The Biggest Mistake Made by Social Security Claimants

 

One of the biggest mistakes that people make in applying for Social Security benefits is that they believe and assume that the Social Security Administration is their advocate. They believe that the Social Security Administration is advocating for them and taking care of their cases. The truth is that the Social Security Administration is a federal administrative body to administer claims. Don’t get me wrong. The people that work with the Social Security Administration are good hard-working people.

But the Social Security Administration is not the claimant’s attorney. Although the Social Security Administration will assist to some degree in getting medical evidence, it is the responsibility of the clamant to obtain and submit medical evidence. The Social Security Administration will not assist a person in advocating the claimant’s claims. Without an attorney, claimant’s find that they are representing themselves. They will find that their claims have been denied because evidence was not received or important parts of their cases were not submitted. To add insult to injury, it is difficult to appeal these decisions.

It is very important that a claimant consult with an experienced attorney that handles Social Security cases. A claimant’s case is important to them. The process in obtaining benefits is a long one and often times, the claimant is experiencing financial distress. Time is of the essence. So, it is important that claimant make the most of their opportunity to make sure that their cases are being properly presented.

Kent S. DeJean

 

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Small Successions

In the past, many heirs were reluctant to open legal succession in Louisiana due to the fees and costs. There is a perception that opening a succession even for a small one, is expensive.

However, recent Louisiana legislation now makes completing a small succession relatively easy without having to file succession pleadings and incurring expensive fees and costs.

If the decedent died without a will and the net value of the decedents estate is worth less than $ 75,000.00, then this type of small succession may be done by affidavit.

The heirs will be required to follow the statutory requirements as to its execution and form for this affidavit.

This small succession procedure affidavit is not the answer for all small successions. If the heirs are fighting, if there is litigation, or if the assets and debts are not known, it may still be necessary to open a legal succession with the courts.

As always, heirs should consult an experienced succession attorney before taking any action on their own regarding a succession.

 

 

Can I Discharge My Student Loan in Bankruptcy?

The general answer is no. Student loans are not automatically discharged in bankruptcy. In fact, they are exempt from discharge.

In order to discharge the student loan, a debtor must file a special lawsuit called an adversarial proceeding to prove that the student loan poses an “undue hardship”. This is a very difficult burden to prove since the debtor must show that not only the debtor cannot pay the loan payments now but, that they will be unable to pay them in the future as well. Because of the high burden, discharges on student loans are limited to persons with health or disability issues.

If you have a question concerning bankruptcy, you should contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney.

 

Kent S. DeJean

 

 

Free Senior Talk

There will be a Free Senior talk given at the Wyndham Garden Hotel 5600 Bluebonnet Blvd. Wednesday, March 28, 2018 at 9:30am, 12:00 and 4:00pm.  Call 225-892-9702 to reserve your spot.

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

 

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

 

Do I Need To List Bankruptcy Debts That I Don’t Think That I Owe?

You are required to list all debts that you have whether you believe that you owe them or not. Bankruptcy law requires that you be truthful, complete and accurate. You cannot just leave off debts that in your opinion are not owed.

There is a section for each individual debt which allows you to state whether you believe the debt is contested. You should list the debt and declare it to be contested.

By listing these amounts as contested debts, you are complying with your duty to accurately report all of your debts or potential debts. Further, you are protecting yourself if you are wrong. In the event that the debt is found to be valid and you are wrong, the debt will still be discharged and you will not have to legally pay it.

If you have any questions about bankruptcy, contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Do I Need To List Debts That I Don’t Want To Discharge On My Bankruptcy Schedules?

You are required to list all of your debts regardless of whether you wish to discharge them or not. Bankruptcy law requires that you be truthful, complete and accurate. You can’t just list only the ones you want to talk about. Therefore, a comprehensive list of any and all debts that you have, is required to be presented to the Court.

Some debtors do not want to discharge certain debts. For example, they may have a particular credit card that they wish to continue using after the bankruptcy or they may not discharge the car loan. You certainly have the right to reaffirm any debts that you don’t want discharged as long as it is voluntary and is in your best interests. There are specific procedures that must be followed to get a reaffirmation agreement approved by the Court.

In the meantime, list all debts.

If you have any questions about bankruptcy, contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Seven Tips to Help You Determine if Your Gift is Taxable

If you gave money or property to someone as a gift, you may wonder about the federal gift tax. Many gifts are not subject to the gift tax. Here are seven tax tips about gifts and the gift tax.
1.    Nontaxable Gifts.  The general rule is that any gift is a taxable gift. However, there are exceptions to this rule. The following are not taxable gifts:

  • Gifts that do not exceed the annual exclusion for the calendar year,
  • Tuition or medical expenses you paid directly to a medical or educational institution for someone,
  • Gifts to your spouse (for federal tax purposes, the term “spouse” includes individuals of the same sex who are lawfully married),
  • Gifts to a political organization for its use, and
  • Gifts to charities.
  1.  Annual Exclusion. Most gifts are not subject to the gift tax. For example, there is usually no tax if you make a gift to your spouse or to a charity. If you give a gift to someone else, the gift tax usually does not apply until the value of the gift exceeds the annual exclusion for the year. For 2014 and 2015, the annual exclusion is $14,000.

    3.    No Tax on Recipient.  Generally, the person who receives your gift will not have to pay a federal gift tax. That person also does not pay income tax on the value of the gift received.

    4.    Gifts Not Deductible.  Making a gift does not ordinarily affect your federal income tax. You cannot deduct the value of gifts you make (other than deductible charitable contributions).

    5.    Forgiven and Certain Loans.  The gift tax may also apply when you forgive a debt or make a loan that is interest-free or below the market interest rate.

    6.    Gift-Splitting.  You and your spouse can give a gift up to $28,000 to a third party without making it a taxable gift. You can consider that one-half of the gift be given by you and one-half by your spouse.

    7.    Filing Requirement.  You must file Form 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, if any of the following apply:

  • You gave gifts to at least one person (other than your spouse) that amount to more   than the annual exclusion for the year.
  • You and your spouse are splitting a gift. This is true even if half of the split gift is less than the annual exclusion.
  • You gave someone (other than your spouse) a gift of a future interest that they can’t actually possess, enjoy, or from which they’ll receive income later.
  • You gave your spouse an interest in property that will terminate due to a future event.

For more information, see Publication 559, Survivors, Executors, and Administrators. You can view, download and print tax products on IRS.gov/forms anytime.