I’m proud to announce that I’ve just launched a major redesign of the official website of the Law Office of David E. Peterson. The website is the product of countless hours of work. I’d especially like to thank my wife, Dan Peterson, for her design prowess, and my longtime friend, Jill Currier for her scrupulous proofreading skills.
Please check out the new design at www.deplawfirm.com
In addition to an updated design and interface, the new website contains a wealth of content on my practice areas: Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Administration, Prenuptial Agreements, Guardianship and Conservatorship, and Corporate and Business Planning. There are over thirty subpages that describe various legal services and solutions in specific detail.
As always, I welcome your thoughts, suggestions, corrections, and compliments. If you know of anyone that may benefit from my services, or would just like to have a discussion on legal issues, send them my way.
My office is conveniently located at 300 Rosewood Drive, Suite 203 in Danvers, Massachusetts, near the junctions of Rts. 1, I-95, and 114. I primarily serve clients in the North Shore, Merrimack Valley, and Greater Boston areas of Massachusetts.
David E. Peterson, Esq.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and across America families will gather for food and fellowship in the spirit of gratitude for the many blessings bestowed upon us. This year, I have a lot to be thankful for.
My beautiful wife Dan and I have been married for almost two years. Our baby boy, Timothy, was born last March, and is happy and healthy. My law practice has grown by leaps and bounds in the almost two years since I opened my Danvers office.
I am also conscious of the fact that many families are struggling this holiday season, financially, personally, and spiritually. These are difficult times, and as we saw with Hurricane Sandy a few weeks ago, a life of abundance can be swept away in an instant. And while our response to tragedy highlights our character, our preparation for the unexpected often goes unsung.
So this holiday season, I am also grateful for the opportunity to have helped so many to protect their families, preserve their values, and ensure a smooth transition for their loved ones, whether they are struck by tragedy, or pass calmly into the night at a ripe-old-age many years from now.
God is Good.
Please check out my article on Massachusetts Homesteads in the Local Voices section of the Danvers Patch.com website.
Filing a Declaration of Homestead can protect your Massachusetts home from judgment creditors and lawsuits.
A rather specific question was posed to me in the comments of another post, so I’ll address it here. The question posed was:
“If a 62 year old widow remarries, and designates his emancipated children as beneficiaries of his 401(k), does he need his new wife’s endorsement to make the beneficiary designations stick? Also, are his retirement assets now at risk if his new spouse needs long term care?”
This is a great question, and since it appears to be a real world scenario playing out as we speak, I’ll issue the general disclaimer that this blog isn’t specific legal advice. Nevertheless, allow me to write generally on the topic.
The basic answer is that spousal consent is required to change beneficiary designations on a 401(k), however, there is a loophole that allows a worker to avoid obtaining such consent. Section 417(a)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code requires spousal consent to designate new beneficiaries of 401(k) plans. However, spousal consent is not required to roll a 401(k) into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Furthermore, spousal consent is not required to change the beneficiary designation of an IRA, thereby creating a loophole to the original requirement of 417(a)(2).
I would be remiss if I failed to mention that there are clear ethical implications of this strategy in certain scenarios. In fact, the National Women’s Law Center advocates for a legislative closing of this loophole. Pay special attention to footnote 9.
Protection from Long-Term Care Expenses:
This basic answer to this portion of the question is that the retirement assets are not protected. The more complex answer is that they may be partially protected. When an individual enters a nursing home, they must privately pay for their care, until their assets and income fall below certain thresholds, whereupon they will qualify for Medicaid (called MassHealth here in Massachusetts), who picks up the tab. Many complex formulas determine the threshold for income and assets, and I’ll try to explain them briefly.
Countable assets (typically everything except for the house and car) of both spouses, including retirement assets, are tallied. MassHealth then allocates them among the community spouse and the institutionalized spouse (in the nursing home). The community spouse is allowed to retain a certain amount called the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA). The maximum CSRA is revised each year, and is currently around $110,000. Amounts in excess of the CSRA must be spent down to below $2,000 in order for the institutionalized spouse to qualify for MassHealth.
It is sometimes possible to increase the CSRA. First, we must determine if the combined income of both spouses (including income generated by the CSRA) is below the Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA), currently set at around $1,800 (and itself subject to modification by more complex formulas). If their income is lower, then we can increase the CSRA, so that it will generate increased income up to the MMMNA. If their income is above the MMMNA, then we can file an appeal with MassHealth and argue specific reasons why the CSRA should be increased (typically based on the medical expenses of the community spouse).
Of course there are other strategies for protecting assets from long-term care expenses, and the best approach is to contact an estate planning attorney before it becomes an issue. Stay tuned for later posts on these important topics.
Hello everyone. This is the first post to my new blog: Musings of a Massachusetts Estate Attorney. I’m excited about the opportunity to muse in writing, and I’m excited that you’re reading this. Of course the majority of posts to this blog will be about estate planning, probate, corporate law, guardianship, conservatorship, prenuptial agreements, and all of the other fun legal stuff that I handle as an attorney. But beyond that, I hope that this blog will take on a life of its own, with posts about all of the cool and interesting topics that we 21st century New Englanders see in our lives. For those of you who don’t know me, please read the About this Blog page. I am the founder of The Law Office of David E. Peterson, in Danvers, MA, so please check out that website too. Finally, let me know if there are any topics that you would like to see, and feel free to reach out to me. I am at your service. Enjoy.