Planning for Life

We're Reemerging, Carefully

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 1, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


With Governor Baker's partial easing of the stay-at-home order, we are reopening our Wellesley office with a skeletal crew. Here's how it will work:

  1. Limited Staffing. No more than a quarter of our staff will be in the office at the same time.
  2. Face masks. Whenever anyone is outside of their office or workstation, they will wear face masks.
  3. Social Distancing. No adjacent workstations will be occupied at the same time.
  4. Disinfecting. There will be a lot of sanitizing and hand washing going on.
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Topics: coronavirus, document execution

You Don't Need a Lawyer for Your Advance Directive

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on May 19, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


While we include health care proxies in all the estate planning packages we prepare for clients, you don't need a lawyer to get one. Hospitals and other medical facilities commonly hand out the form created by the Massachusetts Medical Society, which you can also download here.

Just print out the form, choose your agent and a successor, in case your original choice is unavailable, and sign the document before two witnesses.

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Topics: health-care decision making, HIPAA release, health care proxy, coronavirus

"For the duration . . ."

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on May 5, 2020

closed-for-the-duration-coronavirus-Wellesley-MABy Harry S. Margolis

With the uncertainty of our coronavirus shutdown, my mother has recalled a phrase she heard often as a child during World War II: "For the duration."

Gas rationing was supposed to last "for the duration." Street lights would be dimmed "for the duration." Americans were asked to keep their mouths closed "for the duration" since "loose talk can cost lives." Factories switched from producing consumer goods to military hardware "for the duration."

How long was "for the duration?" No one knew; except that it was as long as it took to win the war.

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Topics: coronavirus

Remote Notarization Law Now Available in Massachusetts

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on April 28, 2020

By Laura Goodman and Harry S. Margolis


Last week, the Massachusetts legislature (finally) passed legislation permitting the remote notarization and witnessing of legal documents during the pandemic—the 45th of 50 states to take this step, and Governor Baker signed the bill into law on Monday, April 27th.

Provisions and requirements of the Remote Notarization Law

While we can now execute wills and other documents remotely, the legislation doesn't make it easy. Here are its main provisions and requirements:

  • The law only lasts until three days after the end of the state of emergency, which is now May 18th.
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Topics: Estate Planning, coronavirus, document execution

Why Don't We Have Virtual Notarization Yet? (Actually, now we do)

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on April 21, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


Editor's Note: April 23rd, the Massachusetts legislature (finally) passed a bill to permit remote notarization and witnessing of legal documents during the coronavirus pandemic—the 45th of the 50 states to take this step. It didn’t happen without a bit of last minute drama. The Senate passed its bill on Tuesday, April 21st. On Thursday, the House passed a similar bill, but added the requirement that all remote document execution sessions be recorded and the recording saved for 10 years. Fortunately, the Senate then quickly approved the House’s version of the bill. Now we just await Gov. Baker’s signature.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, a bill to allow online notarization and witnessing of documents during the shutdown has been wending its slow way through the Massachusetts legislature. It was first slowed down by different constituencies seeking tweaks in the law. The first proposal only permitted attorneys and paralegals to do online notarizations, but a revised bill expands this to non-attorney or paralegal notaries. As reported in The Boston Globe, it has the support of a wide constituency, including lawyers, the real estate industry, and investment companies, such as Fidelity. But still the bill languishes.

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Topics: coronavirus, document execution

Estate Planning in the Time of Coronavirus

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on April 14, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


As reported in The Sunday Boston Globe, the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic along with either isolation at home or the need for essential workers to go out and risk becoming infected has prompted many Massachusetts residents to consider planning estates for the first time or to complete plans they may have started but let slide several years ago.

We've seen this as well, especially among doctors and other health care professionals on the front line who feel an increased urgency to get their plans in place. The difficulty in these cases is witnessing and notarizing estate planning instruments while maintaining proper social distancing. I described how we've done this in an earlier blog post.

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Topics: Estate Planning, will, coronavirus, document execution

Have Your Go Bag Ready in Case You Fall Ill

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on April 8, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


Attorney Peter T. Clark of Mansfield has circulated great advice to members of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He suggests that family members of anyone who is sick at home or more vulnerable to the coronavirus due to age or underlying condition prepare a "go bag" of items the person may need in the hospital. Remember, in this case, family members may well be barred from visiting and bringing these supplies later.

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Topics: hospital care, coronavirus

How Can You Help Your Aging Parents from a Distance?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on March 28, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


If your parents are getting on in years, you may be assisting them with their finances and other matters, such as medical visits and shopping. You may live close by and be able to visit weekly or more often. Or you may live far and way before the coronavirus, have been visiting every few months. Either way, due to COVID-19, you may not be able to visit right now, whether because flights are no longer available, you're working more than full-time home-schooling your children, your parents' residence has barred visitors, or you yourself are not safe because you have to continue to go out in the world. The last may especially be the case if you are a medical professional.

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Topics: durable power of attorney, HIPAA release, health care proxy, coronavirus

10 Positive Effects of the Coronavirus

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on March 24, 2020

By Margolis & Bloom


If you are like us, the statewide shutdown due to the coronavirus probably makes you feel like life is on hold, even as most of the demands of life continue, or are increased—such as homeschooling your children. In our case, we're continuing to work from our homes and find ways to stay bonded as a team.

Silver linings of COVID-19

One of our staff members started an email chain asking each of us add one positive impact "the Corona" (as her kids call it) has had for us. Here they are (recognizing that for some people there are no positive effects of COVID-19):

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Topics: coronavirus

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