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My partner, Ray Cannon, created the chronicles of Dick and Jane to help clients understand some of the intricacies of estate planning and elder law.  With thanks and appreciation for his sense of humor and legal skills, we bring you the 2019 life of Dick and Jane.

Jane has been happily married for the past couple of years. She continues to work as a money manager on Wall Street and Dick has started a part-time counseling practice while teaching part-time in one of the local community colleges.

Jane came in to see me and expressed an interest in buying a home with Dick and wanted to know how best to take title.  I reminded her that her pre-nuptial agreement would allow her to take title in her own name.

I explained that there are a number of ways to take title in two names: there is tenant in common which means that in the event of the death of one spouse, that spouse's estate would take title to the deceased's fifty percent share; there is joint tenancy with right of survivorship in which case the deceased spouse's shares would pass to the surviving spouse; finally, there is a tenancy by the entirety which is available only to married couples. A tenancy by the entirety works just like a joint tenancy with right of survivorship but, there is no right of partition in the property. In other words, one spouse cannot transfer his share without the signature of the other spouse and if a claim is filed against one spouse, that spouse's share cannot be sold in order to satisfy the judgment. Jane asked what she should do. 

Jane's prenuptial agreement indicated that if they took title jointly, then Dick's fifty percent ownership would be considered a gift by Jane to Dick. A gift, once made, cannot be undone. So I suggested that to be on the safe side, she take title in the name of a realty trust which allow her to name herself as primary beneficiary. If she wanted Dick to have the property if she died, she could so indicate. But, in the event of divorce, she would have control of the property and it would not be considered a marital asset. She could always change the tenancy at a later date.  The realty trust has an added benefit of avoiding probate in the event of her premature death and ensuring a step-up in the tax basis of the property at her death.

Asset Protection

Posted by Bridget Murray | Apr 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

My partner, Ray Cannon, created the chronicles of Dick and Jane to help clients understand some of the intricacies of estate planning and elder law.  With thanks and appreciation for his sense of humor and legal skills, we bring you the 2019 life of Dick and Jane. JANE'S FATHER DECIDES TO PROTEC...

Chronicles of Jane -- Prenuptial Agreements

Posted by Bridget Murray | Mar 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

My partner, Ray Cannon, created the chronicles of Dick and Jane to help clients understand some of the intricacies of estate planning and elder law.  With thanks and appreciation for his sense of humor and legal skills, we bring you the 2019 life of Dick and Jane. Jane recently graduated from ...

Will the state take my home?

Posted by Bridget Murray | Mar 06, 2019 | 0 Comments

As an elder law attorney, I hear this fear, or variations of it, from many of our older clients. There is plenty to be worried about in the world of nursing home and healthcare costs, but in general, having the Commonwealth of Massachusetts ‘take your house' should come off that list. If you are...

Pets in Estate Planning

Posted by Bridget Murray | Mar 06, 2019 | 0 Comments

In our estate planning practice, we sometimes have clients with large animals like horses, animals that live a long time like birds, or other pets that are important members of the client's life.  If you become ill, incapacitated, or pass away, what provisions need to be made for the care of your...

Military Families

Posted by Bridget Murray | Feb 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

I wrote a few months ago about what to do if you have a young adult child coming home from college.  Many of these items are also true if you have a young adult child in the military.  I have a 21 year old son serving in the Army, and I was surprised that he was not encouraged to have a healthcar...

Opening an Estate Account

Posted by Bridget Murray | Jan 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

Frequently Asked Questions -- Probate  How Do I Open an Estate Account?  After someone has passed away and you have been appointed Personal Representative (this used to be called the Executor) you now have the task of gathering up all the assets and paying bills.  You need an estate account, us...

Is College Worth it?

Posted by Bridget Murray | Nov 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

Almost one in five Americans with a college degree are still gainfully employed. That's the highest number in more than fifty years. If you've got a college degree, your chances of working past age 65 are higher, and you'll also find it easier to keep working. Americans are delaying retirement p...

Elder Law -- HELP!

Posted by Bridget Murray | Oct 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

How Will Aging Parent's Needs Impact Your Family? We like to think money doesn't matter when it comes to the ones we love, but if an elderly parent should need skilled nursing care and has no resources, the family will need to know what's coming next. At some point, families have to face the gr...

Should You Worry About Estate Taxes?

Posted by Bridget Murray | Feb 11, 2018 | 0 Comments

Where You Die Matters, If You Want to Minimize Your Heir's Tax Burden Depending on where you die, you may be able to leave a relatively large sum to your heirs, tax-free, since some states have tied their state estate taxes to the federal amount. If you die in 2018 in Hawaii, Maine or Washingto...

Medicaid Annuities

Posted by Bridget Murray | Jan 31, 2018 | 0 Comments

What is a Medicaid Annuity? This financial product isn't without some controversy. However, it may be a smart move, and can alleviate worry about your home and income if your spouse needs nursing home care. It's not an unusual scenario: one spouse has moved to live in a nursing home and will ne...

Conversations now minimize problems later

Posted by Bridget Murray | Jan 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

Consider sharing your plans and information about finances with your family now.  Some folks feel the need to let their doctor figure out what's wrong with them, claiming that it's the doctor's job. They're often the same ones who won't tell their heirs everything. However, as Vanguard advises in...

What will happen to your pets?

Posted by Bridget Murray | Jan 07, 2018 | 0 Comments

Does Your Estate Plan Include Care for Your Pet? Animal shelters know all too well what happens when plans for pet care are treated informally. If your idea of planning for your animal companion's well-being after you pass is asking a family member if they will take Spot and Flurry, think again...

Where the Wealth is...

Posted by Bridget Murray | Oct 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

Wealthy Americans are most likely to be Over 80 Years Old People in their 50s can buy as big a house and as fancy a car as they want, but when it comes to real wealth, that's in the hands of Americans who are 80 and older. When it comes to wealth measured in billions and millions, a recent arti...

Planning with Children

Posted by Bridget Murray | Oct 04, 2017 | 0 Comments

If You Have Minor Children, You Must Have an Estate Plan It's heartbreaking, but it does happen: both parents die unexpectedly, and there's no will, and no one has been named a guardian. Who decides who will raise your children? Being a good parent means being responsible for the well-being of ...

Estate Planning and your Loved Ones

Posted by Bridget Murray | Sep 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

How an Estate Plan Protects Your Loved Ones Estate plans perform a number of functions, including conveying your wishes for final care, if you should become incapacitated and appointing people to make medical decisions on your behalf. Everyone needs an estate plan, for their own peace of mind a...

Protecting Your Legacy and Their Inheritance

Posted by Bridget Murray | May 13, 2017 | 0 Comments

Conversations between estate planning attorneys and clients are as much about how to talk with children about the intentions behind inheritances, as about the legal means of distributing assets. A lifetime spent creating a family and an accumulation of wealth is an admirable accomplishment. The ...

Common Concerns in Estate Planning

Posted by Bridget Murray | May 05, 2017 | 0 Comments

here are certain questions that every estate planning attorney knows will be asked the first time they sit down with clients. Understanding them makes the process easier. Probate is one of a handful of questions that are routinely asked by clients new to the estate planning process. Figuring out...

You Still Need a Will

Posted by Bridget Murray | Apr 04, 2017 | 0 Comments

No Kids? You Still Need a Will. Whether you are single, married, have kids or no kids, you still need a will to distribute your assets upon your death, unless you want the state to make all decisions for you. A recent Gallup survey reported in Yahoo Finance, “Estate Planning Is Important for Pe...

Step by Step Guide to Settling an Estate

Posted by Bridget Murray | Feb 06, 2017 | 0 Comments

For some people, the details of settling an estate provide a welcome distraction from grief, while others find the tasks overwhelming. Regardless of the emotions, there are certain tasks that must be taken care of in a timely manner when settling an estate. The process generally takes about a yea...

Who really owns what?

Posted by Bridget Murray | Aug 11, 2016 | 0 Comments

I periodically have clients come in who are married couples, but for one reason or another have held their real property and bank accounts in separate names for their entire marriage.  Now it is time to do estate planning, and I often suggest the use of a Revocable Living Trust.   Revocable Livi...

What to Do When the Unthinkable Occurs

Posted by Bridget Murray | Jun 30, 2016 | 0 Comments

You know that someday you and your spouse will die. But when you are young, it simply doesn't seem possible. Here are some tips for coping with an unexpected loss of a spouse. There are many different kinds of grief, but when a spouse dies at an exceptionally young age, it is hard to know how to...

Could My Children Handle Their Inheritance Wisely?

Posted by Bridget Murray | Jun 27, 2016 | 0 Comments

How to Plan for Adult Children When Not All Are Responsible Adults We love our children equally, but we recognize that they handle money differently. Can we protect the ones who lack financial discipline from squandering their inheritance? Few families can say that all of their adult children a...

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