Thursday, April 26, 2012

Everyday Law for Seniors - Recommended Book for Elder Law Issues

Everyday Law for Seniors is a book recently featured in the New York Times column, The New Old Age. This book covers topics for seniors and those who care for them from retirement strategies, housing options, and long-term care to federal benefit programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. If you need answers to confusing legal issues, this book provides essential information in clear language about timely topics such as:
  • reverse mortgages
  • long-term care insurance
  • powers of attorney
  • guardianship
  • elder abuse. 
As New York Times writer Paula Span mentions in her review, "Even the most helpful book can’t substitute for the individualized advice of an elder attorney, but this one looks very useful for older people and their families." A good place to find an elder law attorney licensed to practice in your state is the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Their website is

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New Probate Law in Massachusetts Now in Effect

On March 31, 2012, the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (MUPC), G. L. c. 190B, went into effect and dramatically altered probate and estate administration practice in Massachusetts. For the past two years, the MUPC Implementation Committee, consisting of Probate and Family Court judges, registers, court staff and members of the bar have worked tirelessly to develop new court forms, procedures, rules, revised filing fees and educational materials to assist court staff and practitioners transition to the new law.

The new MUPC forms, an online procedural guide and other valuable resources, including all articles of the Code, are currently available on the Probate and Family Court website, MUPC hubpage, and will be updated periodically.
The version of the Code that went into effect on March 31, 2012 does not include technical changes to the MUPC, the Massachusetts Uniform Trust Code (MUTC), or revised filing fees that were incorporated in the comprehensive bill (S 2128) which is still pending in the Legislature. Due to the pending legislation, the Uniform Fee Schedule that is effective as of March 31, 2012 does not include specific references to actions and pleadings that will be utilized under the MUPC. Once the Legislature has acted, the Probate and Family Court will post a revised Uniform Fee Schedule.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Life Insurance Can Be Key To Financial Planning for Your Special-Needs Child

Life Insurance's Role in Setting Up a Trust for a Special Needs Child

A brief excerpt from an article on
An attorney can help you set up a special-needs trust -- an important tool if you think your child will require government help. A special needs trust holds assets for your child, and can be named as a beneficiary for life insurance. A trustee, usually a family member, distributes money to take care of your child. When set up properly, a special -needs trust provides money to maintain your child's quality of life and preserves eligibility for government benefits.

The trust shouldn't be generic or inflexible, but designed specifically for your child, says Diedre Wachbrit Braverman, a special-needs estate attorney in Boulder, Colo.

Braverman, whose brother has severe autism, speaks from experience; she helped her parents set up a trust. She recommends working with a special-needs attorney -- not just an estate attorney. The Academy of Special Needs Planners provides a search tool to find attorneys. She also recommends finding a knowledgeable life insurance agent.

Life insurance plays an important role because most families cannot save enough money for their children's lifetime needs, and the coverage provides security in case a parent dies prematurely.
A growing number of life insurance companies have established units for special-needs planning. MassMutual started its SpecialCare program in 2004. The company worked with The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa., to develop coursework and the Chartered Special Needs Consultant designation for agents who complete the schooling.

Read the rest of this article on

Sunday, July 17, 2011

NH Elder Law Attorney Marla Matthews Accepted into National Association

CONCORD, NH — New Hampshire Attorney Marla Matthews, who practices in the area of trusts and estates, has become a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). NAELA is a professional association of attorneys, judges and professors of law who are dedicated to improving the quality of legal services provided to seniors and people with special needs. As a condition of her membership, Matthews pledged to support NAELA’s aspirational standards for the practice of elder and special needs law.

She represents clients in a wide range of estate planning matters such as preservation and transfer of wealth, gift and estate tax planning, special needs trust planning, estate and trust administration, and planning for public benefits such as Medicaid. She is also a member of the New Hampshire Chapter of NAELA, as well as the Elder Law, Estate Planning and Probate Law Section of the New Hampshire Bar Association.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pet Trusts: Who Will Care for Fido and Fluffy after You Are Gone?

All but five states have some sort of pet trust laws (see linkable map), that allow for legal planning of the care and feeding of your pet after your death. Recently, Massachusetts enacted The Massachusetts Pet Trust Bill, which provides pet owners the ability to create a pet trust and set aside funds for their animals, including instructions for care, exercise and diet. The law also provides for designating a caregiver as a trustee to ensure directives are carried out. Massachusetts estate planning attorney Michelle Mulvena writes in her law firm's blog,
"In the past, pet owners had little say over how their animals were to be cared for upon their death. Many had chosen to designate money and appoint an individual in their wills for pet care, but there was no real legal obligation to carry out their wishes – until now."
She also writes:
"Not only will a pet trust give you peace of mind and ensure that your pet’s daily routine and lifestyle will not be disrupted, but it will drastically reduce the number of animals forced to enter shelters..."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hiring Elder Law Attorney Can Help Seniors Navigate Red Tape

In 2010, seniors who reached the $2,700 annual limit for prescription drug coverage and fell into the “doughnut hole,” received a $250 rebate. In 2011, the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” will begin shrinking and by 2020 Medicare Part D participants will be responsible for 25 percent of their total prescription drug cost.

This according to National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) who released this information on the one year anniversary the signing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While some parts of the ACA have not yet taken effect and Congress may make additional changes, it is important to highlight a few sections of the ACA that have already taken effect and are providing senior citizens with a higher quality of health care.

Starting in 2011, seniors will receive an annual wellness checkup from their doctor at no charge, and deductibles and coinsurance are eliminated for certain preventive services. The ACA will also expand Medicaid in order to help more people obtain quality, affordable care.

There is much more to the act and seniors who may feel overwhelmed by the new health care law and the changes to Medicare, should consider contacting  an Elder Law attorney to help them make informed decisions. Concerns about long-term care options can also be discussed with an Elder Law attorney who can help them navigate through the red tape and explain all of their options.

A listing of Elder Law attorneys who are members of NAELA can be found at

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Boomer Generation Rich in Inheritances — Estate Planning Needed

The MetLife Study of Inheritance and Wealth Transfer to Baby Boomers reports that Boomers will inherit $8.4 trillion at 2009 levels. The median per person figure is $64,000. $2.4 trillion has already been received.

The study, authored by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College for the MetLife Mature Market Institute, shows the wealthiest Boomers will be given an average of $1.5 million, while those at the other end of the spectrum will be left $27,000, an amount that represents a larger percentage of the latter group’s overall wealth. Two-thirds of all Boomers stand to receive some inheritance over their lifetime.

Alicia H. Munnell, a co-author of the study and director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, recommends that the subject of inheritance among the Boomers be used to generate family discussions about estate planning. While not everyone will be comfortable engaging on this topic, those who do so will likely find it helpful. A trusted family financial advisor may be useful in this regard.”

For more findings and methodology, or to download the report, go to: