This is helpful for parents and grandparents who are making payments on student loans for a child or grandchild. The Department of Education automatically will enact the temporary suspension on federal student loans that are owned directly by the Federal Government for the six-month reprieve so there is no need to shut off any automatic debits. Be wary of scams that ask for payments to start the suspension. Borrowers who are able to continue making payments on the principal during the six-month pause will whittle down the balance that much faster. Those wishing to continue any automatic debit they have set up or who have any questions about how this affects their loans should contact their servicer.

Please take care to be extra cautious about fishy scams that prey on seniors with investment schemes. Listen to trusted financial advisers and check with loved ones if it sounds too good to be true. As always we are here to help you and your family plan for the future and get through this difficult time in our country.

 

To Register for our upcoming Webinar: Click HERE or Call 1-800-964-4295

Did you know 86% of life, health & estate plans fail? Are you protected?

Online Workshops:       April 16 @ 10am & 2pm

                                        April 18 @ 9:30am

                                        April 30 @ 10am & 2pm

 

Tags: living trusts, Elder Law Attorney, Estate Planning Attorney, CARES Act, Stimulus, Mortgage deferment

Due to the Pandemic, Should I Move My Parent/Grandparent?

Posted by The Estate Planning & Asset Protection Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Apr 07, 2020

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In this difficult time, with the risk to the older population on everyone’s mind, we have been receiving many calls asking us what the best way to protect their loved ones. Should people consider moving their family members to a facility or perhaps move them from a facility into their own home. The answer to this question varies of course as each family’s situations vary. As we approach what medical experts predict will be the apex in the number of new cases, we wanted to go over some items to consider as you contemplate what works best for your family.

If you are considering moving your loved one into your home. The most important detail to consider is whether or not the entire family is able to stay socially distanced. If, however, a family member is part of an “essential business” and continues to be out in public, interacting with others, this could increase the risk of becoming infected. This point is especially a risk if the family member is working in the medical field and therefore coming into contact with infected patients daily. It is also a higher risk if the worker is among the public, working in a supermarket for example. Another question to consider when deciding to move a loved one into your home would be whether or not you have an appropriate area in your home where you could isolate an infected family member if the need arises. This can be challenging when, for example, shared spaces are necessary such as a bathroom that must be sanitized continuously throughout the day.

Another question that comes up is whether or not to move your loved one from one facility to another if you find out their current facility has a known case of Covid-19 on site. This may not be wise, as the virus continues to spread rapidly and puts each facility at risk, so circumstances might change. It is also a difficult time to get thorough information about a potential new facility given that most are currently unwilling to allow outsiders in, which precludes you from touring and meeting with staff and assessing the care your loved one would receive.

What about the type of care your loved one needs? If moving home, would you need to hire an outside aid to assist in their care? This would require yet another person from the outside coming into your home regularly. These outside health aids are another group of front-line workers who are coming into contact with people from various households during their workday. This not only is an added risk to your loved one, but a risk to the entire family as well. Also, keep in mind that the original facility may have policies and concerns about allowing your loved one back into their location once they have been exposed to others, and it may be a complicated process to receive permission to allow your loved on back in.

Financial concerns are also a consideration. If you have the funds to pay for care that’s beneficial. However, if not, the complicated process of applying for Medicaid and awaiting that decision could be impacted if you decide to move your loved one even temporarily. It’s possible your loved one could lose their spot, and these issues would need to be discussed directly with the facility.

We understand these are very difficult times, and very important decisions. As always, our team is here to talk with you and guide you through this. Please reach out, we are here to help protect you and your family.

  • The Estate Planning & Asset Protection Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates

 

To Register for our upcoming Webinar: Click HERE or Call 1-800-964-4295

Did you know 86% of life, health & estate plans fail? Are you protected?

Online Workshops:       April 16 @ 10am & 2pm

                                        April 18 @ 9:30am

 

Tags: power of attorney, lawyer, revocable living trust, applying for medicare, healthcare proxy, living trusts, Estate Planning Attorney, covid-19

C19 UPDATE: EMERGENCY CHECKUP FOR YOUR LIFE, HEALTH AND ESTATE PLAN

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Mar 31, 2020

P42.Sullivan.DecBlog1

19 Point Checkup for Emergency Steps to consider and implement now:

Though it may be hard not to panic when the grocery store shelves are empty, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 keeps rising, and we see sobering statistics across the globe … we will not overcome this challenge with a panicked response.

Nonetheless, there are certain things we all need to be doing right now – and your public health officials are the best resource on how to stay personally safe and help prevent the virus from spreading.

When it comes to the seriousness of this outbreak, however, there also are some critical estate planning decisions you should make – or review – right now.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who will make medical decisions for me should I become severely ill and unable to make these decisions myself?
  2. Who will make my financial decisions in that same situation — for example, who will be authorized to sign my income tax return, write checks or pay my bills online?
  3. Who is authorized to take care of my minor children in the event of my severe illness? What decisions are they authorized to make? How will they absorb the financial burden?
  4. If the unthinkable happens – what arrangements have I made for the care of my minor children, any family members with special needs, my pets or other vulnerable loved ones?
  5. How will my business continue if I were to become seriously ill and unable to work, even remotely … or in the event of my death?
  6. How can I protect my home, spouse and life savings if I needed a nursing home? 

These are the most personal decisions to make right now to protect yourself and your loved ones during this emergency. Now is also a good time to ask yourself if you have plans in place for the smooth transfer of your assets and preservation of your legacy.

We are here for clients as well as friends, family, neighbors and the community in which we live and serve to help you discover where problems exist now as well as your opportunities for improvement. With our unique counseling you will understand the ramifications of your choices, so you are confident to sign your critical life, disability, estate, elder law and asset protection plans with the mandatory legal documents.

ALL OF OUR clients receive a wallet card for 24/7 emergency health care access for who to call in and emergency as well as the electronic 24/7 access to the required legal documents for EMTs and emergency health workers to speak with them on you’re and your family’s behalf. This applies to any one 18 years of age and older. We are currently providing BOTH remote education and counseling discovery sessions conferences for your convenience. Schedule a call now and let us help you make the right choices for yourself and your loved ones.

We are ready to help walk you through these decisions, understand the ramifications of your choices, and memorialize your plans in binding legal documents. We are currently providing BOTH remote discovery education and counseling sessions for your convenience. Schedule your unique 19-point discovery and personal counseling session now.

It is our goal to provide our clients with the highest level of legal services in the areas of Last Will and Testaments, Living Trusts, Protective Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Estate Planning, Probate, Asset Protection, and complete Business Planning. If you or someone you know needs information on Massachusetts Estate, Elder Law and Asset Protection Planning, please register today for your personalized discovery and review counseling  sessions at 800-964-4295 or on line at DSullivan.com. Now is the time   to gain control and peace of mind with your unique 19 Point Trust Estate and Asset Protection Review Discovery Counseling and Protection Process. You will even be eligible for our Lifetime Protection Program, developed and improved over 14 years of service for Massachusetts and Metro West families helping them protect their home, spouse, family, legacy and life savings for generations.

Tags: Estate Planning, Elder Law, Elder Law Attorney, Estate Planning Attorney, covid-19

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