In This Issue
Message from the Partners
Five Things You Should Know About Gifting
There's a New Act in Town and its Name is ABLE
Socially Responsible Investing Ain't What it Used to Be . . . It's Better
Whats New?
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Samuel Sayward & Baler 
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Dedham, MA 02026

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News from  
Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC

February 2015

Attorneys Suzanne Sayward, Maria Baler, and Steven Joshua Samuel

Message from the Partners


Dear Clients and Friends,


With another holiday season behind us, some of you may have made monetary gifts to family members or charity. While the old adage of it's better to give than receive may be true, it's equally important to make sure that from an estate- and tax-planning perspective  you fully understand the laws that apply to any gifts you have made. "Five Things you Should Know About Gifting," which was written by Attorney Baler and published in the Dedham Transcript this month, describes the five most important facts to keep in mind  -- from understanding the tax rules to Medicaid, to making charitable gifts, and more. 


Attorney Sayward has written about the ABLE Act, which is intended to benefit individuals with a disability.  Enacted by Congress last year, ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) was created to help disabled individuals and their families set aside money without risking certain benefits.  If you or someone you know is disabled, this article will help you understand how to take advantage of this new law within its limitations. 


Steven Joshua Samuel and Melissa Walsh from Samuel Financial LLC have written about ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investing, which takes into account personal values when  making investment decisions.  For a growing number of investors, it's important to know about a  corporation's record when it comes to such topics as the environment, social issues, and corporate governance. Attorney Samuel and Ms. Walsh write about six key facts to consider when it comes to making sound financial investments with a social conscience. 


We are excited to welcome Attorney Pamela Greenfield to our staff!  Please take a moment to read about the expertise she is bringing to our firm. Attorney Greenfield looks forward to getting to know our clients in the new year.


As we enter our sixth year writing our newsletter, we are pleased that our readership continues to grow!  As always, we encourage you to send us ideas for future articles. Please feel free to send us email addresses for new subscribers or forward this newsletter to friends and family members.


Here's hoping that 2015 is off to a great start!


Steven Joshua Samuel

Suzanne R. Sayward

Maria C. Baler 



Five Things You Should Know About Gifting


By Attorney Maria Baler

In addition to the usual gifts given during the holiday season, the end of the year is a time when many people make monetary gifts to family members and to charity.  Gift giving makes the giver and the recipient feel good.  From an estate planning and tax planning perspective, gifts are generally a good idea as well.  Here are five things you should know about gift giving:


1.      Gift Tax Rules on Gifts.  When making gifts, you must keep the federal gift tax rules in mind (there is no Massachusetts gift tax).   An important concept is the "annual exclusion," which is the amount a person may gift to another person in a calendar year without gift or other tax consequences.  In 2014, the annual exclusion amount was $14,000 and this will not change in 2015, although the annual exclusion is indexed for inflation and periodically changes in January when appropriate. 


Gifts of more than the annual exclusion amount in a calendar year result in no income tax implications to the gift recipient.  However, such a gift is considered a "taxable gift" by the gift giver, who must file a federal gift tax return reporting the gift made.  Under current gift and estate tax rules, a gift giver may give up to $5.43 million (in 2015) of taxable gifts during her lifetime without paying a gift tax; however gift tax returns must be filed to allow the IRS to keep track of the taxable gifts made over the gift giver's lifetime.  At the gift giver's death, taxable gifts made during her lifetime must be reflected on the federal estate tax return filed by her estate, if one is required to be filed.  The value of each taxable gift at the time the gift was made is part of the federal estate tax computation done to determine the amount of federal estate tax payable at the gift giver's death.  For Massachusetts estate tax purposes, taxable gifts are taken into account when determining if an estate tax return must be filed, but no estate tax is paid on the gifted assets.


Keep in mind that if the gift giver gives a gift of a capital asset, such as real estate or stock, the gift recipient's basis in the gifted asset for capital gain tax purposes is equal to the gift giver's basis.  If the gift recipient sells the gifted asset after receiving the gift, he will pay capital gain tax on the difference between his basis and the sale price.  Therefore, before making a gift of highly appreciated property, consider and analyze the gift, estate, and capital gain tax implications.


2.      Medicaid Rules on Gifts.  If a gift giver, because of age or health issues, could potentially require nursing home care in the next five years, any consideration of gift giving must take into account the Medicaid transfer of asset rules. Although these rules are often confused with the gift tax rules discussed above, they have nothing to do with each other.  Gifts of any size given within five years of applying for Medicaid benefits to pay for nursing home care will disqualify the gift giver from receiving those benefits for a period of time.  Under the Medicaid regulations, gifts given for a purpose other than to qualify for Medicaid benefits should not disqualify the giver.  In practice, it can be difficult to prove to Medicaid's satisfaction that the gift was not made with the intent of qualifying for Medicaid benefits.  For this reason, gifts of any size made by a person who is likely to require Medicaid benefits within the five-year period after making a gift should be given with caution.  The average cost of nursing home care in Massachusetts is about $132,000 per year, or $11,000 per month.  Unless a gift giver has sufficient means to pay for the cost of her care from her income or assets, or has long-term care insurance to pay for or supplement other sources of payment for her care, consideration must be given to qualification for Medicaid benefits if gifts are to be made.


3.      Tax and Estate Planning Reasons to Make Gifts.  Besides giving the gift giver a warm feeling and making the recipient happy, there are other reasons to make gifts.  From an income tax perspective, transferring income-producing property, like stock, reduces the gift giver's taxable income (i.e. dividends on the gifted stock) and shifts that income to the gift recipient.  If the recipient is in a lower tax bracket than the giver, the income tax payable on that income is reduced.  Making gifts also reduces the value of the gift giver's overall estate for estate tax purposes.  If the gift giver's estate is "taxable" (i.e. over $1 million for Massachusetts estate tax purposes, or over $5.43 million for federal estate tax purposes), giving gifts during her lifetime will reduce the estate tax payable by her estate at her death.  For Massachusetts estate tax purposes, the assets on which estate tax is calculated at your death are reduced by making gifts, thereby saving estate taxes for your heirs.  For federal and Massachusetts estate tax purposes, if the gifted asset appreciates in value after the gift is made, that appreciation in value will escape estate tax at the gift giver's death.


4.       Reasons Not to Make Gifts.  Before making a gift, the gift giver should carefully consider whether she can afford it.  The gift giver should not give away assets that she believes she will need in the future to support herself or provide needed care.  Once a gift is made, the gifted assets are out of the giver's control, and the gift recipient is free to spend, transfer, or sell the gifted assets.  The gift recipient may promise to hold those assets and return them to the giver or pay for the giver's care with those assets if necessary.  However, the gift recipient may not be able to follow through on those promises, intentionally or unintentionally, due to, for example, divorce, bankruptcy, or creditor issues. This situation can put the gift giver in a difficult situation if care is needed and the giver's assets or other resources are not sufficient to pay for the care required.  As discussed above, a gift giver should also not make a gift if by doing so she will disqualify herself from receiving Medicaid benefits she may need in the future.  Every family dynamic is different, and some family members who may not have sufficient assets or income to support their own lifestyles perceive others as a resource that can be tapped to support themselves.  Giving assets to others without regard to the gift giver's future needs is not wise, regardless of the pressure the giver may feel to help loved ones.


5.      Charitable Gifts.  Charitable gifts have added tax benefits.  Charitable gifts made during the gift giver's lifetime, in addition to reducing the giver's taxable estate, will also reduce the giver's income taxes because amounts given to charity are deductible for income tax purposes.  If charitable gifts are made at death, they will reduce the estate tax payable at death.   When giving gifts to charity, confirm that the charity is legitimate, and understand how much of the gift will be used for charitable purposes rather than the charity's administrative costs. Consult,, or www.charitywatch.orgfor information about charities and how funds are used.


Gifts can be smart for estate and tax planning reasons and are always welcome by the gift recipient.  Be thoughtful about the gifts you make and understand the tax and other implications before you decide to make a gift.  If you are at all uncomfortable about making a gift, take a step back and reassess the situation. If you have questions or are uncertain of the implications of a particular gift be sure to obtain advice from your accountant or estate planning attorney.

There's a New Act in Town and its Name is ABLE


By Attorney Suzanne  Sayward



Last year Congress enacted the ABLE Act, which is intended to benefit individuals with a disability.  ABLE -- Achieving a Better Life Experience, was conceived as a way for disabled individuals and their families to set aside money for the benefit of a person who receives needs-based governmental assistance without risking those benefits and without requiring the creation of a trust.  Many governmental programs that provide benefits to persons with disabilities limit eligibility to individuals who have not more than $2,000 in assets and restrict the amount of income a person may receive.  Not only does this prevent a person with disabilities from saving for his or her future, it means that making a gift or leaving an inheritance to a person with a disability can cause the recipient to lose important benefits, including medical coverage.


ABLE was enacted under Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.  This is the section that allows for the establishment of tax-favored education savings accounts. As originally proposed, the law would have allowed an ABLE account to be funded with an amount equal to the amount permitted for Section 529 education savings accounts under the applicable state law.  In Massachusetts this is $350,000.  However, in its final form, the law allows for much less than that.  As enacted, the Act provides that an individual receiving needs-based governmental benefits such as SSI or Medicaid may have only one ABLE account established for his or her benefit, with contributions to the account limited to a total of $14,000 per year.   


Like a Section 529 education savings account, the funds in an ABLE account will grow tax-free. If the value of an individual's ABLE account exceeds $100,000, the individual will lose SSI benefits but not Medicaid benefits under the current version of the law.  As a practical matter, if the $14,000 per year limitation on contributions to an ABLE account remains in effect, no one will need to worry about exceeding that $100,000 threshold for many years, even with tax-free growth.


Just as distributions from a Section 529 education savings account must be used for qualified education expenses, distributions from an ABLE account must be used for qualified disability expenses.  Qualified disability expenses include but are not limited to costs for education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, personal support services, and health care, etc.


The law requires that amounts remaining in the ABLE account at the individual's death be paid to the state up to the amount necessary to reimburse it for Medicaid benefits received by the disabled person during lifetime. Because of this payback provision, a better strategy for family members who want to benefit a child or grandchild who receives needs-based governmental benefits is to create and fund a separate trust (a third-party Special Needs Trust), which does not need to include a payback provision.


While the ABLE Act in its final form did not live up to the vision of its proponents, it presents another option for persons with disabilities and their families.  To learn more about whether an ABLE account might be a good tool for you or a family member, call us to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys. 


Socially Responsible Investing Ain't What it Used to Be .....It's Better


By Steven Joshua Samuel JD, MBA, AIF®  & Melissa Walsh, CFA
Samuel Financial LLC



Investing with social or political purpose, also known as "socially responsible investing," is a decades-old idea. High costs, poor investment results, and other concerns limited its appeal in the past. However, recent changes in the financial services industry and advances in technology have made great progress in addressing these concerns. As a result, socially responsible investing is being used more and has a new, broader name:  Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Investing. If you'd like to know whether you can invest well and be socially conscious, here are the recent key developments you need to know:


1. What is ESG investing?

ESG investing means taking into account personal values in addition to the standard financial information when making investment decisions. Investors who want investments that are consistent with their personal values, evaluate an investment's environmental impact, commitment to social issues and corporate governance (how well corporations treat employees, shareholders and the public).


2. Is it possible to identify the values being promoted by investments?

Early ESG investors simply excluded objectionable categories such as tobacco, gambling, weapons or alcohol. These ESG investors could express their values by avoiding the companies that had these activities as their sole business. Identifying companies that contributed to the world in positive ways was more challenging. Also, as mutual funds that invested in hundreds of companies became the dominant investment vehicle in 20th-century America, it became more difficult for investors to know what values their money was promoting.

Improvements in financial reporting technology have made it possible to know whether someone has invested in companies that earn money from businesses that some investors want to avoid, like fossil fuels or doing business in countries that have poor records for human rights. Today, portfolios can be designed to focus on specific positive ESG goals, like solar energy, wind power, water conservation, or how the company treats women and minorities.

3.Are investment returns for ESG strategies solid enough to achieve financial goals, like retirement?

ESG strategies have performed as well or better than traditional strategies when investment returns are adjusted for how much risk is involved in the investments. (See, This makes sense, since ESG strategies seek to invest in companies with sustainable, low-risk strategies. For example, even one environmental or social misstep can cause a company's share price to be negatively affected. Consider recent oil spills, labor problems, and safety issues as recent examples of ESG policies impacting share prices.

4. What are the costs associated with ESG investing?

The costs for an ESG investment tend to be in line with or slightly higher than non-ESG investments. This is because, in addition to traditional investment analysts, ESG investments employ analysts to focus on uncovering ESG issues.

5. What are the drawbacks to ESG investing?

By definition, ESG strategies avoid investing in such companies that promote alcohol, tobacco, weapons, oil and gas. While this serves the investors' personal values, it also reduces the diversification of investments that can be a key to good investment performance. Also, investors who concentrate their investments in green investments are also exposed to the greater regulatory and governmental policy risks that affect those industries.

Several websites provide information to investors who want to learn more about ESG investing, including Your trusted financial advisor will also be able to provide more information on the subject.


Investing in the stock market involves gains and losses and may not be suitable for all investors. The investment's socially responsible focus may limit the investment options available to the investment and may result in returns lower than those from investments not subject to such investment considerations.


Investments are subject to risk, including the loss of principal. Because investment return and principal value fluctuate, shares may be worth more or less than their original value. Some investments are not suitable for all investors, and there is no guarantee that any investing goal will be met. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Talk to your financial advisor before making any investing decisions.


Samuel Financial LLC is located at 858 Washington Street, Dedham, MA 02026 and can be reached at 781.461.6886.  Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, member FINRA/SIPC, a registered investment adviser.

What's New?



Welcome Attorney Pamela B. Greenfield!


PAMELA B. GREENFIELD is a Senior Associate who joined Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC in January 2015.  Prior to joining the firm, Attorney Greenfield practiced in Raynham and Boston, Massachusetts at Oalican Law Group, LLC (formerly Cohen & Oalican, LLP). She received her law degree from New England School of Law and her J.B.A. with distinction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she majored in journalism.


Attorney Greenfield focuses her practice in elder law, estate planning, asset protection planning and complex MassHealth applications and appeals.  She represents families as well as skilled nursing facilities in guardianship and conservatorship matters.  Attorney Greenfield speaks frequently at nursing homes, assisted living facilities and support groups in both Southeastern Massachusetts and the Metro-Boston areas.  She has served as both chair and panelist for various Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) programs.  Attorney Greenfield is an active a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Massachusetts Chapter, where she currently serves on the Board of Directors.  See her full profile here!



Changes are coming to Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC


We have some changes happening in the New Year! We are expanding our office space. We are not moving, just increasing our space to include more offices, another conference room and a new reception area. Our temporary reception area will be the area immediately to the left of the elevator. In the late Spring of 2015, we will debut our new office entrance just down the hall!