William M. Gatesman, Attorney at Law

William M. Gatesman assists clients in Maryland and D.C. in the areas of estate planning, probate and estate administration, elder law and Medicaid planning, asset protection planning, special needs planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and health care decision making documents.

The purpose of this website is to educate consumers and their advocates regarding legal developments that may affect their lives. Mr. Gatesman has written the articles that follow, organized by date of publication. To assist you in locating articles of interest, there is a search feature and a subject matter index in the column on the right side as you scroll down this page. You also may sign up to receive newly published articles by email in the newsletter signup box on the right.

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Getting the MOLST Out of Medical Decision Making

Many people are aware of Living Wills and Advance Directives, legal documents that allow people to make an advance determination about end of life care should they be unable to make a decision or communicate with their doctors.

Now, under Maryland Law, there is another document to direct health care providers with instructions as to one’s care alternatives, including end of life treatment: the Maryland Order for Life Sustaining Treatment form, more commonly referred to as the MOLST form. The MOLST form is a doctor’s order concerning what actions to take with respect to life sustaining treatment.

Most people admitted to a hospital or nursing home, and some other health care facilities, will be confronted with the fact that a MOLST form will be completed for them. The purpose of the MOLST form completion process is to facilitate informed consent, and there should be an appropriate physician-patient discussion (or in some instances physician-health care agent discussion) concerning what actions to take in particular circumstances.

Unfortunately, many people find that they are given a MOLST worksheet to fill out and on which to make particular choices without the opportunity to have a proper informed consent discussion. Once that worksheet is turned in to the health care provider, a MOLST is prepared and signed by a doctor.

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Simplified Ancillary Administration in Maryland

If an out of state resident dies owning real property in Maryland, can the executor of the estate simply transfer the Maryland property with a deed? In many states other than Maryland, the executor would be required to open a probate estate in the deceased individual’s home state and also open a second probate estate in the state in which the real property is located, this latter probate proceeding being referred to as “ancillary administration.”

While the executor of the out of state decedent’s estate can do an ancillary administration in Maryland as well, there is a much simpler process available under Maryland law.

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Will Helping your Child Cause you to Lose Medicaid Benefits?

Parents have traditionally helped their adult children or their grandchildren in times of need. If an adult child faces foreclosure, for example, many parents with sufficient resources provide financial assistance to help their child avoid financial devastation. Others make significant gifts to assist grandchildren with their college education costs.

Unfortunately, the Medicaid rules in Maryland provided that any transfer of funds for which no return was received was assumed to be for the purpose of avoiding nursing home costs, assumed to be for the purpose of depleting one’s resources so Medicaid would pay for those nursing home costs.

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Solving a Thorny Property Ownership Problem

Mom is in a nursing home. As part of an asset preservation plan, Mom’s house will be transferred to her children and she will apply for Medicaid benefits.

In digging into the matter, however, the family discovered that “Mom’s house” actually is titled in Dad’s sole name (Dad died in 1989) and Dad’s former wife, as co-owners. Mom and Dad have resided in that house since they were married and everyone assumed that when Dad died, Mom owned the house (as is typical when a husband and wife live in a property that they own together). However, Mom never was on the deed.

To make matters worse, Dad died without a will and nobody bothered to open a probate estate in 1989 to deal with the real property. Even more complicated is the question as to whether Dad’s former wife survived him, which would mean that the house belonged to someone else, and not to Mom.

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Ten Myths About the Dying Process

The following article, Bury the Top 10 Myths About the Dying Process, is by Tani Bahti, RN, CT, CHPN, Founder and Executive Director of Passages – Support & Education in End of Life Issues, and Author of “Dying to Know – Straight Talk About Death & Dying.”
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The current debate about end of life decision-making in healthcare is avoiding the most important ingredient; understanding the natural process of dying. It is critical that this information be provided compassionately and thoroughly before those facing a potentially terminal illness can make a truly informed decision.

Those of us who work directly with the dying understand that the body has a natural wisdom built into it, to protect itself and promote comfort.

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Legislature Tinkers With Power of Attorney Law

The Maryland legislature once again has tinkered with the law governing powers of attorney in Maryland. That law includes Power of Attorney Forms, which if used, or if one’s power of attorney is “in substantially the same form” as one of the form documents, then the law bestows certain rights on the holder of the power of attorney, namely, the right to obtain payment of one’s legal fees from the person or institution who refuses to honor the power of attorney where a legal action is taken to compel acceptance. This right to legal fees differs from the general “American rule” of jurisprudence which holds that each litigant in a legal action must pay his own legal fees.

Unfortunately, the forms in the statute are generally not sufficiently comprehensive and lack certain important provisions.

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October Brings New Laws Affecting Probate in Maryland

There are several new laws affecting probate in Maryland that became effective October 1, 2012. This article will address those statutory changes.

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When a Mere Guardianship is Not Enough

Father, who had been enjoying late middle age, had a brain aneurysm and now is in a permanent coma. Unfortunately, he did not have a power of attorney or advance directive, so his adult son could not access his bank account, in which he had $20,000. He has no other assets. Father’s hospital and nursing home bills now exceed $300,000.

Son applied for Medicaid for his father but was denied benefits because Medicaid will not be allowed if Father has more than $2,500. Unfortunately, without a power of attorney, no one has the authority to spend the funds in Father’s bank account so that he can get Medicaid benefits.

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Deducting Assisted Living Costs

With the due date approaching for the filing of an income tax return, some may wonder if the costs paid to an assisted living facility are deductible.

In order to deduct assisted living costs for income tax purposes, an individual needs to obtain a written statement from her doctor which states that:

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