Life Becomes More Complicated, a column authored by Attorney Michael Hooker is a wealth of information. He covers everything from living wills to nursing home costs. We are happy to provide copies of his articles here.

 

Article from Gazette Financial Guide January 2020

The $15,000 figure is a number that many people are familiar with, and yet, it is one of the most commonly misconstrued concepts of estate planning and elder law. Time and time again I hear “my accountant said the IRS lets me transfer/gift $15,000 per year.” That is true, but I say, so what? What is the REASON for doing that?

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If you have spent any time in the court system you know that it is a hugely inefficient, time consuming and costly proposition. It doesn’t matter whether it is housing court, criminal court, district court or state or Federal court. It is often “hurry up and wait”. My elder law practice therefore devotes a fair degree of time and effort into avoiding court. The relevant court in my field is Hampshire Probate which recently moved from next to the Calvin Theatre to down near the Exit 18 ramp where the Clarion Hotel used to be.

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Many of you may know that Medicare does not pay for long term care costs. It only pays for short term rehab. What about Medicaid aka Masshealth? That agency only pays for your care if you are single, have less than $2,000 and have not made substantial gifts during the preceding five years. If you are married, Medicaid allows the spouse in the home to retain a house and up to $126,000 in savings. Everything above that (including your condo on the Cape) is exposed to care costs.

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For those of you who have read past columns, you know that a Power of Attorney authorizing a person to manage your money while you are alive is often more important than signing a Will.

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