Don’t Forget to Evaluate Possible Mental Disabilities

In applying for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits, attorneys and claimants generally focus on physical disabilities. These physical disabilities can include heart problems, back disorders, or respiratory problems.

Many times, possible mental disabilities are not considered. There can be many reasons that this failure to consider occurs. Claimants may not bring the mental symptoms up in applying or to the attorney’s attention. Claimants may be embarrassed or fail to acknowledge that they have a mental condition.

It is important to remember that mental disabilities can qualify a Claimant for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits just as physical disabilities can. Therefore, mental disabilities should not be ignored.

It is not unusual for persons with major physical disabilities to develop severe depression or anxiety. The Social Security Administration does not consider what caused the mental disability. The fact that the mental disability may have been caused by a physical disability does not matter.

If you are experiencing unusual symptoms such as anxiety, depression, sleeping problems, changes in eating, lack of energy, or isolation, you need to bring these symptoms to the attention of your attorney or Social Security worker.

 

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Don’t Use Powers of Attorney After Principal Has Died!

Unfortunately, it is common for agents in powers of attorney to continue to use them to conduct financial business even after the principal has died. Once a principal has died, the agent and the principal’s family or legatees should consult with a succession attorney.

It is important to remember that powers of attorney should never be used to conduct business once the principal has died. The agent has no legal authority to conduct business. Under Louisiana law, the administration of assets is governed by succession law. It will necessary to obtain the proper authority of a court or obtain necessary documentation to obtain the authority to administer the assets and debts of the principal’s estate.

Since the agent lacks legal authority once the principal dies, any actions taken by the agent using the power of attorney to administer the Principal’s estate, can be challenged. This can subject the agent to possible civil litigation and criminal actions.

If you have any questions regarding powers or attorney or succession, please consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

How Often Should I Update My Will?

There is a large public misunderstanding that a will is something set in concrete, that doesn’t change and is to be signed and put away until death.  Yet, it is important for people to review and update their wills regularly. Outdated wills can lead to absurd and unintended consequences upon your death.

Relationships can change. Family members can die. You might divorce. You may find yourself close to one person one day and then have difficulties in that relationship. You may find yourself now closer to another family member.  Also, your estate can change. There are dramatic changes in a person’s property over time. If you keep an annual inventory, you will see marked changes every year when you go to update the inventory.

There are certain major life changes when people should review and revise their wills: If they are getting married, getting divorced, a person mentioned in the will has died, or adopted a child. These life changes will normally create significant revisions in a will.

Also, if you turn sixty-five (65), you will want to review your will. You will probably want to consider Medicaid planning, asset protection and probate avoidance in revising your will.

I normally recommend that people review their wills every four (4) years if none of the other events mentioned above occur. During a four (4) year time period, it is possible to see significant relationship or asset changes that may warrant a revision to your will.

If you have any questions concerning wills, you should consult an experienced estate planning attorney.

 

Kent S. DeJean

 

 

Are Life Insurance Proceeds Part of a Succession?

In Louisiana, the general answer to this question is no. Life insurance proceeds are not part of a succession. This can be confusing because both successions and life insurance claims both result from someone’s death. So, it is often assumed that they are handled together.

However, it is important to remember that life insurance is not part of the estate of the person that died. The decedent doesn’t own the life insurance proceeds. The insurance proceeds are contractual in that they are paid to the beneficiary on the condition of the decedent’s death.

 

So, if there is a beneficiary that has survived the decedent, that beneficiary does not have to open a succession with regard to those insurance proceeds. The surviving beneficiary will probably only have to submit a death certificate and the insurance company’s application to obtain the life insurance proceeds.

However, if the beneficiary named in the life insurance died before the decedent or the decedent named their estate as the beneficiary, these life insurance proceeds would have to be handled in the succession.

If you have any questions concerning successions, you should consult an experience estate planning attorney.

 

Kent S. DeJean

 

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

 

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.

 

 

I Moved to Louisiana And Have A Will Executed in Another State. Should I Get A New Will Done in Louisiana?

It is common for people to move to different states. Potential clients come to my office asking if it is necessary to execute a new will in Louisiana. The answer to the question is somewhat complex.

The legal answer is that the law does not require that you have a Louisiana will. The will of another state can be probated and recognized by a Louisiana Court. There is a special procedure under Louisiana law that allows heirs and legatees to have these out of state wills recognized legally.

The problem with out of state wills is that they are drafted according the laws of that other state. Louisiana law can be very different from other states. Terminology can be very different state to state. Also, certain legal concepts may exist in one and may either be very different or not exist in another.

Although Louisiana courts will attempt to comply with the wishes of the decedent in their out of state will, they still may be unable to implement the directions due to the difference in the law. Sometimes, it may be difficult to implement the intent because there is no such legal concept under Louisiana law.

It is advisable that you have your out of state will examined by a Louisiana attorney to determine whether you need to have a Louisiana will drafted and executed to make sure your intentions are recognized and implemented.

If you have any questions concerning wills, you should contact an experienced estate planning attorney.

 

Kent S. DeJean

Free Senior Workshop

You are invited to attend our Free Senior Work Shop on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 at 12:00pm and 6:00pm at the East Baton Rouge Library – Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd. Baton Rouge, LA. Please RSVP seating is limited.  Please call to reserve 225-892-9702

When Can I Get My Full Social Security Retirement Benefits?

 

When you can obtain full retirement, benefits are determined by your date of birth. If you were born between 1943 and 1954, full retirement age is 66. Between 1955 and 1959, full retirement gradually climbs toward 67 if your birthday falls between 1955 and 1959. For those born in 1960 or later, full retirement age is 67. When you turn 62, you can apply for Social Security retirement benefits but, taking benefits before your full retirement age results in a reduction of as much as 25% of your benefit. Further, this reduction would be permanent. If you have any questions about Social Security, you should consult an experienced Social Security attorney. Kent S. DeJean