Deland on Estates and Elder Law

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fun and Games with Gift Tax

Gifts can cause problems.  See how gift tax may affect your decision to make gifts.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

What You Should Take with You When There's a Fire or Flood

When you have to get out fast, should you take your "Estate Planning Portfolio?"  What happens if you don't?

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Stray House

Your house will take care of you, but only as long as you take care of it.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Do You Need a Financial Planner?

Some of my clients need help selecting financial products, and planning their retirement. 

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Case of the lost policy

How millions of dollars are lost because insurance proceeds are not claimed, and what to do about it.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Go Ahead - Do it yourself

When can you do it yourself, and when do you need a counseling lawyer?

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Best way to Avoid the Cost of Nursing Home

How to avoid the cost of a nursing home - and how to protect your property in case you can't.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Your Dog Can Have A Bank Account

How to provide for your pet.  Pet trusts are real and possible now in Massachusetts.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Home Sweet Homestead? Additional Protection from Nursing Home Costs Under Massachusetts Homestead Law


On December 16, 2010, Governor Patrick signed into law An Act Relevant to the Estate of Homestead.  The new law increases the homestead protection available to everyone. 

Homestead is simply a formal legal statement, recorded at the registry of deeds, that this property is your home.  By claiming Homestead, you can protect your home from the claims of creditors.

If you do not choose to formally file a Declaration of Homestead under the new law, your home will still be protected to the extent of $125,000.   Formal filing increases the limit to $500,000.  What does the protection mean? If you are sued for an unsecured debt, the equity in your home is protected.  This means that a creditor cannot attach your house while you are alive. 

This does not help people who have been using their house as a cash resource.  Mortgages, including Home Equity Lines of Credit, are specifically excluded from the protection.

It does help those who fear losing their homes to unexpected unsecured liabilities.  One example of an unexpected unsecured liability is a claim by a nursing home for payment for services.   No one wants to need the services of a nursing home.  Like any medical care, nursing home services are determined by what you need, not what you want.  Long term care insurance is only available to those who are unlikely to need it soon.  Some people simply cannot ensure against this risk because they cannot quality.  Others do not have the income available to pay for the insurance.  Filing homestead will protect your home against nursing home costs while you are alive. 

The purpose of this law is not to protect your home for your heirs, but to make sure that debt does not leave you homeless while you live.   Once both spouses are dead, unless they leave young children, the homestead protection no longer applies.

Under the old Homestead Act, it was not clear whether a residence in trust qualified for Homestead protection.  For this among other reasons, I have recommended that my clients place only the remainder interests in their homes into their trusts, retaining a life estate and claiming Homestead on the life estate. 

But for those who transfer their entire interest in a home into a trust, the ability to have the trustee file the Homestead Declaration could be valuable.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Still Your Baby ...


With your child’s college acceptance now in hand, you can turn your attention to preparing your eighteen year old for this new and exciting stage of life.
You will have a lot to plan for as you prepare to send your “baby” off to school this fall. Making sure that they have the right bedding, dorm supplies and meal plan is all part of that planning. 
Once you’ve gotten through the checklists and dropped your “baby” off (with some tears and lots of good advice), the only thing you’ll have left to do is worry. You’ll worry whether your freshman is eating enough, studying enough, and getting enough sleep. While we can’t help with these everyday concerns, we can help with one of the big ones: How will you know if something happens to your son or daughter while away at school? 
In most cases, unless your eighteen year old has signed the appropriate legal documents, (i.e. HIPAA release and Health Care Proxy) you might not know. HIPAA, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was created to help protect patient privacy; but it can mean that you, as the parent of an “adult child”, may not be able to get information about your son or daughter in a medical emergency.  
This is why your child should sign a HIPAA release before leaving home.
My office can create the HIPAA release and Health Care Proxy your child needs. We can then fax the documents to DocuBank, which will keep them on electronic file. Your child will be provided with an “I.C.E.” (In Case of Emergency) wallet card, with a toll-free number with which a hospital or doctor can obtain the documents by fax. The wallet card also contains allergy information and your name and telephone number. 
If your child is brought to a hospital, the I.C.E. service will be activated. The documents will be faxed to the hospital, and I.C.E. will also send you an alert. Since the hospital will have the HIPAA release form before you call, there should be no obstacle to you receiving the information you need.

To find out more about HIPAA or DocuBank I.C.E., please call us 508-429-8888. Let us help you have one less thing to worry about this fall!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Medicaid Problem: Solved!


At almost $100,000 a year, long-term care costs would quickly use up a lifetime of savings. The chances of spending some time in a nursing home are high; by some reports, a person age 65 has 1 in 2 chance of spending part of his or her life in a nursing home.   
There is a safety net: Medicaid, a federal program administered by the states that pays for long-term care. There is a catch, though. You only qualify for the safety net if you have essentially no savings left to pay for your care.
This seems unfair to many people. Why should the family have to lose all their savings? There is a solution. It is very simple, really, and perfectly legal.   It hinges on the difference between income and principal.
How would it be if you could keep the Medicaid authorities from treating, for instance, your bank account as income available to be spent? What if they were only able to see the interest on the bank account, the income? What if the asset itself, the principal, would still be available to your family after you were gone?
By transferring your investment assets to an Income Trust, you can continue to control the investment and spend the income. The principal is protected from your liabilities immediately, and becomes “invisible” to Medicaid after 5 years.
If you want to do this, you should do it right away. The sooner you transfer your assets to your Income Trust, the more likely it is to survive the 5 year “lookback” period.   

Archived Posts


Jennifer A. Deland, Counselor-at-Law advises clients throughout the Metrowest area, including Holliston, Hopkinton, Milford, Medway, Medfield, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Sherborn, Dover, Southborough, Sudbury and Westborough.

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| Phone: (508)429-8888

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