Four Questions to Help You Choose the Right Professional Trustee for Your Special Needs Trust

Parents or other family members establishing a special needs trust for their disabled family member often want to name a professional — usually a bank, trust company, attorney, certified public accountant or non-profit — as one of the trustees of the trust in order to take advantage of that individual’s experience with investments, money management, and tax planning. The professional trustee can also be a great option for families looking for a “disinterested party” to provide a counterweight to a family trustee who may be much more familiar, and much more emotionally invested, in the beneficiary’s day-to-day life. If your family member is about to receive a large cash settlement, hiring a professional trustee may even be essential in order to preserve and manage the trust’s assets for the long-term, especially if you have little investment experience.

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How to Avoid Guardianship or Conservatorship in Massachusetts

Guardianship and conservatorship both refer to a legal relationship between one person (the guardian or conservator) and another person (the incapacitated person) where the guardian/conservator has the ability and responsibility to make decisions on the other’s behalf. The primary difference between these two roles is the types of decisions that a guardian vs. a conservator is permitted to make — a guardian can make decisions about another’s individual decisions, including medical care, whereas a conservator can make legal decisions about property and finances. 

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Massachusetts Estate Planning During the Holidays

Thinking about creating an estate plan may not be the cheeriest of topics, but it is one of the most important. And while you may not want to bog family members down with talk of estate planning during the holidays, the holidays are actually one of the best times to talk about estate planning. Here are some tips to discuss estate planning with loved ones during the holidays, as well as advice for what to include in your estate plan–

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How to get out of Timeshare Ownership Obligations

In the 1970’s people were buying Timeshares; they were very popular.  They seemed like a great investment; a way to own a small piece of real estate in a luxury location.  A commitment to taking that annual vacation; family fun vacations for a seemingly more affordable cost.  Now that the Babyboomers and their families have gotten older, many of these Timeshares aren’t being used.  Some people may be too old to travel due to health issues or finances in retirement.  If you are a widow or widower you may not want to travel alone.  The heirs don’t always want them either.  Many Timeshare owners have discovered disposing of the Timeshare and its associated obligations of paying the annual fees are not easy, especially on a retirement income.  Selling the timeshare on places like Craigslist, Classified newspaper ads, eBay or donating them to charity may not be feasible either.  Timeshare exit companies are not always reliable, or honest for that matter, and those that are could cost upwards of $10,000.00 or more for the services they provide.

Here are some possible solutions:

  1. Check with the Timeshare resort itself. Ask to speak with the management office or someone who specifically handles the return of the property to the Timeshare company.  These “Deed-backs” or “Surrenders” may include a fee of a few hundred dollars to cover administration costs and state recording fees.
  2. Explain in detail you specific situation. “Almost all of the major programs have some sort of deed-back programs,” says Brian Rogers of the Timeshare Users Group on-line.  Some of the smaller Timeshare resorts may not have an official deed-back program but they may be willing to work with you to come up with a solution that works for you.  There is an old saying: “Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained,” you have everything to gain and nothing to lose by trying this strategy.
  3. Generally you should not be behind on the monthly fees and you may need to pay off the loan balance if you took out a loan when you purchased the Timeshare.
  4. DO NOT GET TALKED INTO BUYING MORE POINTS OR UPGRADING BEFORE YOU ARE ALLOWED TO CANCEL. Hang up the phone and try one of the other solutions.
  5. STOP PAYING the loan and or monthly fees. Keep in mind this may affect your credit rating because the lender will more than likely report the default on the debt to the credit bureaus.  If the loan is paid in full and you just stop paying the monthly fees, the Timeshare company may not even report the non-payment to the credit agencies.  When you are 85 years old, you may not be relying on “Good Credit” to buy a new home, get a new job, buying a new car, etc.
  6. In many instances the stopping of monthly fee payments will result in the Timeshare management to allow you to surrender the Timeshare. Foreclosing on a Timeshare may cost the Timeshare management more money in legal fees and costs then allowing you to surrender the interest to them via a deed-back arrangement.
  7. Resell the Timeshare. If you have a premium or luxury Timeshare, such as at a Disney resort, you may have some success in selling and deeding it to a buyer.  More-than-likely you will get very little money in the Net Sale proceeds.  Two major forums focusing on the sale of timeshares are Timeshare Resort Reviews Classified Ads and Advice from other owners like you | Timeshare Users Group (tug2.com) and The World’s Largest Timeshare Marketplace | RedWeek(redweek.com).
  8. IF you use a company to help you sell your timeshare, be very careful. Check with the Attorney General’s office in the state where the company does business and/or with Better Business Bureaus to see if any complaints have been filed.  Don’t let a company use fear or hard-sell tactics to intimidate you . . . NO, your children will not have to pay the fees after you pass away.
  9. If you want or need legal advice before signing a deed-back agreement, give the Law Offices of Patricia Bloom-McDonald a call.

When to sell your parents’ home: The tax consequences

Let’s say you’ve known for years that you are inheriting your father’s home when he dies. Hopefully, he has a Last Will and Testament that indicates clearly that the house will go to you. Now let’s assume that your father is no longer living in the house and doesn’t need the money from the sale. Perhaps he just moved to assisted living and has long-term-care insurance to cover the costs. Or maybe he just moved in with you and has enough retirement savings to cover his needs. So when is the best time for your dad’s house to be sold: While he is still alive or after he dies?

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