Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

A Married Couple's Asset Protection Journey

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Aug 30, 2018



At Dennis Sullivan & Associates we were fortunate enough to be able to help a married couple, both teachers, plan for their retirement and estate planning. After being referred to us by an independent financial adviser toward the end of their careers we advised that they may want to attend one of our Free Discovery Workshops on Estate, Trusts, and Asset Protection Planning.

After being impressed with what they learned at the Workshop they scheduled their complimentary meeting to have us review their existing wills, trusts, disability, and healthcare documents. They made it clear that they had long term care insurance that would cover only $100 per day for two years (At the time cost of care at a nursing home was roughly $400 per day). Therefore, they would have had to pay $300 per day had a situation arose in the near term. $300 x 365 = $109,500 annually for two years, a total of $219,000. After the first two years of coverage lapsed, they would be responsible for the entirety of the cost of care payments. If nursing home costs did not rise, at $400 they would be looking at a nursing home bill of $146,000 annually. For comparison, the rates today are in the neighborhood of $18,000 per month and are steadily rising.

Because of the high cost of in home care and a desire to maintain control of their assets and healthcare decisions they had us create for them an updated Revocable Living Trust as well as a new protective trust for their home and long term savings. Having a solid asset protection plan allowed them to decide to avoid paying over $15,000 every year to expand their long term care coverage from $100 to $250 a day, which was short of the $400 a day, cost at the time. They were pleased that this estate plan would protect their home, spouse, and life savings!

Over a decade later they remain clients and members of The Lifetime Protection Program as we help them strategically plan how their trusts and other life and death documents should function to preserve their capital.

As members of the Lifetime Protection Program, this retired couple enjoy many benefits. First, we helped them implement the proper healthcare documents for their children and grandchildren, over the age of 18, to ensure that in the case of an emergency; medical professionals would be able to disclose information to family members. This is a little known secret that you do not want to find out the hard way. [Please see our upcoming workshop schedule to discover more]

With healthcare documents in place, we were able to focus our attention on asset preservation and protection. As with most people that we help they were interested in ways to provide for the surviving spouse and ultimately, maximize the inheritances of their family members. Putting the deed to their home into their protective trust ensured that when their children inherited the property they would receive the step-up in basis as well as protecting the home against nursing home costs down the road. This alone will save their children from paying any long term capital gains if they sell the home at market value. Various gifting strategies, educational savings plans including a 529 account, were additional steps taken to reduce their overall estate tax levied by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. An important step taken was to update their Durable Power of Attorney forms to provide maximum security in the event that either one of them lost capacity during their lifetime, and there were assets that were NOT included in their trusts. To discover more about trusts, life and death planning, as well our unique process and services visit and sign-up for a free discovery session. You and your family will be glad you did for generations to come. This planning could save you and your family countless nightmares, heartache, and a significant amount of money. Click here to attend an upcoming workshop today or call 1-800-964-4295 to register.

Tags: surviving spouse, charitable, donations, transferring, trust, irrevocable trust, Wills, Inheritance, step up basis, care costs, grandchildren

Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney | Is It Medicaid Spend Down?

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

If I owe someone money but it’s still in my account do I really still own it?  Would the answer be different if that “someone” is the IRS?

Dorothy called me concerning her dad.  “He’s in a nursing home and has spent down his assets,” she said.  “I applied for Medicaid but hit a snag.  Dad has a whole life insurance policy with $25,000 cash value and the Medicaid caseworker says we have to cash it in.”Medicaid, estate planning, spend down, attornet

I explained to Dorothy that cash value counts as an asset.  While she is thinking he has no money, he actually has $25,000.  I suggested that Dorothy take the money and place it in an irrevocable burial trust to pay for Dad’s funeral.  She said she had already set that up with other money.

I started to reply but then Dorothy interrupted.  “Why do we have to cash the policy in?  It’s not worth anything because my accountant told me that Dad will owe taxes on the money when he takes it out which will eat up almost the entire amount.

That didn’t sound right to me.  She couldn’t tell me exactly what the tax bill would be but said her accountant estimated it.  Even if we knew the amount with certainty, however, it still wouldn’t matter.  That’s because you can’t simply tell Medicaid the money is owed to someone, even if that someone is the IRS.  You actually must pay it.  Until that $25,000 is spent down – leaves your account – it isn’t considered spent down.

Dorothy had been arguing this point for six months.  Medicaid wasn’t conceding the point and so the application dragged on.  I told her that Dad’s application is in danger of being denied and if that happens she won’t be able to get her original application date back.  That could mean not only spending down the $25,000 but also owing the nursing home for months that she had expected Medicaid to cover, to the tune of $12,000 per month.

What I said hit home.  She was clearly drained by the whole Medicaid process which was now in its 7th month.  She wanted so badly for it to be over but at the same time didn’t believe that what I was saying “is fair”.  I agreed with her but it doesn’t really matter.  “If the money is owed to someone then pay it and move on,” I said.  Dorothy grudgingly agreed.

For more information about Medicaid, you can gain free online access to the “Seniors’ Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty” which also contains secret benefits revealed by the Affordable Care Act.

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

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

Tags: Medicaid, Estate Planning, Attorney, taxes, irrevocable trust, spend down, Massachusetts, assets

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