I “Trust” you “Will” have a Great Summer!

Family reunions, barbeque’s, baseball games, beach, fun and sun: you know it’s summer! Some of my fondest memories growing up were sharing time with friends and family. Family, I believe, is the glue that hold people together. One of the driving forces for me to become an estate planning attorney was to keep families and their hard earned life savings intact.

Before becoming an elder law attorney, I was a certified financial planner. I saw several families lose everything to the cost of nursing home care. I saw first hand the devastation this had and the hopelessness it created. It doesn’t have to be this way. All you need to do is a little strategic planning ahead of time with a qualified elder law attorney. They are experts in this field.

So, this summer when you’re having that backyard cookout and enjoying a delicious cocktail, think about what’s really important to you. If it’s family, then make sure you have your estate planning documents in place!

Elder Law Attorney Romano practices Estate Planning, Medicaid Planning and Asset Protection. He regularly conducts “Estate Planning Essentials” workshops. Call us today at (617) 769-9843 to see how we can help your family.


Happy Father’s Day

Attend an “Estate Planning Essentials” Workshop

What are some of the great lessons your Dad taught you? I’m not talking about throwing a ball or teaching you to drive, though those were important things to learn. How about responsibility, being a good citizen, helping others, giving back to your community, and being a good role model? There are so many intangibles that have influenced your life. This month we celebrate Father’s Day. What a great day to appreciate your Dad and reflect on the sacrifices that were made to get you to where you are today!

Dad and Mom worked hard to “put food on the table and clothes on your back”. Along the way, they accumulated some assets, a house; savings, life insurance, cars, etc. Do you know if they are protected should they need long term care? With nursing home costs at $10,000 or more a month, it might not take too long to deplete what they’ve spent a lifetime acquiring. There are ways to ensure this doesn’t happen. Give Dad (and Mom) the gift of a free estate planning workshop. It’s another way you can say thanks for all they’ve done for you. Upcoming workshops:

Wednesday, June 20th from 10:00am-12:00pm at the Quincy Council on Aging-Kennedy Center, 440 East Squantum Street, Quincy

Monday, June 25th from 1:00pm-3:00pm at the Kingston Council on Aging, 30 Evergreen Street, Kingston

Call to reserve your seats today or sign-up under the workshops tab above! 617-769-9843




HIPAA-dee-doo-dah HIPAA-dee-ay

Should you have a HIPAA authorization form?

It starts out as a typical Tuesday. Lou has gotten up and the coffee is ready. He has the Wheaties with raisins set for Betty and a nice blueberry muffin for him. They have plans to go to church and then visit with friends. They’ve been retired for almost 20 years, and besides the typical ailments, they are doing fine.  They are still in their South Shore home, but their three kids, Mary Beth, David and Mark, have settled elsewhere.

HIPAA Protects Your Medical History

It starts out as a typical Tuesday for Mary Beth. too. Her husband has left for work. She gets the kids their breakfast, packs their lunches and drops them off at the Y camp on her way to work. Mary Beth calls her parents frequently to “check in.” Being in Virginia was a great move for the family, but she wishes she lived closer to her parents.

The day for Lou, Betty, and Mary Beth turns out to be anything but typical. Mary Beth gets the call from Dad that Mom has fallen. She is on her way to the hospital. Dad is upset and overwhelmed. Their worlds have come to a screeching halt. Mary Beth assures her Dad she will call the hospital and get an update. If Mary Beth was your daughter, would the hospital give her information on your condition?

Since Lou and Betty had a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) form designating each other and their three children as their HIPAA agents, the hospital would be able to share information with them. This form authorizes the HIPAA agent(s) to get information relating to their medical condition. Without it, the hospital can’t release any patient information. Mary Beth just emailed a copy to the admitting desk and was able to get an update for Dad. Mom broke her arm and was bruised. She was OK and would be released in a couple hours.

If the unexpected happens, are you prepared? The HIPAA authorization is just one of several estate planning documents that once completed can give you peace of mind. If you’re prepared, “my oh my what a wonderful day!”

Elder Law Attorney Romano practices Estate Planning and Medicaid Planning. For a list of his FREE upcoming “Estate Planning Essentials” workshops, go to the workshops tab above.

In the U.S. an estimated 5.4 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease

Are Your Legal Documents In Order?                                                                                How can anyone know the true devastation of Alzheimer’s unless you have had a loved one affected by the disease? In Massachusetts, there are 120,000 people aged 65 and older with Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, they expect that number to grow 17% by the year 2025. The need to plan while you are well and able becomesmore significant as we age.

The financial and emotional implications of becoming disabled before dying can have a profound effect on one’s family. It’s hard enough to see a loved one decline but wondering if you can afford to get them the care they need may be even more stressful. Estate planning attorneys can help you protect your assets and plan for what you hope won’t happen. In the United States, someone develops the disease every 69 seconds. None of us can be certain it won’t happen to us.

John and Karen had been married for over 40 years when John started to notice some changes in his wife’s behavior. They were subtle at first and they chalked them up to “senior moments”. She would get confused while cooking. She began to have trouble with simple math. (Karen had been an expert at calculating the discount at Macy’s in her head!) But, when she started wearing heavy clothes in the warm weather and accused the cleaning lady of taking things, he knew it was something more. And so the next chapter of their lives began.

Fortunately, they had planned ahead. They had their Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Living Will, and Irrevocable Trust prepared by an Elder Law attorney years before.  They had peace of mind that their legal documents were in order. John also knew, if and when he could no longer care for Karen, that their assets were protected from the nursing home.

An Elder Law attorney has the expertise to counsel seniors and their families on how best to plan ahead, with a primary emphasis on promoting the highest quality of life for individuals. For more information on Alzheimer’s visit http://www.alz.org/

Where There’s A Will, There’s A Wait!

Unless You Create a Clear Plan

Many people believe that if they have a will, their heirs will not have to go through probate. Actually, the opposite is true. Probate is the legal process of proving that your will is valid. Probate generally involves both attorney fees and court fees.

People also believe that if they have a will, the distribution of their assets will proceed smoothly. This can be true, with the process taking as little as six months if all goes well. However, if there any problems, it can drag on for years. It just takes one disgruntled heir to contest a will. Then, all bets are off. Besides the time delay, the added costs can add up quickly. Nobody wants their money unnecessarily going to attorney fee’s instead of their loved ones.

If you created a will 20 years ago, you really should review it. A 20-year-old will might not represent your thoughts today. You need to make sure your will is tailored to meet all of your current needs and wishes.

Here’s an example. Rose, 78 and a widower, lived in a nice house down on the Cape. She paid off the mortgage years ago and lived on Social Security, a pension from the telephone company and an annuity.

Rose had a will that left everything to her three children equally. All “great” kids who got along. Billy lived in Maryland, Linda in Chicago and Bobby in Quincy. When Rose passed away, Billy and Linda wanted to sell the house. They had kids in college and the money could help with tuition. But Bobby said, “No way!” He had spent vacations and weekends with his kids visiting Mom at her Cape house. According to Bobby, Mom said the house would always go to him. He was the only one who enjoyed the house as much as she did.

Can you imagine the problems and legal bills that could ensue? Did Rose really want her children fighting over a piece of property?

Unfortunately, this type of scenario happens all the time. Mom had good intentions, but her 20-year-old will did not have everything spelled out. Rose could have had a trust, either a revocable or an irrevocable trust, to avoid probate. The trust also would have stated exactly what she wanted done in great detail. For instance, she could have said, the house goes to my three children equally, but, Bobby has the right of first refusal to purchase the house. As an alternative, she could have stated Bobby will get the house and the remaining assets would be divided between Billy and Linda, or whatever other wishes she decided on. Rose also could have decided these things ahead of time and shared her wishes with her children. Although Rose could have included these wishes in her will, just having a will would still require the children to go through the probate process.

Make sure you have the estate planning documents you need so your wishes will be carried out without any problems, unnecessary costs or delay.


Does an “I Love You Will” really show your true affection?

A will is a legal document that lets you tell the world who should receive your assets after your death. An “I Love You” will basically states, I leave everything to my spouse first and then to our children equally. In real life this type of will can become anything but loving.

Marge and Walter have three wonderful children, Beth, Dave and Mark. Beth lives locally and helps mom and dad out all the time. Dave and Mark live out of state. Other than a visit or two a year, they are not involved in mom and dad’s daily life.

Marge and Walter have a cottage down the Cape, in addition to their primary home,. Beth and her family look forward to weekend visits in the summer. Her children feel like it’s their summer home because they spent so much time there with Nana and Grandpa. Due to distance and their own busy lives, Dave and Mark haven’t been to the cottage since they were little.

If Marge and Walter had an I Love You will, what do think would happen to the Cape cottage, after they both pass?  Beth would want to continue to use the cottage. She might even feel like the cottage should be hers. Dave and Mark do not want the cottage and could really use the money. Would mom and dad want their children fighting over the cottage or at the very least have bad feelings amongst them? What happens to the primary residence as well?

There are alternatives to an “I Love You” will. An experienced estate planning attorney can explain your options and counsel you on how to best achieve you wishes. Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Plan your Estate and your wishes will come True.

“Tomorrowitis!” – Don’t Procrastinate on Your Estate Planning

You know you should do your estate planning. You know it’s important to protect your assets. You hear it on the radio, from friends, at church, in the AARP magazine. You’ll do it…but it’s snowing out, it’s raining out, the summer’s here, the holidays are coming, etc. Before you realize it, another year has passed. You have what I call, “tomorrowitis.”

The symptoms include but are not limited to, the ability to procrastinate, illogical reasoning that you’ll actually do it tomorrow, mental paralysis due to anxiety about not having your affairs in order, and the belief that you’ll never have to go to a nursing home. There are remedies to this condition that will give you peace of mind. A check-up with an elder law attorney should be your first course of action. Don’t worry; it’ll be a painless visit.

If you think you have tomorrowitis or know of someone who suffers from this condition consider the following:

  1. The cost of a nursing home can be $8,000 to $12,000 per month.
  2. In Massachusetts a lien may be placed on the home to recover any nursing home costs.
  3. There is a full 60 month look-back period when applying for MassHealth (Medicaid). When an application is submitted to MassHealth, any transfer of resources or assets are investigated for the prior 5 years. This is referred to as the “look-back period.”
  4. In order to qualify for MassHealth coverage of nursing home care, countable assets must be under a certain limit.  For a single individual, that limit is $2,000.00.

The best medicine for tomorrowitis is to consult a Medicaid planning attorney. Have your situation looked at and with proper care, you won’t end up in the emergency room in crisis.