Specializing in estate planning, elder law, trusts and estates, estate and gift taxation, guardianship/conservatorship, probate, special needs trusts, postnuptial agreements, MassHealth applications and fair hearing appeals. See blog at elderlaw.info
Since being established in 1996, the Law Offices of Brian E. Barreira have been aiding families and individuals throughout the South Shore of Massachusetts, as well as Plymouth, Norfolk, Bristol and Barnstable Counties, in the areas of estate planning, wills and trusts, probate, probate avoidance, elder law, MassHealth applications and fair hearings, guardianship, conservatorship, estates, trusts, and estate and gift taxation. These issues can be incredibly complex and emotionally draining to deal with, but Attorney Barreira uses his many years of experience to get you the effective results you are hoping for.
In the years since Attorney Barreira began practicing law, he has amassed numerous accolades from his peers. His thorough knowledge of Massachusetts probate laws, as well as federal and Massachusetts tax and governmental benefit laws, helps Attorney Barreira get favorable outcomes for his clients. Attorney Barreira is focused on helping you resolve your legal problems in an effective and cost-effective manner.
AV-Rated - Among his many accolades, Attorney Barreira has since 1992 been AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest recognition possible in the legal industry, for his professionalism and ethics.
Massachusetts SuperLawyer - Attorney Barreira is regularly recognized by his peers as a Massachusetts SuperLawyer, an honor bestowed on less than 5% of practicing lawyers.
Certified Elder Law Attorney - Although Massachusetts does not recognize legal specialties for certification, since 1996 Attorney Barreira has been a Certified Elder Law Attorney. The certification was conducted by the non-profit National Elder Law Foundation, the only national organization accredited by the American Bar Association to certify attorneys in elder law.
Masters of Laws in Taxation - In addition to a law degree, Attorney Barreira has an advanced law degree, an LL.M. in Taxation, awarded in 1990, and incorporates all relevant tax issues into his legal advice.
Expert Witness - Attorney Barreira is called upon by other lawyers to serve as an expert witness in his fields of specialization. He is willing to testify against lawyers if he feels they have not done the right thing.
Legal Writer - Attorney Barreira's first major article, "An Irrevocable Grantor Trust Can Assure Eligibility for Medicaid," published in the prestigious Estate Planning journal in 1989, was the first article published nationally about how to establish an irrevocable trust that worked for both Medicaid and capital gains tax purposes. Now that blogging makes information more easily accessible, he focuses on placing his thoughts about estate planning and elder law issues directly on the internet, and in recent years, his blogs,ElderLaw.info, MassHealth.info, PetTrust.info and EstateTaxation.info have received hundreds of thousands of hits.
118 Long Pond Road, Suite 206
Plymouth MA 02360
Specializing in wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, estate/gift tax planning, special needs trusts, probate avoidance, postnuptial agreements to prevent disinheritances in blended families, as well as MassHealth applications/appeals.
Attorney Barreira thoroughly analyzes your estate and strategizes the best means of transferring your assets, minimizing taxes, establishing guardianship for your minor children, caring for your pets, supporting charitable causes and protecting your family. A thorough estate plan, however, involves much more than just a Will, and covers a variety of important issues, such as health care decision-making, privacy issues, inheritance issues, protection from creditors and nursing home costs, minimizing estate and gift taxes, and probate avoidance. An estate plan often consists of some or all of the following legal documents to manage your assets and health while you are living and to distribute your assets according to your wishes after you are gone:
Last Will and Testament - A document, effective only at death, in which you (1) designate who inherits your probate assets, (2) nominate a personal representative (formerly known as executor) to distribute your probate assets after paying debts and taxes, and (3) if you have a minor child, nominate a guardian to be appointed to care for the minor.
Durable Power of Attorney - This document allows you to appoint a person or bank to handle all of your financial affairs until your death. When a durable power of attorney only becomes effective upon incapacity, it is often referred to as a springing durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney will help avoid the need for conservatorship proceedings in Probate Court, which would involve the need for court permission on many financial transactions. The powers given to the person you appoint in a durable power of attorney must be specifically authorized, so a durable power of attorney must be tailored to your wishes.
Health Care Proxy - This document designates who will make medical decisions for you in the event you are unconscious or mentally impaired, either temporarily or long-term. This document can usually help avoid the need for guardianship proceedings in Probate Court, and can contain a written expression of your preferences for end-of-life care.
HIPAA Authorization This document, which cannot legally be contained within another document, is needed to enable persons of your choice to access your Personal Health Information in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Declaration of Homestead - This is a recordable document that can protect the first $500,000.00 of your home's equity from lawsuits (but we often recommend that purchasing an umbrella policy is a better move).
Trust - A trust can be utilized for differing reasons, including: (1) to avoid probate; (2) to allow somebody of your choosing to manage your assets for you if you become incompetent, and avoid the need for conservatorship proceedings in Probate Court; (3) to provide for the protection of assets for minor or disabled children; (4) to minimize estate taxes for yourself or you and your spouse; (5) to preserve assets in case of a long-term nursing home stay; and (6) to take care of pets. There are many varieties of trusts that can hold assets for the benefit of you and other persons, and trusts can be revocable (completely amendable), irrevocable (mostly or completely unchangeable), or testamentary (included as a part of your Last Will and Testament).
Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement - This document can be limited to protecting the inheritance rights of your children from a prior marriage or relationship. In this office, we often refer to it as an Estate Planning Agreement.
Attorney Brian E. Barreira handles all new matters the same way. In his experience, sometimes clients know all of the important laws that impact them and their decisions, but often clients do not, so he does not get on the telephone with prospective clients and discuss issues in a piecemeal manner. Instead, an initial consultation, which is billable, is scheduled to discuss the client's legal issue(s). A questionnaire is sent to the client to be completed and brought to the initial consultation, thereby allowing the attorney-client team to get right to work on making appropriate decisions. By the end of the initial consultation, which often runs 45-90 minutes, an overall plan is outlined, with Attorney Barreira's usual recommendations focused on creating a simple, practical plan where you handle portions of your legal matters to help keep the overall costs down.
Where some lawyers may offer a free initial consultation, why should a prospective client feel comfortable paying for an initial consultation? We can answer that question with a question: do you really want your lawyer to be on commission? The lawyers who offer a free initial consultation are often gathering information that could have been accomplished by the use of a questionnaire, and are unfortunately in the position of having to recommend something billable to recoup the unbilled time. Armed with your completed questionnaire, Attorney Barreira gets right to work offering practical advice at the initial consultation free of any financial bias.
Do you sell any financial products? No. Some lawyers incorporate commission-based annuity sales into their practices. Attorney Barreira does not sell annuities (which often contain undisclosed commissions), and is available for a second opinion for prospective clients whose proposed plans from other sources may include annuities.
Who is involved in the initial consultation? In order to establish the attorney-client relationship, Attorney Barreira meets alone with the client to discuss the client's wishes regarding health care and assets. The client is the person whose assets and health care are being discussed, except when there is proof that the person is mentally incapacitated. Meeting alone with the client is especially important because there is no attorney-client privilege during any time where anybody else attends the meeting, and also because there is no easy way for a lawyer to be able to defend whatever is decided upon and done against later claims of undue influences if other persons were involved in the planning discussions.
We do not coach clients who wants to draft their own estate planning documents, but for clients who are in fiduciary roles (Personal Representative or Executor of an estate, Trustee of a trust, Guardian or Conservator for an incapacitated person, Agent or Attorney-in-fact under a durable power of attorney), we explain to the client what the client should do and let the client handle as much of the case on his/her own as he/she wants. We also guide clients and their families through the process of applying for governmental benefits, including MassHealth and VA Aid & Attendance.
Since 1996, the law offices of Brian E. Barreira has provided legal services to individuals, married couples, senior citizens, business owners, disabled persons and their families in the areas of estate planning (including wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, health care proxies, buy-sell agreements and prenuptial/postnuptial agreements), long-term care planning (including MassHealth), governmental benefits planning (including SSI), estate and gift tax matters and Probate Court issues (including estates, trusts, will contests, conservatorships and guardianships).
An early leader in the development of elder law as a legal specialty, Brian served during 1990-1996 as the first Chair of the Elder Law Committee of the American Bar Association's General Practice Section. He has also served as President of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Attorneys, and as Chair of the Committee on Long-Term Health Care Issues of the American Bar Association's Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section. After certification of elder law attorneys became available through the National Elder Law Foundation, Brian served on its Examination and Grading Committees.
Among Brian's diverse experiences, he has 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.
Brian is listed in the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Registry of Preeminent Lawyers in the fields of "Elder Law" and "Trusts & Estates, Wills & Probate." He has been selected as a Massachusetts SuperLawyer in 2009-2017.
Brian has been published nationally and in Massachusetts numerous times, and has updated many of those articles and posted them at his main blog, ElderLaw.info.
Prior to opening his own law office in 1996, Brian 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.