Since 1996, the Law Offices of Brian E. Barreira has provided legal services to parents, senior citizens, younger disabled persons and their families in the areas of estate planning, long-term care planning (including MassHealth), governmental benefits planning (including SSI), estate and gift tax matters and Probate Court issues (including estates, trusts, guardianships and conservatorships). I am dedicated to providing the highest level of legal expertise to clients while attempting to keep matters as simple as possible to hold clients' overall costs down.
Among my diverse experiences, I have served as a background source on elder financial abuse reports for the Boston Globe Spotlight Team and 60 Minutes; as an undercover informant for the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office in shutting down an organization that was fraudulently selling trusts to senior citizens; and as an expert witness in a recent case opposing the fees of two lawyers who attempted to charge over $500,000 for an 83-day temporary guardianship.
I have spoken nationally at American Bar Association Annual Meetings in Orlando, Florida and San Francisco, California, at Elder Law Symposia in San Diego, California, Orlando, Florida, Atlanta, Georgia and New York City, New York, at Elder Law Institutes in Colorado Springs, Colorado and St. Louis, Missouri, and at the Advanced Estate Planning Institute of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Coronado, California.
In Massachusetts, I have spoken for the Massachusetts Bar Association's Probate Law Section, the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder law Attorneys, the Advanced Legal Studies Program of Suffolk Law School, the Cape Cod Estate Planning Council, the Bristol County Estate Planning Council, the Plymouth County Bar Association, the Plymouth District Bar Association and Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education.
Studley v. Bullen was a Superior Court case I handled from 2000 to 2002 regarding how the MassHealth (i.e, Medicaid) disqualification period is supposed to be calculated when gifts are found during the lookback period. The case took 3 years, including a detailed telephone survey of the 420 nursing homes in Massachusetts, before the Division of Medical Assistance finally backed down and put a proper procedure in place to calculate the average cost of Massachusetts nursing home care, as required under federal Medicaid law. In the end, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts not only settled the case, but also paid my client's legal fees.
In Temporary Guardianship of Kenneth Simon, a Barnstable County, Massachusetts case, a Probate Court judge presided over a lengthy trial on the fees in the Temporary Guardian's First and Final Account and ruled in 2010 that the two attorneys involved in the case had to reimburse the sum of $328,770.97 to the decedent's estate. I was the expert witness hired by the persons who were challenging the fees. The Temporary Guardian had been in charge of Kenneth Simon's personal and financial affairs for a mere 83 days before his death, yet the Account had included legal and fiduciary fees of well over $500,000. The Temporary Guardian and his lawyers had initiated divorce, annulment and estate planning actions without even attempting to determine whether Kenneth Simon would have wanted these actions, and the judge agreed with my opinion that Kenneth Simon's wishes and preferences should have been everyone's first and foremost concern. More about this case, including the judge's 32-page decision, can be found at http://wp.me/pRFoy-3Y.
I believe that a free initial consultation puts a lawyer in the position of trying to recoup the free time and possibly selling something that the client doesn't really need. I always charge for the initial conference with the client based on my hourly rate. We have our new clients fill out a questionnaire before the first meeting, and we get right to the task of trying to deal with the client's concerns. If we are preparing documents for the client, we often schedule the follow-up meeting on the way out of the first meeting, so all of us have a deadline to get things done. Depending on the issues, many clients have their problems resolved in two meetings.
Monday through Friday
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Weekends by appointment only.
Kristin A. Cully.
I have always been very good at math, so I naturally gravitated towards the field of estate and gift tax planning, which is heavily numbers-oriented. Once I was in the estate planning field, I realized that the costs of a long-term nursing home stay was potentially a much bigger hit than estate taxes against the estates of the middle class, so I started asking clients about that issue and writing articles about the topic. Because Medicaid was not commonly thought about by estate planners at that time, I became one of the early leaders in the field of elder law, both in the American Bar Association and in Massachusetts.
I want my clients to know more about what they are doing, and that's why I spend so much time writing my blog, elderlawblog.info . Although there are lots of complicated laws and regulations in my fields of estate planning, probate and elder law, it's important that clients at least see the "big picture," so that they will feel more comfortable after they've made choices (based on my suggestions) on how to proceed.
I spend a lot of time in my practice improving my own documents, and do not like to be put in the position of reviewing documents that were initially prepared by clients or even other lawyers. I think it's less expensive for the client if I draft the documents myself, rather than trying to figure out what might be missing, ambiguous or inaccurate in someone else's documents.
I always attempt to give clients guidance on what they can do without my involvement. Many estates, trusts, guardianships, conservatorships and MassHealth (i.e., Medicaid) applications are handled by the clients themselves, with my main involvement being giving them the big picture and helping them avoid traps for the unwary. If they need help or don't want to handle these matters on their own, we have the staff available to do as much of the tasks as the clients want us to handle.
Prior to opening my own law office in 1996, I worked for 11+ years settling complex estates at State Street Bank and Trust Company in Boston, Massachusetts and practicing estate planning, probate, and elder law for law firms in Boston and Plymouth, Massachusetts.
My LL.M. (Masters) in Taxation allows me to spot tax issues that many other lawyers could miss. I have a business degree from Boston College, and run my own small business, so I am attuned to the problems faced by small businesses. I also was an employee for 12 years after law school, so I am attuned to what employees go through. In addition, my family and my wife's family have had to deal with the issues of aging relatives, so I have a good idea of what caregivers are going through.
My style is to deal with clients at personal meetings, not on the telephone. I have new clients complete a questionnaire before their first meeting with me, so that I have a lot of information in front of me and we can get right to the task of resolving the client's concerns. If we decide that I will be drafting documents for the client, we immediately schedule a follow-up appointment so that we all have a deadline for getting matters completed.Personal interests:
Although the older I get, the more interest I have in history and science, I have had two consistent interests throughout my life: (1) I have always been interested in advertising, and even looked into being hired as an advertising copywriter around the time of being sworn into the Massachusetts Bar. I collect pre-1930's illustrated magazine advertisements, and display some of them framed on the walls of my offices. (2) Another big interest of mine has always been baseball, and I am fortunate to have attended Game 1 of the World Series at Fenway Park in both 2004 and 2007. For several years, I have participated in online baseball simulations at www.whatifsports.com, and, following in my footsteps, at age ten my son recently became the youngest champion in the history of that website.
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