My Application for Social Security Benefits Has Been Denied! What Do I Do?

Appeal as soon as possible! You should appeal your denial of benefits as soon as possible. For unfavorable decisions from the local office and the administrative law judge, you have only sixty (60) days to file an appeal.

If you don’t file an appeal within sixty (60) days, your decision will become final and you will not be able to appeal it. Your only other possible option will be to re-apply with the local office.

By not appealing, you could lose significant back payments for Social Security benefits.

You should also appeal right away because the appeal process already takes a long time before you will receive a decision. Every day, week and month that you delay is adding additional time to what is already a slow process.

Appeals sent by mail can be lost and misplaced. I recommend that clients hand deliver their appeal form to the Social Security office.  Make sure that the appeal form is stamped with a receipt date and make sure that you have them also stamp the receipt on your own copy. This way if the appeal is lost, you will have proof that you filed your appeal.

You do not have to have an attorney to appeal an unfavorable decision. However, I do recommend that should you obtain an unfavorable decision that you consult with an experienced Social Security attorney. Kent S. DeJean

 

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Don’t Delay in Getting A Powers of Attorney!

It is very common for people to put off executing powers of attorney. In fact, recent studies show that 80% of adults do not have an executed power of attorney. Most people think that powers of attorneys are for people that are sick or old.

In the real world, none of us are guaranteed capacity even today. An accident or health issue can take our mental or physical capacity away from us quickly without prior warning. We would be unable to take care of our own person and property. No one can predict when a person will lose capacity.

The execution of a valid durable powers of attorney is relatively quick, easy and fast. When a person fails to plan in advance, that person is “playing with fire”. Many learn the lesson the hard way. They wait until it is too late.  The family may be unable to get the power of attorney executed because the person has lost capacity. The family may have the person sign a power of attorney where capacity is an issue. This can lead to family disputes and/or challenges to the document.

If you have any questions concerning powers of attorney, living wills and advanced medical directives, you should contact an experienced estate planning attorney.

Kent S. DeJean

 

Powers of Attorney: Always Have A Plan B!

The decision on who should be your agent for your power of attorney is usually a fairly easy one. Most people will usually select their spouse or a close friend or family member. However, the more difficult question is who does a person want to serve as the successor agent in the event that the agent is unwilling or unable to serve.

It is strongly advised that you name a successor agent in the event that the agent is unwilling or unable to serve. Your agent may die, become incapacitated or simply not wish to serve for any reason. If your agent is unwilling or unable to serve, an interdiction proceeding will have to be filed to appoint you a guardian to administer your person and property if you failed to name a successor agent.

Therefore, always name a backup successor agent in your power of attorney. Never assume that an agent will be willing or able to serve as your agent when and if you lose capacity.

If you have any questions concerning powers of attorney, consult an experienced estate planning attorney.

Kent S. DeJean

 

 

 

Video Taping The Execution Of A Will

 

Under Louisiana law, there is no legal requirement that the execution of a will be videotaped. Further, there is no such thing as a video will. Louisiana law has specific form requirements for wills. Videotaped wills are not one of those approved forms.

However, videotaping of wills may be very useful in certain limited situations. Let’s say that it is anticipated that the capacity of the person executing the will may be contested in the subsequent succession. This would be a situation where it would be useful to video tape the execution of the will.

Videotaping would show that the person executing the will understood what it meant, consented to the will and was under no duress. It would also be helpful to interview the person executing the will by asking open ended questions about why the bequests were made as well as to show capacity.

So, videotaping is not a will in and of itself. However, it can provide valuable evidence to show that the person executing the will possessed legal capacity to sign it.

Should you have any questions on wills, you should consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

When can a someone get Social Security spousal benefits based on the record of their spouse?

A person may be eligible for a monthly benefit up to one half (½) of their spouse’s retirement or Social Security disability amounts. This spousal benefit is subject to limitations as to the total amount that can be paid to an entire family

A person who is sixty-two (62) years or older may be eligible for spousal benefits if the other spouse is drawing a retirement or Social Security disability.

Further, a person who is any age, may be eligible for spousal benefits if that person is caring for a child if the other spouse is drawing a retirement or Social Security disability benefit. That child must be younger than sixteen (16) years of age or disabled and that child must be entitled to benefits on the other spouse’s record.

Kent DeJean

 

 

Beware of Revocable Living Trusts!

 

Many consumers are executing Revocable Living Trusts. They are being sold on this product on the promise to avoid a succession and probate.

Revocable Living Trusts do help the person avoid succession and probate. But, that’s all it does and this benefit may not be as valuable as one might initially think.

Some Revocable Living Trusts are expensive and may costs as much as a small uncontested non-problematic succession. So, the financial benefit that you get, may not be as great as you think.

What is important to remember is what Revocable Living Trusts do not do! Revocable Living Trusts are revocable. This means you can remove any property you put into that trust at any time.

Since you can remove the property from the trust, there is no asset protection. If you owe money, your creditors will be able to seize whatever assets you placed into the trust.

Also, you obtain no tax advantage to creating a Revocable Living Trust. You will continue to pay your taxes the same way you always have paid them.

Finally, placing property in a Revocable Living Trust does not shelter it from government entities for you to pay for your long-term nursing home care. Medicaid and the Veteran’s Administration will count all property placed into a Revocable Living Trust just like you own it. There is a five (5) year look back period for Medicaid and there may also soon be a look back period with the Veteran’s Administration. You may be missing out on an opportunity to shelter your assets while you are healthy by placing your assets into a Revocable Living Trust.

To obtain additional information on legal and innovative estate planning strategies, you should always consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Video Taping the Execution of a Will

Under Louisiana law, there is no legal requirement that the execution of a will be videotaped. Further, there is no such thing as a video will. Louisiana law has specific form requirements for wills. Videotaped wills is not one of those approved forms.

However, videotaping of wills may be very useful in certain limited situations. Let’s say that it is anticipated that the capacity of the person executing the will may be contested in the subsequent succession. This would be a situation where it would be useful to video tape the execution of the will.

Videotaping would show that the person executing the will understood what it meant, consented to the will and was under no duress. It would also be helpful to interview the person executing the will by asking open ended questions about why the bequests were made as well as to show capacity.

So, videotaping is not a will in and of itself. However, it can provide valuable evidence to show that the person executing the will possessed legal capacity to sign it.

Should you have any questions on wills, you should consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Reasons A Succession May Need An Executor Or Administrator

 

Many people are surprised to learn that under Louisiana law, an heir or legatee is not required to have an executor/administrator appointed by the court to administer the estate of a person that has died. In fact, the heirs and legatees are placed directly into possession without the need for an administration in most Louisiana succession.

However, there are situations where having an executor/administrator appointed by the court to administer the estate of a person that has died, is recommended.

  1. We don’t know what the decedent property owned or debts that were owed at the time of death. It may be necessary to appoint an administrator or executor to investigate. Through this appointment, an executor or administrator will have the power to change the mailing address for bills and statements, open mail, and speak to banks and other companies in order to investigate.

 

  1. The heirs or legatees are fighting. If there is a dispute amount their heirs or legatees of the decedent, it may be necessary to appoint an executor or administrator administer the estate or facilitate completion of the succession pending litigation of the disputes.

 

  1. There maybe lawsuits pending. If there is litigation pending either on behalf of the decedent or against the decedent, it may be necessary to administer the estate while the litigation is pending. Otherwise, the heirs and legatees may not know whether the estate is solvent or not.

 

  1. There may be an ongoing business. It may be necessary to manage an ongoing business which the decedent had an ownership interest pending the completion of the succession to prevent problems with continuation of business activities.

 

If you have any questions concerning successions, you should consult an experienced estate attorney. Kent S. DeJean

 

 

 

 

Special Needs Trust

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Great News! 

 It is now easier to establish a self-settled Special Needs Trust for your clients. Effective date as of December 31, 2016, Section 1917 (d)(4) (A) was revised to allow an individual with a disability as defined by the Social Security Act to establish his or her own Special Needs Trust.  

Now, it is no longer necessary to have a court establish the Special Needs Trust. The new Federal Law, “21st Century Cures Act” may reduce the time, money and effort in having to establish a Special Needs Trust.  

We have attached a copy of the applicable section of the Act. If you have clients with a disability receiving means-tested government benefits and receiving a settlement, the client themselves can establish their own Special Needs Trust and protect their government benefits.  

If you have any other questions or need a Special Needs Trust established contact either Pete Losavio or Kent DeJean at (225)769-4200.

!!!DISASTER ALERT!!!

Any assistance received due to a declared major disaster or catastrophe by the President of the United States of America, is permanently excluded as a resource for Medicaid.

The funds provided should be identifiable as disaster funds. The FEMA program money received by flood victims is considered to be disaster assistance, and any interest earned is excluded as an income resource.

If you have any questions or need any further information, please give us a call at 225-769-4200, or visit our website at http://www.LosavioDeJean.com