Below are FAQ's 1-5. See Part II of this guide for 6-10.
1. Do I need a lawyer for my estate plan?
Answer: To do it right, yes you do. I can*t tell you how many times I have reviewed documents from websites, or canned software, and they end up having to be completely scrapped and re-done. If you can only afford that solution, go ahead, it*s better than nothing. But the realty is that you get what you pay for in estate planning * custom documents are the key, even though it costs more.
2. What happens if I don*t have a Will?
Answer: You are leaving your loved ones with a substantial hardship when dealing with your assets. Most people think that, if there*s no Will, everything goes to the spouse. THIS IS NOT TRUE!! Under MA law, if there*s no Will, there is a split between the spouse and children, meaning your spouse could have to give up some of what was thought to be theirs! Even if you have taken care to save money or property for your loved ones after you are gone, the process for reaching that property is much more difficult if there is no Will to submit to the Court. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has very specific rules regarding *who gets what* if you die without a Will, and the new MUPC has imposed even greater restrictions. In addition, the amount to be distributed to your children will require a cumbersome and costly legal guardianship if the children are minors at the time of your death. Having a proper & up-to-date Will ensures that what you leave behind goes where you want it to.
3. How do I pay for long term care?
Answer: There are all types of long term care, including in-home care, assisted living, and nursing home care. If you are faced with the possibility of nursing home care, there are three ways you can pay for it. First, you can private pay. That means that you would use all of the money that you have, to pay for the nursing home. Second, you can purchase a long-term care insurance policy that would pay for your nursing and home care, or life insurance with an appropriate Rider. Lastly, you can position assets to financially qualify for Medicaid, which is run through *MassHealth* in Massachusetts. To qualify, a single person cannot have more than $2,000.00 in assets BUT, through proper use of Trusts, there are ways to exclude assets from this limit . Further, you can be penalized for any gifts that are made during the five years prior to applying for benefits.
4. How do I qualify for Medicaid / MassHealth?
Answer: You have to apply, and the application process is grueling. Typically, an attorney is needed to help with the application, which is voluminous and detailed. A single person cannot have more than $2,000.00 in assets and a spouse that stays in the home can have up to $123,600.00 in 2018. While that sounds like a lot, the number drops right back down to $2,000.00 if that spouse ends up needing nursing home care too. We can provide an evaluation to tell you your liklihood of qualifying, and we utilize a service that can help you gather documents needed for the application. Contact us or click HERE for a free list of documents you*ll need to gather before applying.
5. What is an Irrevocable Trust and how can it help me?
Answer: Transfer of property into an Irrevocable Trust, sometimes called a transfer the interest into a Medicaid Trust, can sometimes protect that property form a long term care stay. One example is for your home, and a transfer of your home into such a Trust, reserving the right to live at the property for your lifetime and control the position of trustee of the trust, can, in some circumstances, remove that property as a :countable asset* when applying for Medicaid / MassHealth. This transfer would be subject to the five-year look-back. If done properly, and you are able to go for five years without needing MassHealth, then the transferred property could then be off-limits to MassHealth*s asset calculation. Further, downsizing the home part way through would not change anything.
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