Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Tips for Protecting Your College Student in a New Semester Through Estate Planning

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Feb 01, 2019


Even young people need estate planning


Whether your child is just beginning to receive college acceptance letters or is preparing to leave home for the upcoming semester, your child is planning ahead for his or her future. As a parent, protecting your child does not stop when he or she leaves for college. Your role in their life, however, may have changed. Once your child turns 18, he or she is considered an adult in the eyes of the law. Accordingly, your ability to help him or her with their finances or medical decisions may be limited. We know this can be a challenging and emotional time, which is why we want to share a few ways to use estate planning to protect your child when they are not with you.

The first step, and perhaps the most important one, is to talk to your child about their planning options. As a parent, it is important to express any concerns you may have about their safety and well-being. Try to remember that your child is now an adult and may be hesitant to allow you access to their bank account or medical records. Talking to them about the importance of creating planning documents, however, and sharing examples of scenarios where you would use your decision-making authority may help make this conversation easier.

After you have had this discussion with your child, we encourage you to think about your goals for your child’s protection and the types of planning documents you need. A durable power of attorney is a document that provides you with the authority to make decisions if a legal or financial situation arises while your child is away at college. This can be for simple matters, for example, if there are issues with your child’s lease or if you would like access to your child’s grades. It is important to keep in mind that if you do not have an established durable power of attorney, your child’s bank, college, or rental company is within their rights to refuse sharing your child’s information with you, even as their parent.

Finally, health care documents are a crucial part to any estate plan, particularly when it comes to your college student. If you do not have HIPAA authorization, for example, or a health care power of attorney set up, medical professionals could refuse to allow you access to your child’s medical records. Designating a health care power of attorney before your child leaves for college can help combat this issue from arising.

College is an exciting time for both you and your child. No matter where your child lives, however, accidents and unexpected situations can arise. By planning ahead and creating planning documents for your child’s protection, you can feel confident handling any circumstance that comes up. If you have any questions or are ready to begin planning, do not wait to contact our office or attend a free seminar to learn more.


Tags: living will, Single, New Year's Resolutions, college planning, Estate Planning Recommendations, health, children, doctor, heir, grandchildren, 2019

Did You Know Your Estate Planning New Year's Resolutions Can Protect Your Family?

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Jan 21, 2019

New Years Res. Protects Your FamilyMany of us view the New Year as a fresh start. It is a time to reflect back on the things we wish we had prioritized the previous year and create resolutions to accomplish new goals or hold ourselves to a higher standard for the upcoming year.

 While many people create resolutions focusing on exercising more or eating healthier, have you considered making resolutions that can protect your family? We encourage to think about more than just spending more quality time with your family and, instead, going a step further and putting protections in place in the event you experience an accident or sudden illness.

 Do you need help knowing where to get started? Let us share three ways to create an estate plan that can help protect you and your loved ones this New Year.


  1. Create a plan for your minor children to keep them protected.

 When it comes to your children, you can never be too prepared or plan too far in advance for their future. Preparing for your minor children’s care in the event of your death is a necessary challenge of being a parent. One way to ensure your children are well taken care of after you are gone is to create a comprehensive estate plan that designates a guardian to care for your children. This should be someone you trust implicitly to care for your minor children and help raise and guide them into adulthood. You may also wish to plan to take care of your children financially by creating a trust and placing funds in it for their behalf. 

  1. Create a plan for yourself in the event of an accident.

As important as it is to plan for your children’s protection, it is equally as important to create a plan that protects you as well. A living will, also known as a healthcare directive, is a legal document that outlines your end-of-life medical care wishes. This document helps loved ones and healthcare professionals to make appropriate medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make them yourself because of, for example, you experience a serious illness or are in a bad accident. The provisions within a living will do not take effect until you are legally and medically declared unable to competently make medical decisions for yourself.

  1. Create a plan for your legacy.

Creating an estate plan is more than just compiling a series of documents. It is the embodiment of the legacy you wish to leave behind for your loved ones. Creating and sharing your goals and thought process behind making each decision related to your estate plan is a way to share your legacy with your loved ones while you still have the opportunity to do so.

These are just a few of the ways you can help protect your loved ones this year. Do you have other ideas? Do not hesitate to let us know! Your family’s safety and your legacy are very important to us. We encourage you to attend one of our free estate planning seminars to learn more and qualify for a complimentary meeting with an attorney so we can discuss your estate planning related questions.

Tags: Estate Planning, durable power of attorney, living will, massachusetts estate planning strategies, legal guardians, New Year's Resolutions, Estate Planning Recommendations, 2019

The High Cost of Seniors Living Longer

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Sep 05, 2014


The Cost of Living Longer | Massachusetts Eldercare Attorney


 planning, estate, eldercare


A Pachyderm of Problems

Every day, we see clients for whom long-term care is the elephant in the room. They feel they can’t afford the costs, but they also feel they can’t afford not to have it either. So their solution is to pretend they don’t see the elephant and try to ignore the problem until it goes away on its own. This unfortunately often leads to our metaphorical elephant trampling their life savings and any future inheritance they are trying to leave behind. The older you are, the more expensive a long-term care policy gets and if you get sick before you have long-term care protection in place, it’s too late. Insurance companies are looking out for their bottom line, and an already ill senior will scare them off.

The costs for these policies are rising faster than inflation too. Therein lies the conundrum for Boomers and seniors: They’re living longer than their parents did but that means they need more money to make it through “old age”. Finding long-term care is a tough and complicated process. You’ll need to find a place that cares for people with your (or your loved one’s) circumstances. You need to find a place with the right facilities and staff, a place that leaves you with a good, safe feeling. And you have to be able to afford it too. This is not any sort of one-size-fits-all situation. Everyone has their own specific services and conditions that they or their loved ones will need met. Remember, what we call “long-term care” is a broad category, with options ranging from live-in facilities to your own home.

Lurking Complications With Long Term Care

The greatest threat to the financial security of Boomers and seniors is the cost of long-term care (and Obamacare will not assist with this). Assisted-living facilities are now climbing toward the $7,500-a-month mark. Many have started bundling more services together, rather than charging for each individually. Bundling might be a good idea from the nursing home’s perspective, but just like pre-packaged cable TV you will wind up paying for a lot of services you don’t need and don’t want. A private room at a nursing home will range from $500 - $600 a day.

The cost of home healthcare is rising, too. Some people choose independent-living apartments. These facilities typically don’t require lump-sum payments, and residents can contract with home health-services independently. Medicaid may be there for those who qualify but if you ever want to learn the true meaning of “jumping through hoops” just try qualifying! The best thing, of course, is long-term care insurance, but that’s getting more expensive too as companies raise their rates while cutting back on their coverage. In addition, this insurance is getting more complicated, now encompassing aspects such as protection of the surviving spouse, caregiver issues, scams/ID theft, and making sure you have an advocate to fight for your rights in a system that’s slanted against you.

In short, we’re living longer, and unlike previous generations, people are generally not living with or even near their children. Seniors are going to need more money for this longer life and for any unforeseen medical problems that may arise.

A Magic Trick No One Wants to See

Do you know the fastest way for a Boomer or senior couple to become an impoverished Boomer or senior couple is? Simple, one of them just needs to become ill before they get long-term care insurance. We see it every day, people who’ve worked hard and saved money all their lives are forced to see it wash away in a flood of medical bills as they age. It is truly heart-breaking, because, if you’ve managed to squirrel some money away, you could probably have afforded long-term care. 

The Downside to Living Longer

Our life expectancies are going up these days and so is the cost of healthcare, the distance seniors are living from their children and families, and the financial pressures on Medicare and Medicaid. The new Affordable Care Act, in fact, stipulates $500 billion in Medicare cuts over the next decade! Where do you turn if you or your spouse gets ill? Home health care? Adult day-care? Assisted-living? A nursing facility? Respite-care services, which allow the caregiver to drop off the senior for a limited period? Who’s going to pay for it? And for how long?  These are the questions to ask now, while you still have time to plan. If you haven’t purchased long-term care before you or your spouse become ill…forget about it. No one will insure you once you’re sick! If this happens to you, you’re going to be out of time, out of options, and very quickly out of money. And if you’ve planned to leave something for your heirs, there may be nothing left to leave to them other than a pile of bills. 


It’s an old (but true) cliché: those who fail to plan, are planning to fail. When it comes to healthcare expenses as you age, you fail to plan at the risk of yourself and those you love.  


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: asset protection, long term care, Medicaid, MassHealth, life-care plan, in-home care, in-home care, Estate Planning, Estate Planning, assisted living, seniors, Massacusetts Estate Tax, living will, surviving spouse, marriage, home, in home, incapacity, Estate Planning Tip, Massachusetts, asset, Estate Planning Recommendations, long term care insurance, life insurance, hospice, assets, Inheritance

Can Your Will Protect You When You Don't Die?

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Thu, Aug 07, 2014


What Happens When You Don’t Die?

medicare, medicaid, wills, spouse


Is your “I love you” will capable of protecting you or your spouse from long-term care costs?

You know the kinds of wills we’re talking about: The husband leaves everything to the wife, the wife leaves everything to the husband and after they both die, everything goes to the kids. This works well in situations where the spouses are healthy one day and are deceased the next. 

However, as most of us know, life usually doesn’t work that way very often. Research indicates that nearly 70% of individuals over 65 will require some kind of long-term care in their lifetimes.

Thus, many spouses worry that if they predecease an ill spouse who is currently in a nursing home or will require long-term care at some point in the near future, there will be insufficient funds available to provide for their institutionalized spouses’ needs. This is an especially relevant concern for expenses that are not covered under Medicaid such as: care managers, private nurses, single rooms, as well as certain therapies and drugs.

Another concern is that the availability of funds from “I love you” wills and trusts will disqualify the surviving ill spouse from eligibility for Medicare benefits. As you know from prior articles, Medicare (MassHealth in Massachusetts) is the only long-term-care governmental program in the United States and does not cover long-term custodial care.

To solve this problem many of our clients rely on a “testamentary trust”. This is a trust built into the will of each spouse. For many estate planners, this is counterintuitive because much of the estate planning occurs within the context of a revocable living trust. In order to preserve access to Medicaid eligibility without requiring that the surviving spouse spend down the assets and lose the chance to maintain a “rainy day fund”, creating a testamentary trust in the will of the pre-deceasing spouse is essential.

What this means is that around age 55, you have to completely revise your wills and trusts to accommodate a different paradigm of thought. The thinking process is no longer “What happens when I die?” Now the question becomes “What happens if I don’t die and live a long time with expensive long-term care?”

The new paradigm requires a new estate plan. If you consider yourself middle-class (meaning that your net worth will be significantly impacted by the cost of long-term care for you and/or your spouse) and are over age 55, we suggest that you revise and update your estate plan to reflect your current and future needs as soon as possible.

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: Alzheimer's Disease, asset protection, long term care, Medicaid, in-home care, in-home care, Estate Planning, Estate Planning, Elder Law, Elder Law, Attorney, Attorney, elder care journey, Health Care, living will, myths, surviving spouse, financial, will, income, Medicaid penalties, federal, Wills, in home, incapacity, Alzheimers Disease, alzheimer's activities, Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's, estate reduction, estate, long term care insurance, medicaid qualification, alzheimers, health, hospice, assets

Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney | Plan Ahead for Long Term Care

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Feb 11, 2013

If you were ever a Boy Scout or Girl Scout, you remember the motto: Be Prepared.

That motto still makes sense: be prepared, especially where your health and your finances are concerned.

The following are important issues to discuss with your attorney before a crisis.


I always tell clients that, when considering long-term care needs, they need to consider family dynamics. Are there squabbles or resentments? If so, these will probably intensify in a crisis situation.


Are your legal documents up to date? If so, you're in the minority. In addition to discussing inheritance issues, I always discuss with my clients any changes they may need to make in their will or trust. Family circumstances are always changing - births, deaths, divorces, self-destructive behavior by heirs, second marriages, etc. If your documents aren't appropriate for NOW, they're not appropriate - period!


These documents have to meet legal requirements, and must leave no room for doubt. And if you try the do-it-yourself approach, they may not be recognized as legal.


If you don't do this, you could be subjecting your family to a long and tortuous Guardianship proceeding in court. And if you don't do it right, you may be disqualified from receiving Medicaid or Veterans' benefits.


How do I pay for long-term care insurance? Many people don't even realize they may be entitled to Medicaid or Veterans' benefits, or other resources.


You'll need to know about community resources, housing options, caregiver options, Care Managers, etc.

No doubt you've got questions. We have the answers.

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 education 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 to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your family and legacy. 

 lawyer, attorney, bostonClick Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop



Tags: life-care plan, Estate Planning, Elder Law, HIPAA, Health Care, health care proxy, seniors, family, living will

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 ( provides guidance on beneficiary designation dos and don' 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: Estate Planning, Elder Law, living will, power of attorney, executor, lawyer, legal guardians, testament, Beneficiary

The Realities of Long-Term Care

Posted by Wellesley Estate Planning Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Tue, Apr 24, 2012

Carla called me only after much urging from her friend.  Carla’s husband, David, had lung cancer and it had spread throughout his body.  The end of his battle was nearing and he had been approved for placement on hospice, an approach to medical care where the goal is to enhance the quality of life for patients with terminal illness but who are likely to die within 6 months.  It appeared that David only had weeks to live and a long term nursing home stay wasn’t a likely scenario. So, why was she calling me?  Let’s take a closer look.

 Carla told me the last several years have really taken a toll on her health.  She is 70 but starting to slow down physically.  She said she has put knee replacement surgery on hold.  It was clear that Carla’s focus was completely on David but her friend recognized that she also needs to focus on “life after David”.  That’s why Carla was calling, although I don’t think she realized it entirely.

 I asked her about her finances.  David had a pension of $2500 and Social Security of $1500.  Carla, who didn’t work outside the home during the years she raised their 3 children, only received Social Security of $750 and no pension.  She also told me that David’ pension would stop once he died.  She remembered that he took the maximum pension option when he retired a few years ago but that there would be no survivor option if she outlived him.  I told her that she would lose one Social Security check as well, keeping the larger one.

 I asked Carla about their assets.  She and David owned their home which she estimated to be worth approximately $300,000 with no mortgage.  They also had savings totaling $250,000.  They had no life insurance and no long term care insurance.  I asked about their legal documents.  Carla said she and David had both executed powers of attorney and health care directives several years ago.  Their wills she estimated to be about 20 years old, prepared when her children were of school age.  Their wills left everything to the surviving spouse and then alternatively to the children.

 Long Term CareAs I mentioned, David was now on hospice.  Carla had set up a hospital bed on the first floor and brought David home.  At this point he was bedridden.  A hospice nurse was coming to the home several times a week.  Although very tired, Carla said that David was completely lucid.  She then asked me what exactly I could do to help her.

 It was clear from her question that her focus was on David.  She wasn’t thinking about her own needs but I was.  Although not easy for her to do, I asked Carla to shift her focus for a few minutes.  I asked her about her own health and long term care needs.   She again told me she would address it after David’ passing.

 “Who will care for you”, I asked, “if you need long term care in the future.”  Carla told me her children don’t live nearby and she never really thought about it.  She wants to be cared for at home, just as she is doing for David, but she recognized that it won’t be easy.  I then told Carla that we could help her try to accomplish that but there are steps that we need to take immediately, without delay.  Next week I’ll give you the details.

For more information on how to effectively plan for you and your spouse's trip on the elder care journey visit  There you will find dates and times for upcoming workshops on estate planning, elder law, and veteran's benefits hosted by the team of professionals at The Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates. 

Tags: asset protection, long term care, Medicaid, MassHealth, in-home care, Estate Planning, Lifetime Protection Program, Elder Law, assisted living, elder care journey, durable power of attorney, Health Care, health care proxy, elder care, family, living will

Special Legal Documents for The Alzheimer's Patient

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Jul 19, 2011

Planning ahead is important for everyone to ensure our wishes are met in the event of death or incapacity.  For families coping with Alzheimer's disease and other kinds of dementia planning is even more important because of the uncertainty of your loved one's capacity prognosis.

Power of Attorney.  A general, durable power of attorney is a legal document which lists the person or persons authorized to make decisions on behalf of another when that other person has reduced mental capacity.  The extent of the power given to the authorized person/s is up to the individual on whose behalf the document is being created.  An appropriately designed and executed power of attorney provides great peace of mind to the individual in question as well as to his/her family.  With this tool in place, there will always be someone to pay bills, withdraw funds, process any income, etc. on your loved one's behalf, according to their plan.

In some cases, people choose to establish separate powers of attorney - one for finance and another for health care. The two or more people would have authority to make decisions in different areas, financial and health care.

The person/s with the power of attorney for health care, for example, would make choices regarding treatment changes, continuation of life support, etc. The person with this power of attorney also has access to the medical records of the person with Alzheimer's. The person with power of attorney for finances usually has access to the person's bank accounts and ensures that his/her bills, including medical bills are paid.

In situations where the power of attorney is not provided ahead of time, the person who will have power of attorney must go to court to establish guardianship, which can be a lengthy and costly process for the family.

Who Decides Whether You're "Competent"?

There are various competency tests like the Hopkins Competency Assessment Test.  However, in many cases, this decision is made within families, when a loved one agrees or asserts that their ability to think clearly and make good decisions is impaired.  This revisits the need to begin to talk about this kind of planning early in the Alzheimer's diagnosis.  Once dementia-like symptoms become more severe, it becomes more difficult to broach topics like competency with your loved one.

What is an Advanced Directive?

An advanced directive, or living will, states your health care/disability instructions. Advanced directives can provide the following information:

  • The individual's wishes regarding life support and other life-lengthening measures;
  • The role of the power of attorney for health care;
  • The individual's wishes regarding his or her death.


A will is a legal document that lists your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and the care of any minor children after your death.  

Both a will and a living trust can transfer assets, but each has unique uses. For example, a living trust can hold assets for your benefit while you are alive, as in the event you lose mental capacity.  A will only goes into effect after death, while a revocable living trust goes into effect as soon as it is signed. 

A will only governs the disposition of property owned in the deceased's sole name, while a revocable living trust only handles the distribution of property that has been transferred into it. 

A will does nothing to plan for mental disability, while a disability plan can be written right into a revocable living trust. Property passing under the terms of a will goes through probate, while property passing under the terms of a revocable living trust avoids probate.

If you are concerned about people knowing your net worth or your beneficiaries, you might decide to transfer your assets through a trust, which, unlike a will, is not a public document. If a person wanted to leave assets to a domestic partner, for example, might use a revocable trust, because it is harder for family members to challenge a trust than a will.

A living trust is also useful if you own real estate in a state that is not your primary residence. Real estate is governed by the probate rules of the state in which it is situated. Unless the property is in a living trust, a Massachusetts resident, for example, who owns a home in Florida would need to probate the property separately there.

For more information about estate planning and the different documents at your disposal, watch our Estate & Retirement Planning videos.  To learn firsthand about these documents and other issues surrounding an Alzheimer's diagnosis call our office at 781-237-2815 or register online to attend one of our Trust, Estate and Asset Protection workshops.  For more information about dealing with all the various intricacies of Alzheimer's, please also visit us online to read the valuable information in our Alzheimer's Resources Kit.

Tags: Alzheimer's Disease, durable power of attorney, health care proxy, living will, trusts, will

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

How To Make Sure Your Final Wishes Are Carried Out

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Mar 11, 2011

Retaining control and dignity as the end of life approaches is an often overlooked aspect of comprehensive estate planning. Regardless the size or value of your “estate,” proper planning should address these difficult issues.

US News & World Report ran an article last week, How to Ensure Your Last Wishes Are Carried Out. As they outline, there are two primary ways to ensure your final wishes are followed: one is through legal documents, and the second is by communicating your wishes to those who may be involved in carrying them out should you become incapacitated.

As regards legal documents, you’ll need a power of attorney for healthcare, also known as a healthcare proxy. Your health care power of attorney allows you designate the person you want to be your health care decision-maker in the event you cannot make decisions for yourself.

You also may want to consider a Living Will. A Living Will is the document that helps guide the health care decisions made on your behalf. This is the document that allows you to spell out what types of medical care you would, or would not, want to receive in various situations.

The most important piece of advice? Make these decisions now, while you are able. Record them in valid legal documents, and communicate your wishes to those who may be carrying them out.

You can read more about Powers of Attorney and Health Care Documents (or Advance Directives) in the Estate Planning Strategies page on our website.

  For more information on crafting a legal plan to maintain control over your assets and life decisions, attend a free Estate Planning and Asset Protection Workshop.

Tags: Estate Planning, Estate Planning, Elder Law, health care proxy, living will, massachusetts estate planning strategies, trusts, will, Metro West Estate Plan

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