Legal Guides

We have created the following in-depth Legal Guides to provide you a better understanding of these important and often complex legal issues.

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Many factors, including illness, incapacity, the loss of a job, or a premature death, can upset even the best financial plan. Fortunately, planning steps can provide considerable protection from these uncertainties of life.

Learn how to protect your assets in the event you or a spouse needs long-term care, and learn techniques to protect what you leave your children and grandchildren.

All of this, and more, in Margolis Bloom & D’Agostino’s White Paper on Asset Protection for Seniors.

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For all practical purposes, in the United States the only “insurance” plan for long-term institutional care is Medicaid (called “MassHealth” in Massachusetts).

Medicaid only pays for just 23 percent of long-term care costs in the United States. Private insurance pays for even less. The result is that most people pay out of their own pockets for long-term care until they become eligible for MassHealth.

While Medicare is an entitlement program, MassHealth is a form of welfare — or at least that’s how it began. So to be eligible, you must become “impoverished” under the program’s guidelines.

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While very few people are subject to a federal estate tax, which only applies to estates exceeding $11.58 million (2020), many more are subject to the Massachusetts estate tax which applies to estates over $1 million. While the Massachusetts estate tax rate is not nearly as high as the federal rate, which starts at 40%, many clients still prefer to take steps to reduce or eliminate the estate tax their heirs will have to pay.

Learn more about the Massachusetts estate tax, and the strategies you can take to reduce or eliminate your estate tax burden here, in Margolis Bloom & D’Agostino’s Primer on the Massachusetts Estate Tax.

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Structured settlements are tax advantaged annuities purchased from the proceeds of personal injury settlements that are often used to facilitate resolution of lawsuits. 

Like other financial tools they can be quite beneficial in some circumstances and detrimental in others.

This legal guide explains the pros and cons of structured settlements and the circumstances under which they provide the greatest benefit.

Unfortunately, they are often presented to personal injury victims during lengthy settlement negotiations, giving them little opportunity to evaluate the offerings in terms of their consequences on public benefits, the need for future funds, its investment return, or other alternatives. 

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The hospitalization of a family member can be an extremely stressful time. It has become a truism that hospitals attempt to discharge patients “quicker and sicker.”

In this legal guide, Attorney Harry S. Margolis explains how to reduce the level of pressure by using the medicare rules to get more time to talk to doctors, set up care at home, or choose the most appropriate placement in a rehabilitation hospital or skilled nursing facility.  

Fortunately, both federal and state laws provide protections that patients and their families can use to challenge a premature discharge or simply to delay the discharge by the day or two the family needs.

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Immediate annuities have long been used in long-term care planning as a means of converting assets that are countable against the limits for MassHealth eligibility into an income stream that does affect eligibility.

This approach primarily benefits spouses of nursing home residents, but can be used for single nursing home residents as a form of “arbitrage,” in effect to pay the MassHealth rates rather than the private-pay rates charged by nursing homes.

The rules governing the use of annuities in long-term care planning are complex. For more information on MassHealth rules regarding nursing home residents and annuities, please request our complimentary legal guide.

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In the United States the only “insurance” plan for long-term institutional care is Medicaid (called “MassHealth” in Massachusetts).  Medicare only pays for approximately 20 percent of nursing home care in the United States.  Private insurance pays for even less. 

The result is that most people pay out of their own pockets for long-term care until they become eligible for MassHealth.  While Medicare is an entitlement program, MassHealth is a form of welfare — or at least that’s how it began.  So to be eligible, you must become “impoverished” under the program’s guidelines.

Despite the costs, there are advantages to paying privately for nursing home care. The foremost is that it will make it easier to gain entrance to a better-quality facility. The obvious disadvantage is the expense. In Massachusetts, nursing home fees can be as high as $20,000 a month. 

To find out if MassHealth’s nursing benefits are the right thing for you or your loved ones or if you meet the MassHealth asset guidelines to qualify for nursing home benefits please request our “MassHealth Planning and Real Estate” legal guide.

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Contemplating the fact that we will not live forever is especially fraught for parents of children with special needs. Properly executed documents can determine how your money is distributed and help you protect your special needs offspring when we are gone. Below are some of the estate-planning tools to consider. A qualified attorney who is knowledgeable in disability laws and government benefits should prepare these, but your basic knowledge of these tools will be helpful in understanding and implementing your options.

Learn more by downloading Margolis Bloom & D’Agostino’s Special Needs Planning Guide: Putting the Structure in Place for Your Child and Yourself.

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