Middlesex & Worcester County Elder Law Lawyer
According to ABA Journal, when you consider the declining birthrates, longer lifespans, and the baby boomer generation becoming senior citizens, the United States is set to become much “grayer” over the next few decades. In fact, it is projected that for the first time in American history, there will be more adults over the age of 65 than children by 2035—a mere 15 years away. This increase in an elderly population has also increased the demand for elder law attorneys—attorneys who have an understanding of the unique aspects involved in planning for the elderly.
While estate planning is important for those of all ages, it is essential for those over the age of 60. There are fundamental planning issues, particularly those concerning long-term care and Medicaid eligibility, which are difficult or impossible to take care of at the last minute—when it becomes necessary. Having an experienced elder care attorney who can discuss these issues and answer your questions in a knowledgeable manner is crucial for your future. James A. Miller has the experience necessary to guide you through the decisions you need to make about your future in a way that makes the process as stress-free as possible for you and your family.
What is Elder Law?
The practice of elder law includes such issues as:
- Overall estate planning;
- Preparing a will or trust;
- Long-term care planning;
- Probate issues;
- Special needs trusts;
- Disability trusts;
- Medicaid eligibility;
- Guardianship issues;
- Inheritance disputes, and
In many ways, elder law can be considered a sub-specialty of estate planning, which allows elderly individuals and their families to comprehensively plan for long-term care, healthcare, retiree benefits, Medicare and Medicaid coverage, home care, and nursing home care. There are many decisions that need to be made—decisions that can be significantly facilitated with the assistance of an experienced elder law attorney from the Law Offices of James A. Miller.
At What Age Should You Contact an Elder Law Attorney?
If you are in your seventies or eighties, it is not too late to meet with an elder law attorney and do some planning for your future. While it will almost certainly be more challenging, it can still be done, so if you find yourself in that situation, do not simply decide it is too late. That being said, it is certainly easier to plan for your future when you are a bit younger. While there is no right or wrong age, it is generally recommended that you start the planning process by the age of 60. The longer you wait, the higher your risk of losing the capacity to engage in the planning process because of health issues.
What Preparations Should You Make Prior to Meeting with an Elder Law Attorney?
If you have made the decision to meet with a Massachusetts elder law attorney—congratulations on taking this important first step. To ensure you have the most productive meeting possible, there are certain preparations you can make prior to your first meeting, as well as certain steps you can take on your own to make the meeting as constructive as possible. You will first want to identify all the areas you want to plan for. You may want a total, comprehensive plan that addresses all aspects of your future and covers virtually every conceivable situation.
You may want to start with nothing more than a simple will, or your biggest concern could be managing your assets now to ensure you are able to take advantage of Medicaid benefits for nursing home care should the necessity arise. Make a list of the issues you want to discuss, as well as any questions you may have regarding those issues. Bring along any documents which you think your attorney could find useful at this first meeting. The more organized and prepared you are, the better your attorney can help you get exactly what you need and want when planning for your future.
Should I Plan My Estate to Avoid Probate?
Most of us have heard at one time or another in our adult life things that make us believe we want to avoid probate at all cost. Probate is the legal process under which a person’s assets are distributed according to their estate plan. If there is no estate plan in place, probate will still be required, however, the state of Massachusetts will determine how the assets of the deceased will be distributed, according to Massachusetts intestate law. The reasons for avoiding probate can generally be summarized in three words—time, money, and privacy.
The probate process can be time-consuming since it is controlled by the courts. While probate can theoretically be accomplished in twelve months (for a simple estate), it is more likely to take eighteen months to two to three years, depending on the complexity of the estate. Probate can be expensive when you add in court probate fees, along with the fees paid to the executor of the estate. Finally, probate is a public process—all of the documents and information used in the probate process become public record, open to anyone who has an interest. You will want to discuss your situation with your estate planning attorney to determine whether you will try to avoid probate or not.
What About Massachusetts Estate Taxes?
The state of Massachusetts is one of 12 states in the United States that collects a state estate tax. These estate tax laws can be difficult to navigate for those left behind. Rather than taxing on the value of an estate above a certain threshold, the state of Massachusetts taxes estates with values at a much lower threshold than the other states which do have a state estate tax. The state collects taxes prior to any assets being passed to a beneficiary any time the estate is worth more than the $1 million exemption amount. Massachusetts estate taxes apply to the entire value of the estate rather than the portion above the $1 million exemption threshold; any value over $40,000 is taxed, without exception. Because there are numerous issues associated with Massachusetts estate taxes, you should consult an experienced estate planning attorney.
How the Law Offices of James A. Miller, P.C., Can Help You Plan for the Future
If you are approaching the age of sixty—or even if you are older than sixty, it is extremely important that you take the time to plan for certain eventualities. Of course, we all hope we never end up in a nursing home or assisted living facility. That being said, many of us will. To ensure you remain eligible for Medicaid benefits should that time come, planning for the future is crucial. There are many aspects to elder law, and Attorney James A. Miller can assist you with all of them. When you meet with James, he will take the time to answer your questions and ensure he has all the information necessary to help you make the decisions for your future. Contact the Law Offices of James A. Miller today for all your eldercare needs.