55Plus: Elder Law – Couples should review their estate plan

By Arthur P. Bergeron

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The Oak Bluffs Council on Aging on Wamsutta Avenue. — File photo by Mae Deary

If you are a couple, here are some reasons you might want to have your estate plan reviewed:

  • You’re older, so therefore your concerns have changed. If your current estate plans avoid probate, it may be time to update your estate plans to include wills that contain testamentary trusts to protect your spouse from potential nursing home expenses.
  • Your assets have increased. If couples have assets worth more than $1 million, there may be a Massachusetts estate tax bill after the second spouse passes away, unless your estate plans are structured correctly.
  • Your assets have decreased. Conversely, I see large estate-planning packages for the purpose of avoiding estate taxation, even though the couple’s estate would no longer be subject to estate tax. Those packages typically do nothing to protect from potential nursing home expenses.
  • You have a useless irrevocable trust. Given recent changes in MassHealth rulings, the trust may no longer be valid. Contrary to popular myth, these trusts can often be changed or undone if necessary.
  • Your family needs have changed. Perhaps one of the kids got divorced, or there is a disabled child, or one of you is sick. Make sure your plan meets your current needs.

If you need more information on this, you can contact me at (508) 860-1470 or abergeron@mirickoconnell.com. You may also find Frank and Mary’s YouTube channel to be a helpful resource: youtube.com/elderlawfrankandmary, as I address many common issues facing seniors and their loved ones.

Arthur P. Bergeron is an elder law attorney in the Trusts and Estates Group at Mirick O’Connell.