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Worcester Massachusetts Estate Planning Law Blog

What to know when considering an advanced health care directive

Planning for the future can be a daunting task, especially when you don’t know what lies ahead. An advanced health care directive allows you to remain in control over what happens to you in the event of incapacitation.

Two common types of advanced directives are health care directives/proxies and living wills.

Is falling inevitable as your parents age?

As an adult child of aging parents, you likely have many things you want to help your parents consider while planning for the future. Pre-determining how they want to meet their medical needs may require a great deal of thought, conversation and documentation.

Unfortunately, no matter how much planning you do, your parents could fall and suffer injuries. Even if they live in a well-staffed nursing home, you may want to do all you can to decrease your parents’ chances of falling.

Creating a will means embracing choice

A person is often unable to make many choices about his or her own death. However, you can make choices about what you want to happen after your death. One way to embrace those choices is by creating a last will and testament.

There are many benefits to creating a will, such as speeding up the probate process, minimizing estate taxes and preventing family infighting. However, some of the most valuable benefits involve your ability to make choices about what happens after your death.

Elder Law vs. Estate Planning

Many people have difficulty describing the difference between what a traditional estate planning attorney offers his or her clients versus what an elder law attorney offers his or her clients.

The easy answer is that an estate planning attorney addresses the common issue of what happens to one's assets at death.  In a traditional estate planning setting, much emphasis is placed on minimizing estate taxes, as well as insuring the most efficient and least restrictive means of transferring wealth to others.

When to Update an Existing Estate Plan

Completing an estate plan generally provides individuals with a sense of relief and accomplishment knowing that their wishes and desires with respect to medical and financial decision making, as well as asset distribution are represented in black and white. However, most people take a set it and forget it approach meaning that once their planning is completed, they are under the misconception that it should not be reviewed or addressed at a later date. In a perfect world, estate plans should be reviewed and updated (if necessary) on a regular basis. The following life events or changes in circumstances may require an update of your estate plan:

Who will make critical life decisions for you if you cannot?

There is no substitute for being properly prepared when disaster strikes. Even in the course of ordinary life, it can become increasingly difficult for us as we get older to manage our own affairs. But this is especially true in cases of stroke, Alzheimer's and other mentally debilitating conditions. Fortunately, Massachusetts law allows residents to choose who they want to have control over their personal affairs should they lose the ability to do so,

A durable power of attorney is a document that allows you to give another person (called an "attorney-in-fact") the authority to make banking, real estate and other financial decisions on your behalf. It can be broad in its granting of authority or limited to specific aspects of your financial dealings. The goal of the instrument is to allow you to choose the person who will control your personal affairs in the event you are unable, instead of leaving it to the state to appoint a conservator.

What happens to my mortgage if I die?

In meeting with clients, a common question that surfaces is what happens to my home if I pass away and still owe a lender money. The easy answer is that the mortgage still needs to be paid, whether by a surviving joint owner of the property, personal representative of the estate of the decedent, or by the trustee of a trust if the property was owned by a trust. This is the case because the mortgage follows its collateral, the real estate, and not the person that has passed away.

MassHealth Eligibility for Adult Day Health Participants

Adult Day Health programs are a lesser known alternative to providing care to an aging or disabled family member. These programs offer a win/win situation for everyone in the family-from the client or member who attends the program to the family member who has primary responsibility as caregiver. Adult day Health programs afford the participant the opportunity for socialization, companionship, daily activities, exercise, nutrition, emotional support, nursing, and personal care, in addition to so much more. It also permits much-needed respite for the caregiver, providing a break from the physical, psychological and emotional demands of providing care at home.

Medicare v. Medicaid - A long-term care perspective

Based on the similarity of their names, confusing Medicare with Medicaid is easy. However, there are stark differences between what the programs provide to their respective participants.

Medicare is a national health insurance program for which most people 65 years of age and older can qualify. It is most notably known for its difference coverages: Part A (hospital and other outpatient services), Part B (physician visits), and Part D (prescription drugs). With respect to long term care coverage, Medicare will only pay for a stay in a nursing home care provisionally after a hospital stay of at least three days. In a best case scenario, Medicare will cover up to 100 days of skilled nursing facility care for rehabilitation.

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