What is an ABLE account?
The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act allows individuals whose disability occurred prior to age 26 to place up to $17,000 per year into a special savings account. There is no limitation on the number of individuals who can contribute to the account, but the disabled beneficiary may have only one account. Funds in an ABLE account will not be counted in determining the disabled person’s eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) unless the account exceeds $100,000. Upon the death of an ABLE account holder, Medicaid may require reimbursement from the account for services provided after the disabled individual established the account.
I’m worried about what will happen to my pets if I become incapacitated or die. Is there anything I can do?
It is legal in Massachusetts to set up a trust for the benefit of a pet. A pet trust is a legally enforceable fiduciary arrangement that provides for the care and maintenance of one or more pets in the event of the owner’s disability or death. It allows the owner to provide instructions for pet care and to direct the management and disbursements of trust funds on the pet’s behalf. It may be created during lifetime or by provision in a will. If the trustee is not the one appointed by the trust to care for the pet, a separate caretaker or “pet guardian” may be appointed. In addition, a separate “trust protector” may also be appointed as an additional check to ensure that the trust purposes are carried out.
What is probate?
Probate is a legal process that transfers ownership of property from a person who has died to lawful beneficiaries or beneficiaries of a will. In most cases, the court appoints a Personal Representative (formerly referred to as an Executor or Executrix) to collect, manage, and transfer estate property.
Is probate always necessary?
No. Typically, it is not necessary to probate an estate where the decedent’s property passed to beneficiaries by other means, such as through account beneficiary designations, rights of survivorship on jointly held property, or by living trust.
When is probate required?
Probate can be required in a number of situations, including where there is any question concerning the validity of a decedent’s will, to change title to assets, to pay creditors of the decedent, to obtain the decedent’s medical records, or when the size of the estate is sufficiently large to be taxed.
How long does probate take?
There is a relatively speedy process (called “voluntary administration”) for estates consisting entirely of personal property valued at $25,000 or less, excluding the value of any vehicle. Barring this expedited process, the probate of a will takes approximately 1 to 2 years.
MassHealth denied my spouse’s application for nursing home benefits. What can I do?
Initial denials can be overcome in some instances by providing additional information. In other instances, it is necessary to challenge a denial at an administrative “fair hearing,” in which you have the right to present evidence and make legal arguments.
MassHealth denied my spouse’s application for nursing home benefits after a fair hearing. What can I do?
State administrative law provides that applicants may seek appellate relief in the Superior Court, and if need be, the Appeals Court and the Supreme Judicial Court, the Commonwealth’s highest court.
What types of appeals do you handle?
Our office handles all manner of civil, criminal, and administrative law appeals.
How can I protect the equity in my home from creditors?
Massachusetts offers an automatic statutory “homestead” exemption of $125,000 from the claims of creditors. By filing a “Declaration of Homestead” with the Registry of Deeds, this protection can be increased to $500,000 per family. The elderly and disabled are entitled to even more protection. If two owners qualify for elderly or disabled homestead protection, the aggregate protection on the home can be increased to $1,000,000. Note that statutory homestead protection does not protect a home from claims by MassHealth for reimbursement of nursing home costs.