Can we protect my mother’s assets from Medicaid by having a family members live in her house and act as caretaker?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I heard from a neighbor but can’t confirm that Medicaid’s five year “look back” for assets that can be applied to nursing home expenses is cut back to two years if a family member lives in the house and acts as caretaker. If so, do they have to be living there for two years before the reduced look back takes effect? Or does it take effect right away? Thanks!

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS:

There are a few exceptions to the transfer penalties that are applied by Medicaid to applications. One such exception is a caretaker child exception. It extends down only to a child, no further. If that child resides in the home for 2 years prior to the applicant entering the nursing home AND provided care which delayed the entry of the applicant into the nursing home,then Medicaid will not apply the transfer penalty.  In Massachusetts, the current regulations read only that the entry is delayed, not that the care had to be for two years.  The house can only be deeded to the child. You need to consult with an elder law attorney to determine if you can qualify for the caretaker child exception or any other. Planning early is the key to 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 [Read more…]

Can bartering be an effective business strategy?

Have you ever thought about bartering as a way to get the goods and services you need for your business? A growing number of businesses are finding ways to use the bartering system as a means to avoid using up their company’s cash.

A simple bartering arrangement involves two parties trading items of similar value. For example, let’s say your business owns a building located next to a telephone company. An internet service provider might be interested in storing its services in an unused portion of your basement. Instead of paying rent, they offer to provide you with a high-speed internet connection and website. [Read more…]

Making the most of your tax refund

If you are expecting a tax refund, you might consider investing your refund or using it to increase your financial security. While everyone’s needs are different, here are some optional uses of your refund that may work for you. [Read more…]

Time to plan for inflation-adjusted 2017 tax numbers

Each year, certain tax figures are adjusted for inflation. While most figures are unchanged versus 2016, there is more than a 7% increase to the maximum earnings subject to social security tax. Take note of these numbers to use in your 2017 planning. [Read more…]

Mark your calendar: Tax deadlines

February 28

  • Payers must file information returns (except certain Forms 1099-MISC with non-employee compensation payments in box 7, which are due before February 1) with the IRS. (Except for certain Forms 1099-MISC outlined earlier, the deadline is March 31 if filing electronically.)
  • Forms 1095-B and 1095-C due to the IRS, if filing on paper.

March 1

  • Farmers and fishermen who did not make 2016 estimated tax payments must file 2016 tax returns and pay taxes in full.

March 2

  • Large employers must furnish Form 1095-B and Form 1095-C to employees.

March 15

  • 2016 calendar-year S corporation Form 1120S income tax returns are due.
  • 2016 calendar-year partnerships Form 1065 income tax returns are due.

March 31

  • Forms 1095-B and 1095-C due to the IRS, if filing electronically. (Employers who have 250 or more employees are required to file electronically.)

How do i sell mothers home,without power of attorney?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Mother is in nursing home, money is running out soon. I am her daughter, but I don’t have durable power of attorney.What do I need to do,legally to sell her home, so that I can continue to pay her nursing home bill/utilities/property taxes/and medications?

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS:

Under Medicaid, her home is a non-countable assets. Instead of trying to sell the house, you should consult with an elder law attorney about applying for Medicaid. In Florida, Medicaid can’t collect against the home after your mother’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. [Read more…]

Can you charge a fee if you are the administrator or executor in an informal probate?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

What would that fee be?

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS:

As Personal Representative, you may charge reasonable fees to the estate. You may charge differently for different tasks. For example, cleaning out the basement would be charged out at a lesser amount than the preparation of the tax return for the estate or the decedent. You will need to keep records on how long you spent on each task. Your fee will be reported to the beneficiaries of the estate in the Accounting. The beneficiaries may object if they feel you overcompensated yourself. Please remember that any fee you take are considered income and should be reported on your own income tax return.

[Read more…]

How do open a checking account if the Insurance Policy checks are made out to the Estate of?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

My Fiancé passed away over a year ago. I was Power of Attorney and 100 percent beneficiary of his Trust. He got too sick to transfer everything under the trust. Now I have a pour over will naming me Personal Representative. Giving me full power with no bond. The banks will not accept the will. They are telling me they need a letter stating I have legal rights to the money. I don’t know what to do.
[Read more…]

MassHealth estate recovery and probate litigation

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

How much time does Masshealth have to make such a claim? Is there a time limit? Also, it is my understanding that they can only take whatever the decedent owned at the time of death. I assume then, any insurance proceedings and lawsuits proceedings post death are not available to Masshealth right?

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS:

The normal creditor period in Massachusetts is a year from the date of death. However, MassHealth’s claim is one year or 4 months after notice of the probate is sent to MassHealth. Simply speaking, delaying the probate filing will not get out of the claim.
MassHealth only recovers against the probate estate. As long as an insurance policy had a beneficiary named, it will avoid probate. A lawsuit for wrongful death will be initiated by the estate of the decedent and therefore the proceeds will go through probate.
I strongly suggest you hire a probate attorney if there is litigation involved. There are several issues which arise when litigation starts if the probate is not done correctly from the beginning.

[Read more…]

My grandmother would like to change her power of attorney. How can she do so?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

My grandmother currently has a family friend designated as her POA. She would now like me to be her POA. How can we make this change?

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS:

All she has to do is execute a new power of attorney and notify the old agent that the old power of attorney was revoked. This is easily done through an attorney. The attorney will need to meet with your grandmother alone to determine her wishes and establish an attorney-client privilege.

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 [Read more…]

In MA, if Medicaid paid for a deceased hospitalization, do the heirs have to wait until the Estate Recovery fund is paid back?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

In MA, if Medicaid paid for a deceased hospitalization which is now in probate, does the administrator/heirs have to wait until the Estate Recovery fund is paid back before collecting any inheritances?

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS:

MassHealth is a creditor of the estate. MassHealth is notified when the probate documents are filed with the probate court and has by statute a right to submit a claim on the estate. Once the claim has been filed with the probate court, the personal representative may file for a deferral or a waiver within 60 days if certain exceptions are met such as surviving spouse, minor children, disabled children, or hardships.

[Read more…]

Do I inherit my estranged spouse’s estate if no other survivors?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Husband and I have been separated for a couple of years. We have no kids. Husband has now passed away and he has no living heirs or other living relatives. He did not have a will. We had a very amicable separation but we had no property settlement agreement. What is the law in Mass regarding inheritance of a separated spouse?

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS:

Under Massachusetts law, until the divorce decree is issued, you are married for estate planning purposes.  As long as your husband had no surviving parents, you will inherit his property under the laws of intestacy.  You will need to file for an estate administration at the probate court.

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.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate administration attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for probate, estate administration, and trust administration. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Waltham, Massachusetts; and Salem, New Hampshire

Pending personal injury settlement needs to be put in special needs trust for disabled senior – what is best way to handle this?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Elderly mom will be receiving personal injury award. Expected to be $100K – $200K after lawyers & others are paid. Since mom is on Medicare & Medicaid, she’ll need a special needs trust to ensure that she isn’t disqualified from these government programs. Questions:

1) Since Medicare/Medicaid are means-driven programs, the recipient can’t have more than $2000 in assets. Does that mean the max she can withdraw from the trust is $2000? [Read more…]

Terrific

Mary is terrific! Very thorough and responsive.

~W. Zhang

Refi and new purchase

I worked with Mary to refinance and to purchase at the same time. She was very efficient, professional, and quick. Everything went smoothly, and she had useful advice on a few questions that arose in the process. I highly recommend her.

~Anonymous

Efficient and helpful

She did a great job reviewing a lease agreement very careful and attentive. I highly recommend her.

~Tony

Should you buy an annuity doubler for long-term care?

“Annuity doublers” are being touted as a new alternative to long-term care insurance. But are they a good idea?

Long-term care plans have become much more expensive lately, pricing many older people out of the market. As an alternative, some companies are offering annuities that have a “nursing home doubler.” With this option, the amount of monthly annuity income you would normally receive is doubled during any period you’re in a nursing home, which will help pay for care.

The term “doubler” can be misleading. Some policies only pay 50% extra – although others pay triple. In most cases the extra income lasts for up to five years, or until the annuity’s cash value is exhausted. [Read more…]

How to protect against elder financial abuse

Seniors who are dependent on others due to illness, disability or cognitive impairments may be susceptible to financial abuse and fraud. The culprits may be outside predators, hired caregivers, or in some cases even relatives.

If you or a family member is increasingly dependent, there are some simple but important steps you can take to reduce the chance of abuse.

The most important step is to have a trusted family member or friend be involved in the finances – visiting often, reviewing statements, and generally exercising oversight. The best defense against financial exploitation is having someone else around who can notice large checks, unusual ATM withdrawals, missing valuables, and so on. [Read more…]

Many older estate plans have an unnecessary trust

An estate planning technique that was very popular some years ago is still present in many people’s wills, especially if they haven’t reviewed their estate plan in a while. But this technique – called a “bypass trust” – might now actually increase taxes rather than decrease them for many people, as a result of changes in the law in the last few years. If you haven’t reviewed your estate plan recently, now is a good time.

Not long ago, the federal estate tax affected even relatively small estates, and it was a big problem. One solution was to provide that, when the first spouse died, many assets would go into a trust. The trust would take care of the surviving spouse, and when he or she died, the assets would go to the children. The assets in the trust would escape, or “bypass,” the estate tax.

Now, however, the federal estate tax only affects estates worth well over $5 million (and, if handled properly, couples worth more than $10 million). So in the vast majority of cases, these bypass trusts are no longer necessary. [Read more…]

Residents of care facilities can still vote – here’s how

Voting is the foundation of any democratic system, but it isn’t easy if you’re in a long-term care facility. Residents of nursing, assisted living and other facilities face a number of challenges in voting, from registering to actually casting a ballot.

When you move into a nursing home or assisted living residence, your address changes, which means you’ll probably need to re-register to vote based on your new address. You can register in person, by mail, or, in many cases, online.

You can often register in person at your local elections office or your local motor vehicle department office. For more information on where to register, go to: http://tinyurl.com/lw-where-to-register. [Read more…]

Avoid this new Medicare ‘trap’

When Judy Hanttula came home from the hospital after surgery last November, her doctor’s office called with bad news: Records showed that even though Judy had signed up for Original Medicare, she was nevertheless enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Original Medicare wouldn’t pay for the surgery because she now had an Advantage plan, and the Advantage plan wouldn’t pay for it because her doctor and hospital weren’t in its network. So Judy was on the hook for more than $16,500.

After more than five hours of making phone calls, Judy discovered what had happened. Because she had individual coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield before she became eligible for Medicare, the company had automatically signed her up for its own Medicare Advantage plan. Blue Cross had apparently notified Judy of this in a letter. But because Judy had already signed up for Original Medicare, and because she was being deluged with letters from health plans at the time, she ignored it, not realizing it was important. [Read more…]

Some federal income tax refunds may be temporarily delayed

In general, you can expect your federal refund to be issued approximately 21 days after your electronically filed tax return has been accepted. However, identity theft is still a major problem, and the IRS continues to implement new strategies to protect taxpayer data. For example, if you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit on your 2016 individual federal income tax return, your refund will be held until February 15.

Standard mileage rates go down for 2017

Have you noticed the price of gas? So has the IRS – and the reimbursement rate for business mileage has gone down as a result. The new rate for 2017 is 53.5¢ per mile, down from the 2016 rate of 54¢ per mile.

The rate for medical and moving mileage also decreased. Effective January 1, the standard rate is 17¢ per mile, down from last year’s 19¢. The charitable mileage rate remains 14¢.

2017 financial shape up: Small steps toward big goals

Shaping up your finances in 2017 may seem like a big goal, perhaps even too daunting. But if you take one small step at a time, these small steps will add up. Here are suggestions.

* Shift out of automatic. Have you established automatic bill pay at your bank or service provider, or automatic charges to your credit card?

Small step: Look for payments for goods or services you no longer use, such as recurring monthly subscriptions, and cancel them. [Read more…]

IRS extended the due date for Forms 1095

When you’re an applicable large employer (generally, when you employ 50 or more full-time workers and equivalents), you’re required to provide information about health coverage to the IRS and to your employees. The IRS extended the date on which two of these forms are due to your employees. Instead of being due January 31, Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, and Form 1095-C, Employer Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage,  are now due March 2, 2017. There is no change to the February 28, 2017, due date for filing paper forms with the IRS, nor the March 31, 2017, due date for filing electronically.

Note the new due dates for Forms W-2 and 1099

Did you spot the new due dates on the tax calendar? As you begin your January payroll preparation, take into account earlier due dates for two common information reporting forms.

Forms W-2 for 2016 are due January 31 for all copies. In the past, you had to provide Forms W-2 to your employees by January 31. Now the January 31 deadline also applies to copies submitted to the Social Security Administration.

The due date for filing all copies of 2016 Forms 1099-MISC with non-employee compensation in Box 7 is January 31, 2017. For these forms, the January 31 due date also applies to both paper and electronic filing.

Mark your calendar: First quarter 2017 tax deadlines

Tax return filing season has arrived, which means it’s time to mark your calendar for these 2017 tax deadlines.

  • January 17 – Due date for the fourth and final installment of 2016 estimated tax for individuals (unless you file your 2016 return and pay any balance due by January 31).
  • January 31 – Employers must furnish 2016 W-2 statements to employees, and send copies to the Social Security Administration (both paper and electronic).
  • January 31 – Payers must file all copies of 2016 Forms 1099-MISC with non-employee compensation in Box 7. For these forms, the January 31 due date applies to both paper and electronic filing.
  • January 31 – Employers must generally file 2016 federal unemployment tax returns and pay any tax due.
  • February 28 – Payers must file information returns (except certain Forms 1099-MISC) with the IRS. (Except for certain Forms 1099-MISC, March 31 is the deadline if filing electronically.)
  • March 1 – Farmers and fishermen who did not make 2016 estimated tax payments must file 2016 tax returns and pay taxes in full.
  • March 2 – Large employers must furnish Form 1095-B and Form 1095-C to employees.