Reminder: Tax-exempts have filing requirement coming soon

Tax-exempt organizations are required to file annual reports with the IRS. Those with gross receipts below $50,000 can file an E-postcard rather than a longer version of Form 990.

The deadline for nonprofit filings is the 15th day of the fifth month after their year-end. For calendar-year organizations, the filing deadline for 2013 reports is May 15, 2014. Contact us if you need details or filing assistance.

How to ease financial stress after a spouse’s death

The death of a spouse can be a devastating experience, both emotionally and financially. As the survivor, you’ll have to make important decisions while you’re in what could be the most vulnerable and distracted stage of your life. The suggestions that follow might at least help ease your financial stress.

  • Don’t make major decisions right away. Put off selling your house, moving in with your grown children, giving everything away, liquidating your investments, or buying new financial products.
  • Get professional help. You’ll need an attorney to help interpret and explain the will and/or applicable law and implement the estate settlement; your accountant to provide financial advice and prepare the necessary tax documents; one or more insurance brokers to help with filing and collecting death benefits; and a funeral director, who in addition to the obvious services, can obtain needed copies of the death certificate. [Read more…]

Do you need to make estimated tax payments?

Many taxpayers have income on which there is no withholding, such as interest, dividends, rental or royalty income, or business income. If this is your situation, you’ll want to see if you’re required to make estimated tax payments in 2014 in order to avoid the penalty for underpayment of your taxes.

The tax system is “pay as you go” by law. If you have income on which no taxes are withheld, it is up to you to prepay the proper amount of taxes. Generally, if you expect to owe at least $1,000 in federal taxes and your withholding and tax credits are less than 90% of your 2014 tax liability (or less than 100% of your 2013 tax liability), estimated tax payments are required. You are essentially required to “estimate” your income and taxes, and make the appropriate payments. Additionally, your estimated tax payments must be computed to also pay for any self-employment (i.e. FICA) taxes on your net business and/or partnership income that you might also owe. [Read more…]

Real estate briefs

Home buyers with bad credit get help from the FHA

The Federal Housing Administration is making it easier for people who have experienced a bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale to once again qualify for a mortgage.

A new FHA program will help people who have such a blotch on their credit history, but who have recovered financially and repaired their credit. These people must now wait only one year to get an FHA-backed loan, rather than the three years they had to wait previously.

To qualify, borrowers must show that (1) the bankruptcy or foreclosure was caused by losing their job or by some other loss of income that was out of their control, (2) their incomes have recovered, and (3) they have gone through a mortgage counseling program. [Read more…]

Some ‘home improvement’ projects actually lower a home’s value

A number of home improvement projects can actually lower the value of a home by turning off potential buyers, according to an interesting recent article published by Yahoo! Finance.

The following projects might make you happy if you’re staying in your home for a while, but they can be a bad idea if you’re planning to sell soon, according to the article:

• Converting a bedroom. Most buyers would much rather see a four-bedroom house than a three-bedroom house with a home gym. And if you do convert a bedroom, make it easy to turn it back into a bedroom – and never remove a closet. [Read more…]

One-third of first-time homebuyers get help from their parents

About a third of all first-time homebuyers get help from their parents or other relatives in coming up with a down payment.

In 2010, some 27% of first-time homebuyers received a gift of money, and another 9% received a family loan, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors.

If you’re thinking of using money from relatives to buy a new house – or giving or lending money to relatives – there are a few things you should be aware of.

One is that, while lenders are usually okay with a gift being used as part of a down payment, most still want the buyers to use some of their own money as well. Many banks require that 5% or 10% of the purchase price come from resources other than a gift, just to make sure the buyers have a handle on managing their own finances. (This rule might not apply, though, if a loan is backed by the Federal Housing Administration.) [Read more…]

Take out a bigger mortgage, and pay less interest?

In a weird and unprecedented twist, “jumbo” mortgages – typically those above $417,000 – have carried a lower interest rate than standard mortgages in some recent cases.

A very large number of standard mortgages are purchased or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Those government-sponsored enterprises won’t touch a mortgage above a certain amount, which is $417,000 in most areas (but can go up to $625,000 in some high-priced markets). Any loan above that is considered a “jumbo” mortgage.

Typically, jumbo mortgages carry a higher interest rate. That’s because the lender can’t get Fannie or Freddie to buy or to guarantee the loan, so if anything goes wrong, the lender is completely on the hook. [Read more…]

Appraisal problems are causing home sales to fall through

The housing market has picked up steam lately, but one of the side effects of the sudden improvement is that home appraisals often take longer than they used to, and often come in with a much lower value than what everyone expected. This is causing a number of house sales to collapse.

Appraisals are taking longer because there’s suddenly more demand for them, at the same time that far fewer people are working as appraisers than during the boom years.

This is understandable, but the problem with a slow appraisal is that it can sometimes cause a purchaser to lose an interest-rate lock, which can be a big problem at a time when interest rates are rising. [Read more…]

Does my 94 year old father need a living trust or do I need him to have one ?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

My father is involved in a case in probate over his decreased wife’s estate. It could be worth about 100k. If he passes away would there be a problem in continuing the lawsuit if he doesn’t have a living trust? I have POA and am executor of his estate but wouldn’t there be a period when I couldn’t do anything

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS-BELIVEAU:

Only a personal representative/executor can continue a lawsuit after a person’s death.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice. Circular 230 Disclaimer: Any information in this answer may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate planning attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Danvers, Massachusetts; Waltham, Massachusetts; Quincy, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire and Salem, New Hampshire.

What does the Trust Protector do?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Trustee will not give me the name of the Trust Protector and the purpose of this role. I was told “it doesn’t matter.” Is this something I need to know as a beneficiary?

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS-BELIVEAU:

A Trust Protector is a person who oversees the trustee’s administration of the trust. A Trust Protector may or may not be appointed when the trust is executed. An appointment of a Trust Protector could be triggered by some sort of event in the future, such as breaking a stalemate between co-trustees. A Trust Protector could have the authority to remove and replace a trustee or reform a trust.
Usually, it is assumed that the beneficiaries of the trust will enforce the trust in respect to their share.

The duties of the Trust Protector should be spelled out in the trust instrument. You should read the trust in order to gain an understanding of a trustee’s duties and a trust protector’s duties. You may also wish to consult an attorney who can translate legalese for you.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice. Circular 230 Disclaimer: Any information in this answer may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate planning attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Danvers, Massachusetts; Waltham, Massachusetts; Quincy, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire and Salem, New Hampshire.

My sister has gotten my mother to give her fiduciary power, even though before her dementia her Will gave it to my cousin.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

How do I prove undo influence? I have an unsigned Will only. My sister refuses to speak, nor share documents or Drs. info. Not even between lawyers. I have proof my sister took $10,000 in 3 months; I doubt my mother needed anything. She put lots of money in her own name; and moved it back when I put pressure on. As my sister is Power of Attorney, how do I stop her from syphoning this money? In 2003, my sister inherited a house from an old lady she befriended over years. She became fiduciary. The family went to court. They lost and my clever sister who works in Boston as a Senior Care manager in a large agency kept the house. What is necessary to go to Probate to petition my cousin be instated as my mother wanted? Can I get advance inheritance if my mother agrees? Ethos determined no abuse.

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS-BELIVEAU:

A Will cannot appoint a power of attorney. It can only appoint an executor for her probate estate.
In order to remove your sister as power of attorney, you will need to file for guardianship/conservatorship. You will be at a disadvantage. Your sister currently has your mother’s assets available to her to pay your mother’s legal fees to fight the court proceedings. You will have to pay the attorney out of your own pocket. If you are successful, you may be able to be reimbursed for your legal fees. I suggest you hire a probate litigator.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice. Circular 230 Disclaimer: Any information in this answer may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate planning attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Danvers, Massachusetts; Waltham, Massachusetts; Quincy, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire and Salem, New Hampshire.

I have a will but want to provide for my nieces and nephews, do I need to establish separate trusts for each of them?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

All of my nieces and nephews are under the age of 18. I want to be sure that they are the direct beneficiaries. I also want to prevent my drug addicted brother from getting any of the funds.

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS-BELIVEAU:

You should establish a trust and fund it during your lifetime. Upon your death, the assets will be held or distributed as you have directed in the trust. The trust can break down into separate shares for your nieces and nephews.
You do not want to direct that your nieces and nephews receiving anything directly under your Will if they are under 18 and your brother is a drug addict. Probate is expensive and time consuming. You brother, being a family member will have notice of your death and the ability to read you Will at the Probate Court. If your nieces and nephews are to receive assets under the age of 18, the court will require a guardian be appointed for them, adding to the cost. You brother could apply to be the guardian and then gain access to the funds.
If you establish a trust, after your death, your successor Trustee can instantly being serving as Trustee. Your brother would have no access to the funds and the trust will remain private.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice. Circular 230 Disclaimer: Any information in this answer may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate planning attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Danvers, Massachusetts; Waltham, Massachusetts; Quincy, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire and Salem, New Hampshire.

If there is a family trust, does the land in the trust have to be redeeded when 1 member dies?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

There is a family trust that holds land (it’s only asset) and 1 of the members died leaving his share to his child. Does the land need to be re-deeded to include the child who is an adult?

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS-BELIVEAU:

The trust owns the real estate. If a Trustee dies, that death is addressed on the deed transferring the real estate out of the trust, whether by a sale to a third party or a distribution to a beneficiary. If a beneficiary of the trust died, the the trust document itself would address what to do with the beneficiary’s share of the inheritance.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice. Circular 230 Disclaimer: Any information in this answer may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate planning attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Danvers, Massachusetts; Waltham, Massachusetts; Quincy, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire and Salem, New Hampshire.

Can you write your will on your computer?

Javier Castro was in the hospital and wanted to write a will. Because there was no paper handy, he used a Samsung Galaxy tablet computer and signed the will using the tablet’s stylus. His brothers also signed as witnesses. After Javier’s death, his family printed out the will and submitted it to probate in Ohio.

A judge accepted the will, finding that it met the requirements of Ohio law, which are that a will be in writing, signed by the testator, and witnessed. (If the will hadn’t been approved, Javier’s estate would have passed to his parents under state law, and not to the people and organizations he designated in the will.)

Although the judge approved the will, he noted that the legislature needs to update the law to address electronic wills. [Read more…]

How life insurance affects your Medicaid eligibility

In order to qualify for Medicaid in most states, you can’t have more than $2,000 in “countable” assets. When calculating their total assets, many people overlook life insurance, which can count as an asset depending on the type of insurance and the value of the policy.

Life insurance policies are usually either “term” or “whole life.” Term policies don’t count as an asset – and won’t affect Medicaid eligibility – because they don’t have an accumulated cash value. On the other hand, whole-life policies usually have a cash value that the owner can access, so they may be counted as an asset.

Medicaid generally exempts “small” whole-life policies – those with a death benefit of $1,500 or less. But if a policy’s face value is more than $1,500, then the policy’s cash surrender value becomes a countable asset.

Example: A whole-life policy has a death benefit of $1,750 and a cash surrender value of $700. Because the death benefit is more than $1,500, the $700 surrender value counts toward the $2,000 asset limit. [Read more…]

IRS increases long-term care insurance deductions for 2014

The amount you can deduct on your taxes as a result of buying long-term care insurance has been increased by the IRS for 2014.

If you itemize your deductions, you can generally claim a deduction if your premiums, together with your other unreimbursed medical expenses, amount to more than 10% of your adjusted gross income (or 7.5% if you’re 65 or older).

The maximum amount of the premiums you can deduct each year depends on your age at the end of the year:

 

Age Maximum deduction
40 or younger $370
41-50 $700
51-60 $1,400
61-70

70 or older

$3,720

$4,660

   

[Read more…]

Here’s a new idea for buying long-term care insurance

Many middle-income people have too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but can’t afford a pricey long-term care insurance policy. In an effort to encourage more people to buy long-term care insurance, Congress created something called the “Qualified State Long-Term Care Partnership” program. In states that offer the program, you can buy special long-term care policies that allow you to protect your assets and still qualify for Medicaid when the long-term care policy runs out.

Here’s how it works: You buy a long-term care policy that is sold by a private company but that has been approved by the state under the program. The policy will cover at least some of your long-term care needs. If the policy runs out and you need to go on Medicaid, you can keep more of your assets than the $2,000 that Medicaid normally allows.

In most states, it’s a dollar-for-dollar benefit – for every dollar of coverage that the long-term care policy provides, you can keep a dollar in assets that normally would have to be spent down to qualify for Medicaid. [Read more…]

Surviving spouses may get help with reverse mortgages

A federal court has thrown a life preserver to some surviving spouses who are facing foreclosure due to an “underwater” reverse mortgage.

In a traditional mortgage, you borrow money against your house and pay it back in monthly installments over time. With a reverse mortgage, you borrow money against your house, but you don’t have to pay it back until you die, sell the house, or move – which means you don’t owe anything as long as you stay in your home. In most cases, to qualify you must be at least 62 years old.

Sometimes, only one spouse has his or her name on a reverse mortgage. This might be because the other spouse was under age 62 when the mortgage was taken out, for example. In the past, some lenders have encouraged couples to put only the older spouse’s name on the mortgage because the couple could borrow more money that way. [Read more…]

How divorce and remarriage affect Social Security benefits

Many people are aware that seniors are entitled to collect Social Security benefits that are calculated based on their spouse’s work record. What’s less well-known is that this benefit applies in many cases to divorced spouses. In fact, ex-spouses may even be entitled to survivors benefits in certain circumstances.

As a spouse, you have the option of (1) claiming a Social Security retirement benefit based on your own earnings record, or (2) collecting a spousal benefit equal to one-half of your spouse’s Social Security benefit. You are automatically entitled to whichever benefit is higher, and you can collect on your spouse’s record even if you never worked yourself.

A divorced spouse can collect benefits based on an ex-spouse’s work record, whether or not the ex-spouse has remarried and whether or not the ex-spouse’s new spouse is also collecting on the same work record. [Read more…]

If person holding power of attorney adds name to parent’s bank account and parent goes to nursing home, is person liable to pay?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Parent is hospitalized in one state and unable to function clearly. Person with power of attorney lives in another state. Person with power of attorney has not set up bill pay with bank because parent previously was able to write checks. Person is considering placing his name (or a sibling’s) name on bank account in order to gain access to pay bills. If parent needs to go to nursing home, will the nursing home go after the funds in the parent’s account AND the person whose name is on the joint account? Parent previously turned over home deed to siblings (12 years ago), so home shouldn’t be considered part of parent’s assets (I think).

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS:

For the purposes of Medicaid, a joint bank account will be considered 100% the applicant’s unless the other joint owner can prove that he contributed funds to the account. The applicant would have to spend the money in the joint account. All the funds of the joint account would be available to pay the nursing home privately. If a transfer were made to or for the benefit of the someone other than the parent from the joint account, it would be a gift and a transfer penalty would be imposed by Medicaid.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice. Circular 230 Disclaimer: Any information in this answer may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The elder law attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Danvers, Massachusetts; Waltham, Massachusetts; Quincy, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire and Salem, New Hampshire.

If a person has nothing in his name he is to inherit property &business can a lien be put on his inheritance if convicted of personal injury?

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS-BELIVEAU:

Has the person died yet? If not, my answer would be for the grantor to change his Will and/or trust so that the assets are not transferred to you. The grantor should create a spendthrift trust for your benefit. This means that you have no right to the assets. The Trustee may make distributions to you but would not be required to do so. Those assets could not be touched by your creditors unless the Trustee made a distribution to you.
If the person has already died, has the judgment already been issued? You could avail yourself of a asset protection trust. However, there are rules to funding these trusts and one of them is that you can’t have a judgment against you or have one issued within a certain time period from funding the trusts.
Lastly, what type of business are you inheriting? Is it a limited liability company? Would you be inheriting all of the company? An LLC has a creditor protection component built into it. A creditor could obtain a charging order which requires that any distribution from an LLC be paid to you, but could not pierce through the company to get to the underlying assets nor force a distribution to the owners.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice. Circular 230 Disclaimer: Any information in this answer may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate planning attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Danvers, Massachusetts; Waltham, Massachusetts; Quincy, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire and Salem, New Hampshire.

Is it legal for a friend to will his home to me if there are living family members?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

My close friend has appointed me executor of his will and it includes leaving me his home and all the contents.  He has living family members and I’m concern they will contest even though they are receiving other assets.

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS-BELIVEAU:

A person’s Last Will is valid as long he had testamentary capacity, is over 18, and the Will has been witnessed. If your friend is of sound mind, he is free to leave his assets to whomever and however he wishes.
That being said, anyone can contest a Will at any time. The family members could claim that you exerted “undue Influence” and used coercion so that your friend was tricked into leaving you an inheritance. For instance, when an aide moves into an elder’s home, takes over his finances, drives him to an attorney’s offices and viola, the aide now inherits everything, there has been undue influence. If you have a close, long-standing friendship with the elder and you were not present during the attorney-client meeting, then that is a different story.

Also, typically states honor what is called a no contest clause. That is a provision in the Will where if one beneficiary challenges a provision in the Will or the validity of the Will and loses, then the beneficiary forfeits all of his inheritance. It can serve as a good deterrent.
Your friends should bring up those issues to his estate planning attorney.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice. Circular 230 Disclaimer: Any information in this answer may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate planning attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Danvers, Massachusetts; Waltham, Massachusetts; Quincy, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire and Salem, New Hampshire.

Can we stop a nominated executor from filing probate ? We are seeking in process of uncontested guardianship.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

My sister is POA for my mother and father. Her 4 siblings have filed for guardianship after 2 yrs of obvious receipt from her concerning our folks assets , her obvious drug issues, misuse of both cash& credit and the selling of our parents house and estate without honest disclosure. Father passed 3 days prior to the first hearing in which she perjured herself concerning a lapsed life insurance policy which was discovered by her siblings while making funeral arrangements. She spent 2 yrs borrowing against the policy while telling her siblings premiums were being made. As POA , having hidden all of our parents assets, on the day of funeral planning, she refused to pay for either florist or funeral expenses. Yesterday, she hired an attorney to negotiate the discovery ordered April 2, 2014.

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS-BELIVEAU:

Your father’s Will needs to be probated only if there are probate assets. It is unclear whether your mother is still alive. Were all the assets owned jointly with your mother, have a beneficiary designation on them, or in a trust? If so, those assets avoided probate.
To probate the assets, the Will must be submitted to the probate court. The heirs of your father will be notified. If it is your sister who is the nominated the executor, you can ask her to decline to serve as executor. If she petitions to be appointed executor, you have the right to object.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice. Circular 230 Disclaimer: Any information in this answer may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The probate attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Danvers, Massachusetts; Waltham, Massachusetts; Quincy, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire and Salem, New Hampshire.

Sue my brother for back taxes

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

House was bought by mom/dad/son in 1993 as joint tenants. dad past away 2002 and son/mom now are joint tenants. Paul quit claimed a deed to add his wife in 2003 without conscent of mom as he did use a lawyer and mom was told he did not need conscent of mom. 2011 mom did the same quit claimed a deed using a lawyer to add her daughter and me and mom with a life estate. city hall pulls up the latest deeds and my moms was the latest and instead of saying also conveyed by son and his wife it says by deed and page number so on the tax bill it does not show his name so he’s refusing to pay half the taxes on the property. Since I’m paying his share of taxes and have receipts can I sue him or should I wait and once house is sold I will get it back?

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS-BELIVEAU:

When the real estate tax bills are spit out, the city takes the name of the person on the last deed whether or not he owns all the property, a life estate, or one-half. It doesn’t have the capability to do title run downs to determine who owns what if the interests are on more than one deed. Ask the clerk at the town hall to write a letter to your brother.
A letter from an attorney notifying your brother that he is still one-half owner and should pay his share would be helpful.
The problem you have is that joint owners are jointly and severally liable. That means that each owner is responsible for paying all of the bill and creditors can go after either or both owners.
Your mother could play hard ball with your brother. She could write him out of her Will. She could also threaten that she will only pay half of the real estate taxes and let the city go after your brother as a creditor. Not paying your bill comes with a different set of problems, but might be enough to get his attention and let him know that she is serious and the threat might be enough.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice. Circular 230 Disclaimer: Any information in this answer may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The litigation attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Danvers, Massachusetts; Waltham, Massachusetts; Quincy, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire and Salem, New Hampshire.

Which prevails, bank registration or trust document?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

If a bank has an INVESTMENT ACCOUNT titled “Transfer on death” to one beneficiary and a Living Trust document (unfunded) lists the INVESTMENT ACCOUNT as trust property to another beneficiary, which document prevails?
The Grantor is deceased.

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS-BELIVEAU:

A trust must be funded in order for it to do any good. A trust may be funded either during a person’s life, which is the least costly way, or via probate if directed by the Last Will and Testament to fund the trust. In your case, the asset was not transferred during the grantor’s life. His Will will not govern because any account with a transfer on death avoids probate. The investment account will go to the beneficiary listed on the account.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice. Circular 230 Disclaimer: Any information in this answer may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate planning attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Danvers, Massachusetts; Waltham, Massachusetts; Quincy, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire and Salem, New Hampshire.

How do I word a legal guarantee that my sister’s children will be given our mother’s rings when our other sister dies?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

There is a very tense relationship between sisters at this point there is only a verbal promise

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS-BELIVEAU:

The inheritance of the rings will governed by your sister’s Last Will and Testament. If she wants her nieces to inherit her rings, it should be written into her Will.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice. Circular 230 Disclaimer: Any information in this answer may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate planning attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Danvers, Massachusetts; Waltham, Massachusetts; Quincy, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire and Salem, New Hampshire.

Financial tips for the 20-something generation

The earlier you start, the easier it will be to get ahead financially. Here are some recommendations for those in their early twenties.

Pay yourself first. Every time you get paid, put something aside in a savings or investment account. As a general rule, save 10% of your income. Even smaller amounts add up over time.

Watch your plastic. Credit cards are an expensive form of debt, and it’s easy to lose control of them. Try to pay your entire credit balance every month, even if it’s a stretch. If you’ve been carrying a balance, buy nothing more on credit until the balance is zero. [Read more…]

Pay attention to your MAGI to qualify for tax breaks

Take a look at your 2013 tax return after it’s prepared. How close to the edge did you come to losing tax benefits due to tax phase-outs? As you begin your 2014 tax planning, consider the effects of these benefit-limiting provisions, many of which are based on modified adjusted gross income, or MAGI. Knowing how close you are to the “edge” can help you preserve tax breaks for 2014.

A caution: Since the definition of MAGI as applicable to individual phase-outs varies, you might have to choose between conflicting opportunities. For instance, if you have a child in college this semester, the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit may be on your mind. Both benefits are education-related, yet the qualifying requirements differ – including the MAGI threshold.

  • Education benefits. The American Opportunity Credit is a partially refundable, dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax bill, with a maximum of $2,500 per student. This year the credit starts to shrink when your MAGI reaches $160,000 and you’re married filing jointly ($80,000 when you’re single). It disappears completely when your MAGI is greater than $180,000 for joint returns, and $90,000 when your filing status is single. [Read more…]

April is tax filing time

Tuesday, April 15, is the deadline for filing certain returns and taking certain tax-related actions. Here are the major deadlines.

  • Filing 2013 income tax returns for individuals. If you cannot file your return by this deadline, be sure to file an extension request by April 15. The automatic extension (you don’t need to explain to the IRS why you need more time) gives you until October 15, 2014, to file your return. An extension does not, generally, give you more time to pay taxes you still owe. To avoid penalty and interest charges, taxes must be paid by April 15. [Read more…]

Geoffrey McCullough

“Employment and contract litigation is a lengthy, involved process that is daunting and sometimes scary.  Geoff McCullough was my attorney and my employer’s attorney defending a case against us.  He was outstanding.  He helped us through the whole process, from beginning through trial.  He’s a great listener and advisor.  He’s also outstanding in trial.  He won the case.

~Lisa Evaneski

Geoff McCullough is an outstanding trial lawyer

Geoff McCullough sees things through and is an outstanding counselor and trial lawyer.  He works closely with those he represents. His personal touch and inclusive disposition helped me stay focused and engaged throughout the process and supported me through a very stressful experience.  I recommend him most highly. 

~Assaad Sayah, MD