Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

What ‘Legacy’ Means in 2020

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Feb 25, 2020


What ‘Legacy’ Means in 2020


The concept of legacy can take on a lot of different meanings.

On one level, it can be seen as a purely financial concern. The assets and capital you have worked so hard to accumulate and save over a lifetime. For much of the 20th century, that’s how legacy was defined in this country. It was the funds you were able to pass down to your children and grandchildren.

But that definition is changing, in part as the American definition of retirement is changing as well.

Think about this: At the turn of the 20th century, the average life expectancy at birth was about 47 years. Today, it has nearly doubled. That means the average American retirement is now over 20 years. Great news for all of us, to be sure, but longer lives present us with more challenges and transitions in during our lifetimes than those who came before us. Because of this, we need to plan and prepare a life plan for a successful life and legacy. This is why we developed our Lifetime and Legacy Protection Program.

A modest retirement account was, not too long ago, enough to support a retiree who might need to live 5-10 years on that savings. But what happens when we need resources to live for 15, 20, even 30 years or more? That’s a new kind of life planning and saving challenge.

This becomes especially challenging when you understand financially or economically, depending on your perspective, that all this is happening at the same time that retirement funding is moving from employer pensions and other defined-benefit plans to a system based instead on Individual Retirement Accounts, 401(k)s and other forms of personal savings, as well as spiraling medical and long-term care costs. We also know that the state, federal and local laws continue to change, along with personal and family changes at an ever increasing pace. Most people do not even realize that the new SECURE Act accelerates taxes on inherited IRA and retirement plans.

Not to mentioning the increasing size of student loans due to the funding required for advanced educations as well as the national, state and local  debt service costs being passed on to our children and grandchildren. Perhaps it’s the RIGHT TIME NOW to take stock of your American Values to pass on to the future generations who very much will need to embrace the values that got you and your family and friends to where they are today. It has been said that life, nature, stock markets experience cycles. As we all look ahead, we should ask what can we do for our family our communities, country and world in which we and our children and generations to follow will live in the years, decades and centuries to come?

There are many challenges that affect your financial, legal and personal life and legacy. Your legacy responsibilities are expanding to include a number of new considerations that may well have been ignored as recently as a generation ago, as explained in our new collaborative   resource, “Your American Legacy.” This new resource will be available in March for members of our Legacy and Lifetime Protection Program. We will be also hosting a member only event ”Unpacking  your Core Values and Creating your Legacy What it can Mean for you, your life, estate and legacy plan and your Family for Generations” at 10 AM and 2 PM on March 19th at the Estate Planning and Asset  Protection  Center in Wellesley, located  next door to the new Boston Sports Institute.

The important chapters include – probate planning, saving on taxes and establish the base of the pyramid revealed, both legally and financially – combines everything that our clients and other soon-to-be retirees need to know, making it an invaluable resource for helping people protect their home, spouse, family, communities and life savings. The Estate Planning Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates is proud to provide, “Your American Legacy”. In addition, you will discover the core values important to you and ensure they are reflected in your life, estate and legacy plan.  This is an important resource to help discover and prevent problems which result in 86% of all trust and estate plans being out of date!

You don’t need to be an entrepreneur or an attorney or CPA to have something important to pass on. The modern definition of legacy, as defined in, “Your American Legacy”, includes:

Personal Values:We help people to focus on and prioritize their core personal values, in their legacy plans. Your personal legacy includes how you’ve lived your life and the lessons that you would like to pass on to family, friends, and those you care about.  Whether it be on the financial side, an investment, education, thrift or getting along with family, we can help you accomplish your goals and highlight your values.  

Professional Legacy: We don’t spend 30-40 plus years in the “Professional” workforce just to let all of that experience and learning disappear when we die. For many, there is significant value in passing down your values and approach to work, life, education, and the dedication to hard work and sacrifice to those just coming up. For example, the real workforce starts for some at age 5 or 6 helping grandparents and others in the neighborhood. You may wish to obtain a copy of The Millionaire Next Door by Dr. Thomas Stanley for yourself and or people you care about.

Community Impact: Every one of us is part of something bigger than ourselves. It may just be our family, but it can also be our neighborhood, our town, our city, our country and more. The point is, we all have community. Our place in our communities is part of our legacy as well.

Truth is, there is far more opportunity and responsibility to legacy today than just dollars and cents. And that is why we do what we do. Our team provides a unique education and counseling approach including helpful resources to help people to protect and pass on their entire legacy as well for the future of their lifetime, their families, and generations to come, not just the financial and tax consideration of “legacy”.

We hope this is helpful. If you or others need help and guidance that is what our team at the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates is here for.

In order to discover more about protecting your home, spouse, family, lifesavings and legacy for your lifetime and beyond, please call 800-964-4295 to learn more how you can apply these lessons to your own lifetime and legacy plan. We look forward to helping you and your family and thank you for your trust and consideration.

Tags: legacy, 2020

Avoiding Massachusetts Estate Taxes, NOT Just for the Rich

Posted by Wellesley Estate Planning Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Aug 19, 2011

When you pass away, who do you want as the primary beneficary of your estate, your loved ones or the government?

Estate Tax Facts

Many people, as you may guess, do not want their life savings and legacy to be swallowed by estate taxes.  What most people are not aware of however, is the fact that if they passed away today their heirs would be forced to pay state and federal estate taxes, even if the deceased is far from what most would consider "wealthy".  They also do not realize that an experienced estate planning attorney can help them AVOID taxes ENTIRELY.  

Massacusetts Estate Tax

Massachusetts taxes every dollar in an estate above the $2 million threshold, recently increased from $1 million.  What Estate Tax this means is in an estate worth $2.5 million dollars, $500,000 will be subject to a Massachusetts estate tax.  Many are concerned with budget cuts and sweeping reform that state legislators will consider dropping the tax exempt amount, thus subjecting more estate to a tax.  within the last 10 years, the federal estate tax exemption, which now stands at $5 million, has been as low as $675,000.  

If your current estate exceeds the state and federal tax exempt amount, without proper planning you can expect to lose 50 cents of every dollar to the government. 

You may be reading this, thinking that your estate is not in jeopardy of being destroyed by taxes because you are well under the exemption amount.  You may think your estate is well under, but there are several catagories of non-obvious wealth you need to include in your estate valuation.  The most common of these are life insurance death benefits and retirement accounts such as 401(k)'s and IRA's.

An Example on the Impact of Estate Taxes

Person A is married, has 2 college age children and belives his estate to be worth $700,000.  Person A failed to take into consideration his IRAs and life insurance policies.  Believing their net worth to be well below the $2 million Person A and his wife executed simple wills with no consideration paid to tax planning. 

Tragedy stirkes and Person A dies.  After his death his wife collects a $2 million life insurance benefit and his $500,000 IRA.  In another tragic turn, Person A's wife dies shortly after him.  Their estate, which they believed to be under the Massachusetts exempt amount, is now worth $3.2 million, leaving $1.2 million subject to estate tax, even if the state and federal thresholds are not lowered.

Avoid Massachusetts Estate Tax

Luckily, many people like Person A and his family can completely avoid paying any estate taxes.  To take steps to protect your life savings from the reach of state and federal estate taxes, register online to attend a free educational workshop hosted by Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq, CPA, LLM or by calling 800-964-4295 (24 hours a day).  You can also check out Free Elder Law Guides developed by the team of professional at Dennis Sullivan & Associates.  By planning now you can save you and your family the stress of having to worry about the future. 

Tags: Estate Planning, Estate Planning, Baby Boomers, 2011, elder care, budget cuts, Debt Ceiling, estate tax, Massacusetts Estate Tax, taxes, trusts, tax liability, Massachusetts estate tax, tax exemption, will, Tax Savings, legacy, tax deductions, tax reform, estate reduction, estate

What the Debt Ceiling Means for Massachusetts Seniors and Massachusetts Medicaid

Posted by Wellesley Estate Planning Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Thu, Aug 11, 2011

Since the signing of the Budget Control Act of 2011, the Act which includes the increase in the national debt ceiling, senior advocates have been working to determine its effect on programs including Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.

Brief Background

Congress has voted to raise the debt ceiling 10 times since 2001.  The ceiling was raised in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and twice in 2008.  Why all the debate this time around?  One side was insisting on reducing spending by cutting federal assitance to programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security to decrease the defecit, while the other was insiting on an increase in revenue (read taxes) while maintaining those programs.  Many questions remain on whether funding for senior programs will continue or in what amounts.describe the image

The Act's Impact on the Future

There are still many questions left unasnwered regarding what impact the Budget Control Act will have moving forward.  The Act consists of three steps:


The national debt ceiling is going to be raised $400 billion initially.  The President also has the option to institute an additional increase of $500 billion moving forward.  Congress is slated to reduce spending by $917 billion over the next 10 years.  In 2012, $21 billion is to be cut from federal spending.  Many people do not seem overly concerned with the scheduled reduction for 2012 because budget reduction occurs frequently and legislation is often amended.


A Joint Select Committee on Defecit Reduction is to be put together of 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans.  The Committee must come up with debt reduction legislation on or before November 23 of this year.  Their goal is to cut $1.5 trillion dollars of debt over the next 10 years, with a required reduction of at least $1.2 trillion.  Any proposal the Committee creates will be voted on by Congress before the end of 2011, and many speculate will include cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security spending.


If no plan is put in place to reduce at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years, whether Committe member do not agree or Congress refuses to pass their proposal, there would be sweeping federal spending reduction.  The reducution would equal the full amount, up to $1.2 trillion, that can not be agreed upon by the Reduction Committe and Congress.  Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security as well as veterans's benefits are all protected from large spending reduction if the process reaches this stage. 

What Can You Do Today ?

No on knows how these reduction will effect senior programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.  One thing is clear, the future is alot less certain.  To take steps to protect your spouse, home and life savings today register online to attend a free educational workshop hosted by Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq, CPA, LLM or by calling 800-964-4295 (24 hours a day).  You can also check out Free Elder Law Guides developed by the team of professional at Dennis Sullivan & Associates.  By planning now you can save you and your family the stress of having to worry about the future. 

Tags: Medicare, Medicaid, Retirement, Estate Planning, Health Care, Debt Ceiling, social security, veterans benefits, tax liability, legacy

Don't Leave Your Legacy To Chance

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Wed, May 18, 2011

If you are a Baby Boomer who has worked hard, accumulated significant assets, support charitable causes, and plan to continue working through “retirement,” you are not alone! And you won’t be particularly surprised by the findings of a recently released survey by US Trust: Insights on Wealth and Worth. The survey was conducted earlier this year, with 457 high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals, with $3 million or more in investable assets. The survey found a distinct generational mindset among the wealthy – many of whom are Baby Boomers, self-made, first generation wealthy who achieved financial success on their own.

You are probably familiar with some of these insights found by the survey:

  • Nearly half of these wealthy individuals plan to continue working into “retirement,” many starting a second career or new business.
  • Many also want to be able to travel – possibly “going mobile” with their business, perhaps even into retirement?
  • Many wealthy Americans want to give back to their communities and support charitable causes, and they may need professional legal advice to fulfill those ideals.
  • Few have the type of comprehensive estate planning in place that matches the complexity of their estate, their finances and their estate planning goals.

That last insight, about few people having the type of comprehensive estate planning they really need, may come as a surprise. I see this in my practice every day. Just because you have a simple will in place or believe the federal estate tax will not affect you, does not mean you have adequately met your estate planning needs. Some common “gaps” that turned up in the US Trust survey include:

  • No living will or health care directive
  • No durable financial power of attorney
  • No revocable living trust
  • Inadequate planning for life insurance
  • No charitable planning, despite charitable intent
  • No written plan for the distribution of personal property
  • No business succession plan.

If you saw yourself in the first paragraphs of this post, you likely saw yourself again in the last few. If you don’t take action, then you are leaving your legacy to chance.  

To learn more about protecting your legacy, attend a free, educational Trust, Estate & Asset Protection Workshop. Register online or call 800-964-4295.

Tags: Retirement, Estate Planning, Baby Boomers, durable power of attorney, living will, trusts, power of attorney, will, legacy, Business Succession Planning, Charitable Giving

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