Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Slowing the Aging Process If You're A Senior|Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Wed, Feb 26, 2014

 Slowing down the aging process

You can’t stop your body from aging.

But you can slow the process down. One way to do it is by eating a nutritious variety of foods that stimulate both physical and mental well-being, and that supply you with weapons to make the good fight against Father Time.

Here are some tips…

 

 

  • Salt’s a killer. Eating less will help prevent water retention and high blood pressure. Look for the “low sodium” label. And season your food with garlic, herbs, and spices instead.
  • You can enjoy some “good” fats. Olive oil, avocados, salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, and other monounsaturated fats help prevent heart disease.
  • FIBER! As you get older, it becomes more important. It helps you avoid constipation, and lowers your chances of chronic illness. Among other foods, it’s found in raw fruits and vegetables, whole-grains, and legumes.
  • Avoid “bad” carbs such as white flour, refined sugar, and white rice, which are stripped of their bran, fiber, and nutrients. Bad carbs cause spikes in blood sugar, while complex carbs such as whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables help stabilize it.
  • Food companies do their best to camouflage sugar in their products. They’ll call it corn syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, cane juice, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, or maltose. But it’s still sugar!  
  • Steam or sauté your vegetables in olive oil. (Boiling drains nutrients.)
  • Put five colors on your plate. Fruits and vegetables rich in color are generally rich in nutrients, too.

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

Click below to download your free copy of 7 Strategies to Protect Yourself Against Obamacare, Higher Taxes, Increasing Nursing Home Costs, and Other Government Changes.

estate planning, asset protection, Obamacare 

 Click here

 

 

Tags: massachusetts estate planning strategies, Estate Planning, Elder Law, family, Massachusetts, care, lawyer, Attorney, health, family, 2014, Dennis Sullivan, Healthy Eating, balanced diet

Massachusetts Estate Planning Lawyer | 2012 Gifts to Lower Your Estate Tax?

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Nov 26, 2012

Do you have extra assests that you will not need during your lifetime? If so, consider gifting this year because if Congress doesn’t act in the lame-duck session, on Jan. 1, the current $5.12 million per-person exclusion from the federal estate and gift tax will automatically dip to $1 million. Also the tax on transfers above that amount will rise from 35% to up to 55%.

If you have real estate, investments or other assets, in excess of what you and your spouse need to support your lifestyle, you may be a ble to lock in an extra $4 million dollar lifetime exclusion by gifting this year. We recently reviewed an article by by Deborah Jacobs that discusses the timely topic , Will The Estate Tax Boomerang As We Go Over The Fiscal Cliff? which can be accessed here at    Forbes.com.

 

Tax2013 forbes estate planning

Now that the election is over, many folks are wondering what will happen with the federal estate tax. This is one of the Bush era tax cuts set to expire at the end of this year, contributing to the fiscal cliff that we are hearing so much about lately.

From an estate planning perspective, lifetime gifts have always had an advantage over passing assets when you die. Such gifts leave less in your estate for the government to tax, and if the assets increase in value after you have passed them along, you will not owe gift tax on the appreciation. So for the super rich, a drastic drop in the tax-free amount is a huge loss.

Most of us will never come close to using this exemption, however. One reason is that without incurring gift tax or eating into the lifetime exemption, you can give up to $13,000 each year to as many recipients as you like. Couples can combine this annual exclusion to jointly give $26,000. For example, this year a married couple with a child who is married and has two children could make a joint cash gift of $26,000 to the adult child, the child’s spouse and each grandchild – four people – providing the family with $104,000 a year. Starting in 2013, the annual exclusion for gifts goes up to $14,000 ($28,000 per couple).

Feeling flush? Write two checks: one before Dec. 31 for $13,000, and the other on Jan. 1 for $14,000. Just make sure your year-end check is cashed before Dec. 31, or it won’t count for 2012. “To alleviate this problem, wise donors make year-end gifts (usually, anything after Thanksgiving) by way of certified or cashier’s checks,” says Gerry W. Beyer, a professor at Texas Tech University School of Law.

President Obama’s proposed budget for 2013, issued last February, gives us a clear idea of what he would like to do. And it’s not a pretty picture for rich folks or the wealth management industry. The Green Book, as it is called, downloads here as a pdf. For an analysis of its new targets as well as old ones, see my post, “Obama Budget Takes Aim At Rich Folks And Wealth Advisors.”

So should you rush to give away everything to your kids? Not if you might need those assets yourself. But if you and your spouse are worth more than $5 to $10 million together, you might want to check in with your tax advisors–unless, of course, they’ve already called you.

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: Estate Planning, estate tax, Massachusetts estate tax, assets, tax, lawyer

Massachusetts Alzheimer's Lawyer | How Can I Keep My Father Entertained During the Day?

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Tue, Oct 23, 2012

f you're a caregiver to someone with Alzheimer's or dementia, you're often expected to be master of ceremonies, ringmaster, and juggler all at the same time. alzheimer, alzheimer's, lawyer, caregiver

In fact, it's a pretty common occurrence for the senior to follow the caregiver around all day...almost as if they're expecting you to provide diversion. But you don't have to be the only source of diversion.

Here are some ideas to keep him entertained...
 
  • Play a fast-paced musical video.
  • Encourage him to walk - either outside or around the house - as much as possible.
  • He can pull some weeds outside, or bat around a balloon ball. Each would provide diversion, as well as physical activity. In addition, many companies that make products for seniors will have exercise videos with simple instructions.
  • Encourage him to be helpful with any type of household activity he can handle. It's important to keep him involved. For example, let him set the table while you prepare meals. It doesn't matter if he doesn't set it properly. It only matters that he helps!
  • He may be able to clip coupons, shred documents, do minor clean-up jobs, get things from the kitchen or the laundry room for you, etc.
  • Allow him to open the junk mail.
  • Encourage him to help out with the care and feeding of the dog.
  • You have friends? You have family? Let someone else help keep your Dad occupied for a while!
  • Many Alzheimer's patients enjoy being read to. (Your local library has book audiotapes.)

To gain free online access to the Complete Alzheimer's Resource Kit, which contains care tips as well as other useful information on Alzheimer’s disease, please visit www.BostonMemoryLawyer.com

describe the image

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.

describe the image

Click Here to Attend a Free, Education Workshop

Tags: seniors, dementia, caregiver, caretakeer, lawyer, Alzheimer's, senior

Massachusetts Estate Planning Lawyer | 5 Estate-Planning Tasks That You Shouldn't Put Off

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Tue, Oct 16, 2012

Over time, your family will face a number of changes. From when you purchase your first home and your children are born to the time they leave for college and you plan for retirement and beyond, new issues and concerns arise. With proper planning your family will be prepared for life’s changes and challenges.

Please take the time to read this great article by Christine Benz called "5 Estate-Planning Tasks That You Shouldn't Put Off" which addresses estate planning to-dos that should not be placed on the back burner.

5 Estate-Planning Tasks That You Shouldn't Put Off

Here are the key estate-planning to-dos:

Task 1: Update Your Beneficiary Designations
Even if you've never set foot in an attorney's office, you've laid the groundwork for an estate plan if you've filled out beneficiary designation forms for your financial accounts. Those designations, in fact, trump other estate-planning documents when it comes to distributing your assets, so it's worthwhile to periodically review them to make sure they're up-to-date with your current situation--if you've gotten married or divorced, or example. (How would your spouse feel if you inadvertently left your 401(k) account to your brother?) And if you have drafted estate-planning documents such as a will, your attorney should be able to help you review your beneficiary designations to ensure that they sync up with those documents. This article (http://news.morningstar.com/articlenet/article.aspx?id=309885) provides guidance on beneficiary designation dos and don'ts.estate planning, estate-planning, lawyer, Massachusetts

Task 2: Designate Legal Guardians
Here's another step that's important regardless of asset level: Parents of young children should designate legal guardians who will look after their children if the parents should die or otherwise be unable to care for their minor children. Spouses often put off this step because they disagree about guardianship, but it helps if you can focus the discussion on actual child-rearing abilities and willingness to do the job. Don't get hung up on hurting anyone's feelings or bypassing friends or family members who might expect to be your guardians but aren't the best choice. (Naming someone a guardian because you're a guardian for their children isn't a good reason.) Most important, your guardian should be willing and able to take care of your children if the need arises, so an essential step is to discuss the responsibilities with the potential guardian and make sure he or she is on board. You also want your children's guardian to share you and your spouse's values and views on parenting; financial wherewithal should be a consideration, as well. It's also worth noting that it's possible to name two guardians--one to take care of your child's needs on a day-to-day basis and another to supervise the child's financial assets. But that's usually not practical for obvious reasons.

Task 3: Create a Living Will and Last Will and Testament
A living will is another document that's important no matter what your asset level is; it tells your health-care providers and your loved ones how you would like to be cared for if you should become terminally ill and unable to express your wishes yourself. Called a "medical directive" in some states, this document details your views toward life-support equipment. Not to be confused with a living will, a last will and testament details how you'd like your assets and possessions distributed after your death.

Task 4: Draft Powers of Attorney
Estate planning doesn't just relate to death and dying: A basic estate plan should also address what would happen to your affairs if you are still living but incapacitated. A power of attorney is a document that specifies who will handle your affairs if you are unable to do so. You'll need to draft two separate documents: one that names your power of attorney for health-care decisions and another for financial matters (often called a durable power of attorney). The person you entrust with your power of attorney for health care will, ideally, live in close geographic proximity to you and will also understand your general wishes about your own health care. The person who you name on your durable power of attorney form should be detail-oriented and comfortable with financial matters, and he or she should also have a general understanding about your attitudes toward and goals for your money.

Task 5: Name an Executor
Your executor will gather all of your assets after you're gone and make sure they are distributed in accordance with your will. Ideally, your executor will be someone who's comfortable with numbers and good with details, and will also be able to find the time to work on your estate. It's common to name family members as executors, but in more complicated situations it might be preferable to use a professional, such as a bank trust officer, to serve as your executor. It's a good idea to tell your executor that you've named him or her, and also provide details on how to obtain access to important documents, such as your will and a master directory detailing all of your accounts.

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.

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


 

 

Tags: power of attorney, living will, Estate Planning, Beneficiary, executor, Elder Law, lawyer, legal guardians, testament

Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney | 10 Detrimental Estate Planning Myths

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Wed, Oct 10, 2012

There are a variety of misconceptions associated with estate planning, which unfortunately often lead to detrimental mistakes. Please take the time to read “10 Common Estate Planning Myths That Can Be Detrimental to Your Family”, in which Erik Carter of Forbes.com discusses estate planning myths that often keep people from initiating an estate plan that could protect their home, spouse, life savings and legacy.

10 Common Estate Planning Myths That Can Be Detrimental to Your Family

estate plan, estate planning, Massachusetts

1) Estate planning is just for the wealthy. This myth comes from the focus of so many attorneys and financial advisers on the estate tax, which may not be an issue this year until your estate surpasses $5,120,000, an amount that most of us would characterize as pretty well-off, if not downright rich. This focus makes sense for estate planning professionals since they make so much more money dealing with that issue, but estate planning is about so much more than that. It’s also about making sure that your finances are taken care of if you’re incapacitated, that decisions about your health care are carried out the way you’d like even if you’re not able to make them, and that your children and other heirs are taken care of when that time eventually comes. That’s why estate planning isn’t just for the Donald Trumps of the world. Estate planning is for anyone who may become seriously ill or pass away. In other words, it’s for everyone.

2) I’m too young for estate planning. We never know when we might need estate planning and by then, it will be too late. For example, history is replete with the stories of celebrities who unfortunately died before creating a will, many of them at a relatively young age.

3) If I pass away without a will, the state will get my assets. If the last two myths can lead so many to inaction, it always amazes me that this myth hasn’t led to a boom in the will-making business. If you pass away without a will, each state will apply its “laws of intestacy” to determine who will get what. You can check out a site called mystatewill.com to see what that outcome may look like. If you don’t like it, get a will drafted. If you’re fine with it and have minor children, get a will anyway. That’s because the will also allows you to determine who would be the guardian of your children if that need should arise, which is probably not a decision you want a court to make.

4) If I have a will, I don’t have to worry about probate. This may be wishful thinking as probate can be a long and expensive process in which one or more courts decide who will inherit your assets. While a will provides the court with guidance on your wishes, it doesn’t actually avoid the process altogether. Since a will is public information, it can be easily contested in court, adding more time and cost. In addition, if you have real estate in more than one state, each property may have to go through probate in its respective state.

5) I need a lawyer to draft these documents. If your family and financial situation is relatively simple, you can draft many of these documents yourself at no or low cost. For health care decisions, you can get a health care directive from your hospital or download a state-specific form from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization here at no cost. Another resource for health care decisions is the Five Wishes, which is a popular, low-cost living will form made available from the non-profit Aging with Dignity organization. You can draft other legal documents like a power of attorney and a simple will for free at sites like DoYourOwnWill.com or for a relatively low cost at sites like LegalZoom and Nolo. Your employer may also offer these documents at no or low cost as an employee benefit.

6) I don’t need a lawyer at all. While these documents may cover most common situations, there may be a complicating issue warranting legal advice that you’re not even aware of. That’s why it’s still a good idea to at least run these documents by a qualified estate planning attorney, which may cost you less than having the attorney draft them all from scratch. You can search for an attorney by asking for referrals from family, friends, and other professionals, by using the lawyer referral service of your local bar association, or by searching the membership of organizations like the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys.  Finally, don’t forget to ask your employer about any discounted legal services they may offer.

7) To avoid probate, you have to draft a trust. One area that you’re most likely to need an attorney is drafting a trust. Avoiding probate is one of the most common reasons people do this, but there may be cheaper and easier methods that may be sufficient for your needs. First, jointly owned property (like what you own with your spouse) generally passes to the other owner(s) without going through probate (unless it’s a “tenancy in common”). Second, life insurance, annuities, and anything in a retirement plan like a 401(k) and IRA avoids probate as long as there is at least one living beneficiary listed. Some states also allow you to avoid probate by adding beneficiaries to bank accounts with a “payable on death” registration and to brokerage accounts, real estate, and even vehicles with “transfer on death” registrations. You can see what’s available in your state here. Finally, each state has methods to speed up or even skip probate for “small estates,” which in some states can be quite large.

8) Trusts avoid estate tax.  Most trusts do not help you avoid estate taxes in and of themselves. However, if you’re worried about having a taxable estate, be sure to seek qualified legal advice (your nephew who just graduated from law school with a focus on criminal law doesn’t count) since certain trusts can be used as part of a strategy to reduce and even eliminate estate tax liability.

9) I don’t have enough money to worry about the estate tax. This may be true today, but if nothing changes, estates over $1 million are scheduled to be subject to a 55% estate tax starting next year. When you add in the value of your home, life insurance proceeds, and your retirement accounts, that $1 million may start looking a little too close for comfort.

10) I’ll have to pay a gift tax if I give someone over $13k per year. Anything (except for money paid directly to a medical or educational institution, charity, or to a 529 plan) over $13k that you give someone (other than your spouse) in a single year simply reduces your lifetime gift and estate tax exclusion amount (currently the $5,120,000 that’s falling to $1 million next year). Only after you use up the entire exclusion amount do you actually have to start paying anything. In other words, you’d have to give away quite a bit. That being said, you would still have to file a gift tax return and then keep track of how much you’ve reduced your lifetime exclusion amount by, so try to stay within the $13k annual exclusion amount just to avoid that hassle.

As you can see, there are lots of misconceptions out there about estate planning and understandably so as it can be complex, constantly changing, and removed from our everyday lives. Knowing the truth about these myths can help you avoid numerous mistakes."

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 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: Estate Planning, probate, trusts, gift tax, estate tax, Massachusetts, lawyer, myths

Sign-Up Below To Receive Your Free Report

Follow Me

Browse by Tag



Follow DennisBSullivan on Twitter