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Helping People Age with Dignity

Middlesex County & Essex County Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Deciding on a reliable and committed guardian

For many Massachusetts families, determining who to rely on as a legal guardian for incapacitated loved ones is met with angst and stress. Whether a couple is seeking guardianship for their children if something were to happen to them, or someone is looking for a guardian for an elderly or disabled family member, determining who should undertake such a serious responsibility should be done carefully.

According to NC Health and Human Services, responsibilities of a court-appointed guardian may include any of the following:

  • Filing and submitting legal documents, accountings and reports for the individual in their care.
  • Determining where the person they are caring for will live and how he or she will be cared for.
  • Managing the person’s financial affairs and making decisions regarding his or her medical treatment and care.

What is the role of capacity in estate planning?

When you are planning your estate in Massachusetts, you may have to undergo a capacity test of some kind to ensure you have the mental capacity to legally create your estate documents. Most often the idea of capacity is used when it comes to the creation of your will, according to the American Psychological Association.

There are some set standards used to assess competence when it comes to legal ability to draft and sign a will. In short, you must be able to understand what you are doing when you are creating the document. You also need to know what property you own and how your creation of the will is going to distribute this property.

Elements of an inventory estate

After someone in Massachusetts dies, the administrator of the estate has a number of duties to perform. One of these, according to The General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is to prepare an inventory of everything the decedent owned at the time of his or her death. This involves identifying and listing assets and their value, as well as details about each item and whether there is any mortgage or other lien or debt associated with it.

Chron.com notes that there are some exclusions that the estate administrator does not need to list. For example, jointly held assets such as real estate or bank accounts typically do not go through probate, but remain in the possession of the other person on the account or title. Assets held in a trust are also not part of the estate’s inventory.

State high court issues ruling in MassHealth case

Among the benefits qualifying individuals can receive from MassHealth is financial help with the costs related to nursing home care. Getting nursing home care they need can be of great importance to an elderly person’s overall health and well-being. However, such care can cost a lot. So, what effects trusts and other things can have on one’s MassHealth eligibility can be a significant issue for the state’s elderly population.

Recently, the state’s highest court made a decision in a case regarding trusts and MassHealth eligibility.

Wanting an elderly loved one to keep living at home common

As an elderly individual gets older, one of the big issues that can come up is where they will live. This includes the big decision of whether they will continue to live at home or instead move into a senior care facility.

A recent survey indicates that many adults want their parents to be able to keep living at home. The survey, by Senior Helpers, was of 1,000 individuals between the ages of 45 and 64.

Pet-related concerns in estate planning

Estate planning can be used to address a range of concerns elderly individuals have about the future. This includes concerns regarding their pets. A pet can be a very beloved companion. So, an elderly pet owner may care very much about putting protections in place to ensure their cherished companion is cared for in the future, whatever the future holds.

Why adult children and their elderly parents need to talk about fraud

The majority of adult children whose senior parents live on their own will go out of their way to ensure that their mother and father are living safely and comfortably. Depending on the circumstances, this could mean little more than daily phone calls, or it could also mean regular visits to perform chores and wellness checks.

Adult children take time out of their busy schedules to do these things not just out of love, but because they know how much their older parent values their home and, perhaps more significantly, their independence.

Passwords and estate planning

Yesterday was World Password Day. This day is aimed at raising awareness of the importance of strong passwords when it comes to cyber-security. So, passwords are something that might be fresh on a lot of people’s minds right now.

In today’s world, online passwords can control access to all manner of accounts and important documents for a person. So, ensuring that the wrong people don’t get your passwords is critical, hence the importance of strong passwords and good password security.

Seniors can face a range of different tactics from scammers

Unfortunately, seniors can find themselves the targets of fraud schemes by scammers. Fraud schemes vary greatly in their specifics and in the methods scammers use to try to get their elderly targets to give them money.

A recent CBS Moneywatch article went over some of the more common tactics scammers use on individuals to try to ensnare them in a fraud scheme. These include:

Estate planning doesn’t have to be focused on death

One of the areas in which procrastination can strike is in estate planning. One thing that may lead people to drag their feet on estate planning is an assumption that the process will be very death-focused. Death is a topic many people don’t like to think about, so the thought of going through a death-focused process can be an unappealing one.

So, an important thing for people to know is that, while many aspects of an estate plan do deal with what will happen after one passes away, this doesn’t mean the process has to be focused on death. Rather, it can be focused on what is important in a person’s life. For one, it can be focused on family.