Thursday, December 2, 2010

What is a Trust? What are the benefits?

A Trust is an agreement between a person who funds the Trust with assets (the Grantor) and the person who agrees to manage the assets (the Trustee) for the benefit of someone (the Beneficiary). Because a Trust is a private agreement it is not subject to probate when the Grantor dies and the Grantor can decide when and for whom the assets will benefit. Given this flexibility, a Trust is a popular way to manage assets and plan for succession. In some types of trusts, the Grantor can also be their own trustee. There are several different types of trusts. Each one is specifically designed to provide a certain benefit. These benefits can be asset protection, probate avoidance, tax savings etc.
There are several different types of trusts. Each one is specifically designed to provide a certain benefit. These benefits can be asset protection, probate avoidance, tax savings etc. Some popular types of trusts are the Revocable Living Trust which allows you to be your own trustee during your lifetime, change your trust as you desire and have assets avoid probate court upon your demise. A Credit Shelter Trust can be used to save estate taxes. An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust can be used to save taxes and provide asset protection. An Irrevocable Income Only Trust can be used to protect your home from a Medicaid lien. And a Charitable Remainder Trust that can be used to save income, estate and capital gains tax.

For more helpful info like this contact me, attorney Gerald J. Turner, at Orsi, Arone, Rothenberg, Iannuzzi & Turner, LLP.

160 Gould Street
Suite 320
Needham, MA 02494
(781) 239-8900 (phone)
(781) 239-8909 (fax)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2011 Medicare Info!

New Medicare Premium, Deductible and Co-Pay Charges for 2011

The basic premium for Medicare Part B will be $115.40 a month in 2011, up from $110.50 in 2010 (a 4.4 percent increase). But because there will be no cost of living benefit increase for Social Security recipients for 2011, most beneficiaries will be exempted from paying this increase and will instead pay the same $96.40 premium amount they have paid since 2008.

A "hold-harmless" provision in the Medicare law prohibits Part B premiums from rising more than that year's cost of living increase in Social Security benefits. Since there is no Social Security increase, most beneficiaries -- about 73 percent -- will not have to pay any increased Part B premiums because of the hold-harmless provision. Those covered by the provision will continue to pay Part B premiums of $96.40 per month in 2011.

But this hold-harmless protection does not apply to the other 27 percent of beneficiaries -- about 12 million in all -- who either:

•do not have their Part B premiums withheld from their Social Security checks, or
•pay a higher Part B premium surcharge based on high income (see below), or
•are newly enrolled in Part B.

All Medicare beneficiaries will be subject to the new deductibles and co-payments, as outlined below. Medicare Part B covers physician services as well as qualifying out-patient hospital care, durable medical equipment, and certain home health services, among other services.

Following are all the new Medicare figures for 2011:

•Basic Part B premium: $115.40/month
•Part B deductible: $162 (was $155)
•Part A deductible: $1,132 (was $1,100)
•Co-payment for hospital stay days 61-90: $283/day (was $275)
•Co-payment for hospital stay days 91 and beyond: $566/day (was $550)
•Skilled nursing facility co-payment, days 21-100: $141.50/day (was $137.50)

As directed by the 2003 Medicare law, higher-income beneficiaries will pay higher Part B premiums. Following are those amounts for 2011:

•Individuals with annual incomes between $85,000 and $107,000 and married couples with annual incomes between $170,000 and $214,000 will pay a monthly premium of $161.50.

•Individuals with annual incomes between $107,000 and $160,000 and married couples with annual incomes between $214,000 and $320,000 will pay a monthly premium of $230.70.

•Individuals with annual incomes between $160,000 and $214,000 and married couples with annual incomes between $320,000 and $428,000 will pay a monthly premium of $299.90.

•Individuals with annual incomes of $214,000 or more and married couples with annual incomes of $428,000 or more will pay a monthly premium of $369.10.

Rates differ for beneficiaries who are married but file a separate tax return from their spouse:

•Those with incomes between $85,000 and $129,000 will pay a monthly premium of $299.90.

•Those with incomes greater than $129,000 will pay a monthly premium of $369.10.

The Social Security Administration uses the income reported two years ago to determine a Part B beneficiary's premiums. So the income reported on a beneficiary's 2009 tax return is used to determine whether the beneficiary must pay a higher monthly Part B premium in 2011. Income is calculated by taking a beneficiary's adjusted gross income and adding back in some normally excluded income, such as tax-exempt interest, U.S. savings bond interest used to pay tuition, and certain income from foreign sources. This is called modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). If a beneficiary's MAGI decreased significantly in the past two years, she may request that information from more recent years be used to calculate the premium.

If you would like more information on how I can help you with figuring out your Medicare coverage and planning for the future, contact me, attorney Gerald J. Turner, at Orsi, Arone, Rothenberg, Iannuzzi & Turner, LLP.

160 Gould Street
Suite 320
Needham, MA 02494
(781) 239-8900 (phone)
(781) 239-8909 (fax)

Monday, November 8, 2010

IRS Issues Long-Term Care Premium Deductibility

Here is another interested article that I read in one of the associations that I belong to. I thought I would share with each of you:
IRS Issues Long-Term Care Premium Deductibility Limits for 2011

Social Security benefits may be stagnant, but the IRS is increasing the amount you can deduct on your 2011 taxes as a result of buying long-term care insurance.

Premiums for "qualified" long-term care insurance policies (see explanation below) are tax deductible provided that they, along with other unreimbursed medical expenses, exceed 7.5 percent of the insured's adjusted gross income. These premiums -- what the policyholder pays the insurance company to keep the policy in force -- are deductible for the taxpayer, his or her spouse and other dependents. (If you are self-employed, the tax-deductibility rules are a little different: You can take the amount of the premium as a deduction as long as you made a net profit; your medical expenses do not have to exceed 7.5 percent of your income.)

However, there is a limit on how large a premium can be deducted, depending on the age of the taxpayer at the end of the year. Following are the deductibility limits for 2011. Any premium amounts for the year above these limits are not considered to be a medical expense.

Attained age before the close of the taxable year Maximum deduction for year

40 or less $340

More than 40 but not more than 50 $640

More than 50 but not more than 60 $1,270

More than 60 but not more than 70 $3,390

More than 70 $4,240

What Is a "Qualified" Policy?

To be "qualified," policies issued on or after January 1, 1997, must adhere to certain requirements, among them that the policy must offer the consumer the options of "inflation" and "nonforfeiture" protection, although the consumer can choose not to purchase these features. Policies purchased before January 1, 1997, will be grandfathered and treated as "qualified" as long as they have been approved by the insurance commissioner of the state in which they are sold.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

False Assessments in Medicare Dispute

 I've noticed how more and more cases arise concerning individuals losing Medicare support because they haven't planned ahead and lack the help of an attorney. Wanda Papciak, an 81 year old woman, was receiving Medicare support in a skilled nursing facility after her hip surgery. She was then falsely assessed by an agency who claimed she no longer needed the skilled support and was placed in custodial care, cutting off her Medicare financial support. Eventually after an appeal to the federal district court, it was declared that Miss Papciak was not considered for a long term support plan by the Medicare agency and needed more time under skilled nursing facility rehabilitation.

Whenever a person is denied Medicare because a lack of skilled care is needed, the patient (or their representative) must receive notice and an opportunity for a fair hearing. If you believe a loved one still needs skill care, it is important not to miss this opportunity to appeal to a fair hearing. The assistance of a qualified elder law attorney can be very helpful in this situation. If you would like more information on how I can help you plan to prevent this from happening to you or your loved ones, contact me, attorney Gerald J. Turner, at Orsi, Arone, Rothenberg, Iannuzzi & Turner, LLP.

160 Gould Street
Suite 320
Needham, MA 02494
(781) 239-8900 (phone)
(781) 239-8909 (fax)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why Estate Planning is Crucial when it comes to Marriage...

In a recent trade publication I subscribe to, a colleague of mine shared his views on estate planning for those who may walk down the aisle more than once. Assets between both parties involved need to be determined through a premarital agreement in order to avoid future conflict. There are countless details to consider when dealing with estate planning: everything from the residency of children to rules of the house, should the marriage fail.

I believe follow through on the attorney's end is incredibly important to the premarital process. Title changes of assets and many other things needed to be handled by the attorney after the exchange of vows to ensure that everything is accurate and in writing.

Premarital agreements, a power of attorney, or even a Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP)
may seem rather overwhelming, but all these factors need to be considered nonetheless. Do you need someone who is reliable and more than capable of handling your estate planning? Maybe not only an attorney, but one who happens to be a CPA for the commonwealth of Massachusetts? Then please contact attorney Gerald J. Turner at Orsi, Arone, Rothenberg, Iannuzzi & Turner, LLP.

160 Gould Street
Suite 320
Needham, MA 02494
(781) 239-8900 (phone)
(781) 239-8909 (fax)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why you should speak to an Elder Law Attorney...

There has been a long standing rule that one cannot give their assets away and shortly thereafter receive Medicaid assistance. There are, however, exceptions to that rule. One of these exceptions is called the care taker child exception. This exception generally allowed a parent to give their home to a child that lived with that parent for two years; took care of that parent during that time and but for that child's care, the parent would have needed nursing home care much sooner. In the recent case of Maguire v. Dehner, the rules of the "Caretaker Child Exception" highlighted just how strict Medicaid has become. A hearing officer ruled that the family's description of assistance was neither sufficient enough to require Medicaid support for nursing home benefits, nor did it justify Reta Maguire passing her residence over to her daughter. Even with an appeal to the Superior Court of Massachusetts and a call for an acknowledgement for this "error of law," the Maguire family lost their fight against the strict rules and regulations of Medicaid. While the caretaker child exception is still available, one must be absolutely certain to follow the Medicaid regulations exactly and seek the help of a qualified elderlaw attorney. If you would like more information regarding Medicaid, elderlaw or estate planning. Please contact attorney Gerald J. Turner at Orsi, Arone, Rothenberg, Iannuzzi & Turner, LLP

160 Gould Street

Suite 320

Needham, MA 02494

(781) 239-8900 (phone)

(781) 239-8909 (fax)


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Your golden ticket to safety and security

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     As you explore my blog, you may still be wondering what it is that I do. Yes, I am an attorney specializing in the areas of elder law, tax law, Medicaid planning, and estate planning; however, what does that REALLY mean?

Some examples…

  • I protect your family from excess taxes, attorney fees, court fees time and delays that can occure upon your passing.
  • I help make sure that what you’ve worked a life time building goes towards your family in a tax efficient maner without excess time and court fees.
  •  I protect your children's inheritance from inlaws and make sure your legacy continues down your bloodline.
  •  I help you leave a legacy to your loved ones with asset protection from lawsuit creditors.
  • I make sure that after you are gone that your spouse gets the assets, but if your spouse is remarried the assets go to your children.
     As an attorney, I find personalized legal services to be very important. I can assure that I have a unique and comprehensive system that takes a customized approach to achieving the right results. Every way of reaching the desired result is unique to the client. Do not be fooled by the idea that legal documents alone can accomplish your goals. In fact, many people have tax, probate or other legal risks that they aren't even aware of. Our unique approach to your legal needs starts with counseling. We learn about you, your family, your estate and your goals. Next we inform you of the risks associated with your estate and the solutions to provide the results your are seeking. We don't try to fit you into our plan. We customize a plan that fits you and your family. Are legal services unaffordable? If anything, the money invested into establishing a sound estate plan will certainly benefit your family in many ways. For most clients the investment in a sound estate plan is just a small fraction of what their family will really pay without one.

    Using the services of an attorney is important. It is equally important to use an attorney that has the skills in the area of law that seeking help with. In many ways, attorneys are like doctors. There are attorneys that have general practices and there are those who focus their knowledge and skills in one specific area. Would you want a real estate attorney handling a criminal matter for you? Of course not. The same is true with elderlaw and estate planning. You worked a lifetime building an estate and you only have one chance to get it right when you become ill or pass. Don't trust a generalist to perform a very complext and important task. My area of practice is limited to estate planning and elderlaw. On top of all of that, I come with an added bonus; I am also a CPA. Today, not many elder law attorneys have the added benefit of also being a CPA. Why should that matter to you? When you apply for Medicaid, a three year audit is done. Since I am a CPA, my team is very good at preparing packages that leave a trail for the medicaid audit. This helps your claim for benefits get processed without confusion. I understand exactly what they are looking for and how to present it to them. What about taxes? The way you leave your estate to your loved ones can have tremendous tax results. In planning your estate you must consider, income tax, capital gain tax, estate tax, gernation skipping  transfer tax and the combined result of all taxes together. My skills as an attorney and a CPA help me advise you accordingly.

    In addition to our estate and elderlaw practices my firm offers a full range of legal serivices from Tax Law to Family Law to Litigation and Commercial Real Estate. This gives you the combined benefits of a team of attorneys that focuse on your area of law with the resources and support of entire law firm that can help you with other needs as they arise. With all sincerity, I assure that you will not regret trusting me. The protection I will provide you and your family with will be proven through my relentless efforts to bring forth the best service possible to each and every one of my clients.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What is gifting?

     Last post, I discussed one of the three common estate plans: NOT having a plan. However, this is not the case for all individuals out there. Another popular estate plan is known as “Gifting”. Just like I created a scenario for individuals without a plan in my last post, today I will review the process of gifting.

And so we begin…

     A widower with three children, Sam heard he can protect his assets if he gives them away. As a result, he decided to change the title of his assets to his oldest daughter Carol. Sam and Carol have a verbal understanding that the assets are really his, but Carol will have the legal title. Sam lives in the house he gave to Carol, and Carol lives in her own home with her husband.

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     While Sam is alive and well, he no longer has control over his assets since they are not legally his. In the event that he gets sued, his assets are not exposed because he technically has none. However, if Carol gets sued Sam’s assets are exposed because she has the legal title. Also, if carol gets divorced Sam’s assets become exposed.

     As he has aged, Sam is swept with a catastrophic illness and moves into Stage Two. Fortunately, Sam gave his assets away to Carol over five years ago so he is immediately qualified for Medicaid. If Sam gave his assets away less than five years before applying for Medicaid, Carol would have to give some or all of the assets back to Sam to pay for his care during the disqualification period. Because Sam did not have a Health Care Proxy or Durable Power of Attorney, a problem arose. For those of you unaware of what a Health Care Proxy is, it is the designation of decision making to another person if you are unable to make the decisions yourself. On the other hand, the Durable Power of Attorney is important in relation to Medicaid because it allows another person to act on your behalf when any legal decisions arise.

     Confused at what to do next, Carol went to an estate planning attorney for help. The attorney petitioned the probate court to have Sam declared legally incompetent (such an action would appoint Carol with the decision making powers). Eventually, Carol was appointed as Joe’s guardian for financial matters. Sam’s condition worsened, and the doctor informed Carol that Sam is in a persistent vegetative state and is highly unlikely to recover to resume a normal life.

     Now we have reached a point of conflict; there is disagreement amongst the children over Sam’s future. Carol’s brother believes his father would want to stay alive. Carol and her other brother think Sam would have wanted to terminate life support. As the siblings argue over who has the authority to make health care decisions for Sam, Sam is being kept alive.

     Upon his death, there was no probate since Sam had no assets. Now in Stage Three Carol sold the house that Sam gave her and liquidated all of his accounts. When Sam gave Carol the house, he also gave her his tax bases in the house. He purchased the house many years ago for $100,000. It is now worth $400,000. When Carol sold the house she paid capital gains tax at a rate of 20% (combined state and federal rate) or $60,000.

     As a result, Carol made gifts to her two brothers. Since she made gifts of over $12,000 in a year, she is now exposed to a gift tax at a rate of 50%.

     To have avoided the confusion over who had legal decision making authority, it would have been wise for Sam to plan his estate. The benefits of avoiding the disorganization described above can be achieved through the establishment of a trust or will.

    To learn more information about setting up a trust or will, contact Gerald Turner at 781-239-8900 or email at

Monday, June 7, 2010

What happens to your estate when you do not have a plan?

     For those of you who do not follow generalized examples, I have created a scenario that could very well happen to any individual out there if he or she does not plan his or her estate.

     To start off, I would like to remind you of the four stages of estate planning:
     Stage One: Alive and Well
     Stage Two: Catastrophic Illness
     Stage Three: Death
     Stage Four: Beyond Death

     To provide you with some background information, Joe and Mary are married with three children and have never been concerned about planning, so they have done nothing about it.

     In effect, during the First Stage of estate planning Joe and Mary have control over their assets without needing permission from anyone; however, if they get sued their assets are exposed. If any of their children get divorced or sued, the assets remain unaffected.

     Eventually, Joe got sick and had to go to a skilled nursing facility, moving the couple into Stage Two. As a result of Joe’s sickness, Mary had no access or control over Joe’s IRA, 401 (K) and personal savings account. She was also told that a lien would be placed on their home if it is not taken out of Joe’s name.

     Now, the family assets remain unprotected and Mary is spending $10,000 per month for Joe’s care. Mary realized she needed help so she went to a Medicaid planning attorney.

     Due to Joe’s illness, the attorney petitioned the probate court to have Joe declared legally incompetent. In effect, Mary was eventually appointed as Joe’s guardian. Before meeting with the attorney Mary had to pay privately for Joe’s care for several months at $8,000.00 to $10,000 a month. In addition, Mary had to pay the attorney for his time, advice, AND the Probate court proceeding on top of court fees! In total, she lost around $70,000 during the entire process.

     Eventually, Joe passed away which put Mary in Stage Three of estate planning. Since the assets were in Mary’s name, there was no probate upon Joe’s death. Mary lived for several years longer than Joe; however, she too passed away. Since the assets were in Mary’s name upon her death, there was a probate hearing preceding her death. The process took OVER a year. Since neither Joe nor Mary had trusts with estate tax provisions, some of Mary’s assets were exposed to estate taxes at a rate of 50%! The taxes MUST be paid within nine months of Mary’s death. Furthermore, Joe and Mary did NOT have life insurance because they did not believe in it.

     Now, Joe and Mary’s three children were left to deal with the sticky situation. How do they pay the estate tax with no liquid assets? With the delays of probate, the children decided that they had to liquidate Mary’s IRA in order to pay estate taxes. When the children took the money out of Mary’s IRA they had to pay income taxes at a rate of 30% (in order to pay the 50% estate tax).

     The end result of the entire process: unnecessary probate attorney fees, court fees, taxes, AND delays.

What’s the moral of the story?

     When it comes to estate planning, it is very important to make sure you are prepared for the future. The process will be made much simpler if it is done before the problem arises; that way, you do not have to worry about how your assets will be protected, who will protect them, and where will they go.

     If you are interested in learning more about estate planning and would like to set an appointment, you may contact Gerald Turner either at 781-239-8900 or

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