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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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

 

 

 

 

The Social Security Strategy

There is a limited window of opportunity to take benefit of a Social Security strategy that could increase your Social Security monthly benefits.
If you were born April 30th 1950 or earlier you can file for benefits at full retirement age and then suspend them to earn delayed retirement credit while allowing a spouse to collect benefits on your record while you delay  An a married couple  has  until April 29th of 2016.
Also if  you were born before April 30th 1950 or earlier , an  individual can file and suspend. If circumstances change the individual can go back and collect the  suspended benefits. However, future benefits will be based on the earlier filing date. The suspension must be filed by April 29th 2016 .
If you  and your spouse were born between May 1st 1950 and January 1st 1954 you can still file a restricted application for benefits until April 29th of 2016. One spouse can choose whether to take a spousal benefits or one based on their work record.
If you are in this age group it is important that you seek advice and take action before April 29th 2016.

Medicaid Eligibility & Spousal Retirement Accounts

 

 

Currently there are 31 states* where Medicaid treats a community spouse’s IRA account as a countable resource. Thus, before an institutionalized spouse can qualify for Medicaid benefits, the community spouse’s IRA account must be either protected or spent-down.

Protecting the Community Spouse’s IRA

The best way to protect the community spouse’s IRA account is to make it part of his or her community spouse resource allowance (CSRA). In 2015, with the maximum CSRA being $119,220, if a couple had total countable resources of $275,000 ($175,000 of which was in the community spouse’s IRA account) the community spouse would be advised to leave $119,220 in the IRA account. As for the balance of $55,780, the community spouse would further be advised to invest the amount into a tax-qualified DRA compliant immediate annuity (Tax-Qualified Annuity, or TQA).

Taxation and the Community Spouse’s IRA

The $119,220 remaining in community spouse’s IRA account would not be subject to income taxation. As for the funding of the TQA – which was accomplished by an IRA Direct Transfer (preferred method) or a 60-day IRA Rollover** – the funding transaction would not be subject to income taxation. However, as the community spouse receives the monthly payments from the TQA, he or she would be taxed on the payments received in the given year.

Eliminating the Remaining Spend-Down

As for the remaining spend-down of $100,000, the community spouse would be advised to invest the amount into a DRA compliant immediate annuity (DCIA). Since a DCIA involves after-tax dollars, unlike the TQA, which involves pre-tax dollars, only a small portion of each payment is subject to income taxation in the year of receipt.

One Annuity versus Two Annuities

For purposes of simplicity, some clients have requested to use only one annuity rather than the two detailed above. However, because the Internal Revenue Code does not allow qualified funds (pre-tax) to be mixed with non-qualified funds (post-tax), two annuity contracts are required.

Conclusion

At Krause Financial Services, we understand that Medicaid planning with IRAs is complicated. However, between our unique annuity product line and vast state-specific Medicaid knowledge, we are more than equipped to handle your most challenging cases. So, if you have a case involving a countable IRA, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We look forward to it!

IRS TAX TIPS FOR DEDUCTING GIFTS TO CHARITY

The holiday season often prompts people to give money or property to charity. If you plan to give and want to claim a tax deduction, there are a few tips you should know before you give. For instance, you must itemize your deductions. Here are six more tips that you should keep in mind:

1. Give to qualified charities. You can only deduct gifts you give to a qualified charity. Use the IRS Select Check tool to see if the group you give to is qualified. You can deduct gifts to churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies. This is true even if Select Check does not list them in its database.

2. Keep a record of all cash gifts.  Gifts of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card and payroll deduction. You must have a bank record or a written statement from the charity to deduct any gift of money on your tax return. This is true regardless of the amount of the gift. The statement must show the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Bank records include canceled checks, or bank, credit union and credit card statements. If you give by payroll deductions, you should retain a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other document from your employer. It must show the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity.

3. Household goods must be in good condition.  Household items include furniture, furnishings, electronics, appliances and linens. These items must be in at least good-used condition to claim on your taxes. A deduction claimed of over $500 does not have to meet this standard if you include a qualified appraisal of the item with your tax return.

4. Additional records required.  You must get an acknowledgment from a charity for each deductible donation (either money or property) of $250 or more. Additional rules apply to the statement for gifts of that amount. This statement is in addition to the records required for deducting cash gifts. However, one statement with all of the required information may meet both requirements.

5. Year-end gifts.  Deduct contributions in the year you make them. If you charge your gift to a credit card before the end of the year it will count for 2015. This is true even if you don’t pay the credit card bill until 2016. Also, a check will count for 2015 as long as you mail it in 2015.

6. Special rules.  Special rules apply if you give a car, boat or airplane to charity. If you claim a deduction of more than $500 for a noncash contribution, you will need to file another form with your tax return. Use Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions to report these gifts. For more on these rules, visit IRS.gov.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.