Governor Baker’s Proposed MassHealth Estate Recovery Expansion NOT Included in House Committee on Ways & Means FY 2017 Budget Recommendations

By: Sarah Roscioli (BCLS 3L)

Overview of Governor’s Proposed Changes to MassHealth Estate Recovery. The Governor’s proposed FY 2017 budget would have, among other things, expanded MassHealth estate recovery to include non-probate property for those becoming eligible for Medicaid (nursing facility benefits) on or after July 1, 2016.

Legislative Update.  On April 13, 2016, the House Committee on Ways and Means made its recommendations for the FY 2017 budget, which do not include the Governor’s proposed expanded definition of “estate” for purposes of recovery against the assets of a deceased MassHealth long-term care benefits recipient.

Broadening Definition of “Estate.”  Currently, M.G.L. Ch. 118E, Section 31(c) defines “estate” as all real and personal property and other assets included in decedent’s probate estate.  The Governor’s proposed language would have redefined the term “estate” to include: (1) joint property, including joint tenancy and tenancy by the entirety; (2) life estates; (3) funded revocable trusts; and (4) other property passing by beneficiary designation.  The Governor’s proposed language specifically excluded annuities and life insurance, with the exception of payments otherwise includable in the decedent’s probate estate.

Recovery Deferred for Surviving Spouse.  It is important to note that the Governor’s proposed budget would not have hastened the Division’s recovery when the decedent is survived by a spouse, i.e., under Chapter 118E, Section 31(b), recovery may not commence until after the death of the surviving spouse.

Overview of Budget Approval Process. On January 27, 2016, Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito filed their budget proposal for the Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17).  In mid-April, the House Ways & Means Committee reported its budget to the full House for debate and vote.  Then, in mid-May, the Senate Ways & Means Committee will report its budget to the full Senate for debate and vote.  The House and Senate budgets will then be reconciled into a single budget which will return to each chamber for a vote.  Once the House and Senate pass the reconciled budget, it will go to the Governor to be signed.  Following any legislative overrides, the final budget would go into effect for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2016.

The full text of the Governor’s budget proposal can be found here.  The full text of the House Committee’s recommendations can be found here.

Practice Fundamentals: Estate Planning with Real Estate

Program Date: Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Panelist: Matthew G. Karr, Esq. of the Heritage Law Center

Program Chairs: Anne L. Warren of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.,   Tamara Lauterbach Sturges of Egleson & Sturges, LLC, and Heidi Seely of Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster, P.C.

Materials: Click HERE for the panelists’ materials:

Program Topic: Real estate is an essential part of most family’s financial portfolio and is the perhaps the most common asset an estate planner will need to consider in creating an estate plan.  Real estate also requires many considerations in the estate planning context including tax planning, asset protection and conveyancing options.  This program examined these issues and the most common estate planning techniques to deal with them.

BBA Event Recap: Estate Planning With Retirement Benefits

Program Date: Friday, March 18, 2016

Panelist: Suma V. Nair, Esq., of Goulston & Storrs, PC

Program Chairs: Kerry L. Spindler, Goulston & Storrs PC  and Sara Goldman Curley, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP, co-Chairs of the Estate Planning Committee.

Materials:  To view the program materials, click here.

Summary of Program Topic: The program provided an overview of estate planning with retirement benefits, including a discussion of the most effective ways to make retirement benefits payable to trusts, traps for the unwary, the practical issues that arise when it comes time to implement beneficiary designations, and ideas to fix issues that come up during estate administration.

 

 

BBA Event Recap: Trust Accountings and Terminations: Identifying Options and Addressing Risks

Program Title: Trust Accountings and Terminations: Identifying Options and Addressing Risks

Program Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Panelists: Jennifer Locke, Esq. of Goodwin Procter LLP

Program Sponsor: Peter M. Shapland of Day Pitney LLP and Stacy K. Mullaney of Fiduciary Trust, co-Chairs of the Trust Administration Committee

Materials:  Because of file size, the handouts are broken into the following four parts:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Summary of Program Topic: The program explored various methods to render trust accounts, including final accounts. The discussion included accounting requirements for testamentary trusts, accounting clauses in trust instruments, options under the MUPC and MUTC, and managing risks in rendering final accounts.  The panelist reviewed the trustee’s options to render accounts and ways to minimize the trustee’s liability upon termination of a trust.

Practice Fundamentals Series: Basic Estate Planning Documents II: Revocable Trust

Program Date: Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Panelists: Courtney N. Carr, Esq. and Jessica L. Lambert, Esq. both of Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP

Program Chairs: Anne L. Warren of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.,   Tamara Lauterbach Sturges of Egleson & Sturges, LLC, and Heidi Seely of Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster, P.C.

Materials: Click HERE for the panelists’ materials:

Program Topic:  The Panelists reviewed the key components of revocable trusts, including funding formulas, marital provisions, possible trust structures for children and other beneficiaries, and trustee provisions.  They also provided drafting suggestions and advice on avoiding certain pitfalls when advising clients about establishing revocable trusts.

Practice Fundamentals Series: Intro to Gift Tax Return Preparation

Program Date: Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Panelists: Ruth Matson, Esq. of Bove & Langa, P.C. and Karen L. McKenna, Esq. of Tarlow, Breed, Hart & Rodgers, P.C.

Program Chairs: Anne L. Warren of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.,   Tamara Lauterbach Sturges of Egleson & Sturges, LLC, and Heidi Seely of Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster, P.C.

Materials: Click on each of the following links for the panelists’ materials:

Presentation Outline

TAB A-SAMPLE 709

TAB B-709 Instructions

TAB C-Sample GST Allocation

TAB D-QPRT Adequate Disclosure Example

TAB E-Late GST Allocation Example

Program Topic: The speakers provided an overview of the federal gift tax return (Form 709).  This form is used to report and pay tax on lifetime gifts and is an integral part of the estate planning process.  The presentation covered the general purposes and structure of the form, as well as provided tips for preparing it.

Court Rejects Income-Only Trust Created by MassHealth Applicant

In a poorly-reasoned and somewhat murky decision, a Superior Court judge in Daley v. Sudders (Civil Action No. 15–CV–0188–D.Dec. 24, 2015) extends the Doherty decision to reject the MassHealth application of a man who, with his wife, placed his Worcester condominium into an irrevocable trust for long-term care planning purposes. To learn more about this case and its implications for life estate trusts, click HERE.

Estate of Purdue v. Commissioner

By, Caleb S. Sainsbury, Esq. of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Citation: 145 T.C. Memo. 2015-249 (December 28, 2015)

Overview: This case addresses (1) whether the decedent retained an interest under §2036 of assets transferred to an FLP; (2) whether gifts of FLP interests qualify for the annual exclusion; and (3) whether interest on a loan to the estate to pay estate taxes may be deducted.

Summary of Facts: In 1995, the estate planning lawyer for Mr. and Mrs. Purdue advised them to establish an FLP and various trusts.  In 2000, the Purdues acted on this advice and contributed $22 million of marketable securities, an interest in a commercial building worth $900,000, a $375,000 promissory note from one of their children and an $865,523 certificate of deposit in exchange for all of the FLP membership interests.  The final agreement listed the following six reasons for establishing the FLP: to (1) consolidate the management and control of the property and improve efficiency in managing the property; (2) avoid fractured ownership; (3) keep ownership of the assets within the extended family; (4) protect assets from unknown creditors; (5) provide flexibility and management of assets not available through other business entities; and (6) promote the education and communication among extended family with respect to financial matters.

In addition, prior to the execution of the FLP, the estate planning attorney sent a memorandum to the Purdues summarizing five advantages of the structure. These advantages were (1) limited liability; (2) pass through income taxation; (3) minimum formalities; (4) appropriate entity for owning real estate; and (5) tax savings.

Prior to signing the documents, the Purdues had experienced some health issues. Mrs. Purdue had become semi-invalid due to a leg injury.  She had also experienced stroke-like symptoms in October 2000, but did not have residual neurological impairment.  Mr. Purdue was physically healthy at the time of the signing, but did experience symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and was subsequently diagnosed with that disease.

Mr. Purdue died unexpectedly in August 2001 and his estate passed to a family trust and two QTIP trusts. From 2002 through 2007, Mrs. Purdue made gifts of the FLP membership interests to an irrevocable trust with beneficiary withdrawal rights.  The trust made approximately $1.95 million of distributions to the children from 2001 to 2007, with the majority of the cash coming from the FLP interests contributed to the trust.

Upon Mrs. Purdue’s death in 2007, a dispute arose among her children on whether the FLP should make a distribution to pay estate taxes. Because the FLP operating agreement required unanimous consent, this gridlock resulted in funds from the FLP not being available to pay the tax.  As such, some of the beneficiaries and the QTIP trusts loaned money to the estate to fund the estate tax payment.  The estate deducted the interest on the loan on the estate tax return.

Court Analysis:

  1. §2036 Issues

The IRS argued that Mrs. Purdue had a retained interest in all assets transferred to the FLP. However, the Court reasoned that §2036 did not apply with respect to the transfers to the FLP for the following reasons: (1) the record established legitimate and significant nontax reasons for creating the FLP, (2) the Purdues were not financially dependent on FLP distributions, (3) FLP funds and personal funds were not comingled, (4) the FLP maintained its own records and formalities were respected, (5) the assets were transferred to the FLP in a timely manner, and (6) the Purdues were in good enough health at the time of the transfers.

  1. Annual Exclusion

To qualify as a gift of a present interest in the context of FLP interests, the donees must have the use, possession or enjoyment of the FLP interests or the income from those interests. Although the donees could not transfer the FLP interests without the consent of all members, the Court reasoned that the donees did receive income from those interests and this satisfied the present interest requirement.  Therefore, the gifts did qualify for the annual exclusion.

  1. Deductibility of Interest

In order for the interest on a loan to the estate to be deductible on an estate tax return, the loan must be (i) bona fide, (ii) necessary and actually incurred in the estate administration and (iii) essential to the property settlement of the estate. See Treas. Reg. §20.2053-1(b)(2), §20.2053-3(a).  The Court reasoned that the loan was necessary because the FLP members could not agree on whether to make a distribution to pay the estate taxes.  Thus, the interest deduction was allowed.

Take Away Considerations:  This case provides a roadmap for highlighting factors resulting in a positive result for the client.  Particularly, advisors must take care to review the factors noted by the Court to avoid having the full value of assets transferred to an FLP included in the estate under §2036.