Promissory Notes and MassHealth Planning

Promissory notes are a tool that attorneys have relied on in MassHealth planning. A promissory note is essentially a written promise to pay someone a certain amount of notemoney at a certain time. In this post, I use one of our recent successful appeals of a MassHealth decision to illustrate the regulatory requirements that a promissory note must meet to avoid being deemed a disqualifying transfer. In our case, “Glenda” applied for MassHealth long-term care benefits but was denied because MassHealth determined that a promissory note between Glenda’s husband and her son was a disqualifying transfer. Continue reading

Posted in Elder Law, MassHealth

Lisa Neeley to speak on the Legal Aspects of Aging

On March 21, 2017, the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers will host its “Overview of Legal and Physical Health Aspects of Aging” training in Framingham, Massachusetts as part of its Aging Training Series. Lisa Neeley will discuss the intersection of aging and the law. Click here for more information and to register for the event.

Posted in Elder Law

Your Medicaid Application Was Denied. Now What?

picture-for-lisa-medicaid-denialAs elder law attorneys, it is our goal to have each and every client’s Medicaid application to receive MassHealth benefits ultimately approved. However, the reality is that in some cases, an application may initially be denied.

Applications are denied for a variety of reasons. Continue reading

Posted in Elder Law, MassHealth

Is an Increased Massachusetts Estate Tax Exemption in the Cards?

dollar-660223_640Massachusetts remains in the minority of states that have not increased their estate tax exemption since the federal estate tax exemption was raised in 2001. The Massachusetts estate tax exemption is currently $1,000,000 per person (though it disappears if you die owning more than this amount) while the federal estate tax exemption is now $5,450,000 per person.

Legislation introduced in Massachusetts would increase the Massachusetts estate tax exemption to 50% of the amount of the federal estate tax exemption. The legislation would also eliminate the disappearing nature of the current exemption. The legislation is currently under review in committee. However, the legislation’s future is uncertain given the loss in tax revenues that would result from its enactment. Continue reading

Posted in Estate Taxes

Let’s Get Physical: Body Donation in Massachusetts

Most of us are familiar with the small heart or other symbol on a driver’s license signifying grave-3that a person is an organ donor. But what if you would like to donate your entire body—organs and all—“to science,” as it is commonly phrased? How does one go about doing this? This post discusses how estate planning can address body donation; note that this discussion covers only the donation of one’s entire body, not the donation of one’s organs.

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Posted in Anatomical Gifts, Estate Planning

MassHealth’s Proposed Changes to Pooled Trusts Highlighted in The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe recently published an article concerning MassHealth’s proposed regulatory ban for transfers of assets to pooled trusts for individuals over the age of 65. The article profiles a typical client who might use a pooled trust, an elderly and disabled gentleman with minimal savings who uses his trust funds to pay for the services of a companion caregiver.

The client is a nursing home resident. By using the pooled trust, he is able to pay for basic essentials and enjoy meals out at local restaurants. If the pooled trust is eliminated as an option for him, presumably he would then be forced to spend down the remaining funds in the trust on nursing home care—which would be depleted in a matter of months—or else be disqualified from receiving MassHealth long-term care benefits.

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Posted in Elder Law, MassHealth, Pooled Trusts

Oral Arguments in Nadeau v. Thorn

The oral arguments in Nadeau v. Thorn were heard by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court last week on January 5, 2017. Mirick O’Connell’s Lisa Neeley argued on behalf of the Appellant, Lionel C. Nadeau. Please click here to view the arguments. We will update you once the case is decided.

Posted in Elder Law, Estate Planning, MassHealth

Should You Leave Money to Your Pets?

pupPets are part of the family. They eat special food, require daily care and medications, and even sleep with their owners at night. But have you considered actually leaving money to your pet after you die? It may sound crazy, but under the law, pets are considered tangible personal property, similar to a car, jewelry, or furniture. Therefore, you can and should consider including your pet in your overall estate plan, because otherwise you risk your pet going to a shelter or being left homeless after you die. Continue reading

Posted in Estate Planning, Pet Trusts, Wills

Valuation Discounts for Family Businesses Under Attack

This past summer, the Treasury Department issued a controversial set of proposed regulations designed to prevent the long-standing practice of discounting the value of interests in family businesses given to other family members. The regulations have received significant criticism from family business owners and their professional advisors, who claim that the regulations are too broad and constitute an impermissible exercise of Treasury’s regulatory authority. Public comment on the proposed regulations is due in November and Treasury will hold a public hearing on December 1st. The regulations will not take effect until they are issued in final form, which is not expected until early to mid-2017 or later. Until then, taxpayers may continue to claim discounts in accordance with current practice.

Since most practitioners believe that the final version of the regulations will retain the anti-discount bias of the proposed regulations, family business owners contemplating large gifts to family members over the next 6-12 months should consider accelerating their timetable for making these gifts to take advantage of the discount benefits allowed by current law before the final regulations take effect.

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Posted in Family Businesses

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to hear oral arguments in two Medicaid eligibility cases involving irrevocable trusts

On January 5, 2017, the highest court in Massachusetts will hear oral arguments in two cases concerning the use of irrevocable trusts in Medicaid planning and denials of long-term care benefits. A synopsis of each case is provided below: Continue reading

Posted in Elder Law, MassHealth, Trusts