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March 2018 Archives

How Social Security determines if someone is disabled

When California workers are disabled and can no longer work, they may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. To qualify, someone must have enough work credits, which are earned during the years he or she worked. But the other important qualification is that the Social Security Administration must decide that the worker's disability makes him or her unable to work. The formula for determining disability is somewhat complex and involves the worker's residual functional capacity, or remaining ability to work after becoming disabled.

Tax laws could impact charitable giving choices

The changes to estate tax law that took place as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 have sparked discussion in California and across the country regarding their potential impact on charitable giving as part of estate planning. Over the years, bequests to charities included in a will have been exempt from federal estate taxes, making them particularly appealing to wealthy donors whose gifts to their children and other family members could face significant tax burdens. However, after the individual exemption from estate tax was doubled to $11.18 million, only 0.2 percent of estates in the country could potentially still face federal inheritance taxes.

Reviewing an estate plan

Many California residents realize the importance of having an estate plan. What they may not understand, however, is that estate planning isn't a one-time event. Unfortunately, even a carefully crafted estate plan can eventually become useless if the planner does not make necessary revisions after circumstances change.

What to do if a social security appeal is late

If a California resident has his or her social security disability (SSD) benefit claim denied, it may be possible for him or her to appeal that decision. An applicant has 60 days to appeal the decision plus five days for mailing it in. However, there are valid reasons why an appeal may be sent in after that deadline passes. For instance, it may be acceptable to do so if necessary records were destroyed in a natural disaster or if there was a death in the family.

Filing a probate claim when estates are contested

A major goal for many California estate holders is to prevent probate issues after their passing. However, when issues arise with a will after a person's death, the primary way to resolve the dispute is by filing a probate claim. Once the estate of the deceased individual has been entered into probate, a person making a claim can file a statement with the court that is handling the estate's probate process.

Critieria to receive disability benefits

California residents who are applying for Social Security Disability benefits have two main criteria to meet to obtain them. First, they must have the proper insured status. This means that they have worked a sufficient number of hours prior to applying. Second, they must have been unable to obtain gainful employment because of a physical or mental condition over the past 12 months.

Estate planning and avoiding probate

When creating an estate plan, California residents can often save time and money by avoiding the probate process. While many states have streamlined their probate processes, probating a will can still be disruptive to the distribution of an estate. Another disadvantage of the probate system is that the court records are public.

Points to know about a power of attorney

When you create an estate plan, you need to consider the end of your life. Some aspects of the estate plan actually come into the picture before you pass away. You should think carefully about how decisions on your behalf will be made before you pass away. These include your finances and medical care. Fortunately, you can act now to set up a plan for when you are unable to make decisions for yourself.

Using living trusts

California residents with estate plans that include a revocable living trust may not be using the legal tool to its full advantage. This could result in a waste of the legal fees paid to create the trust and heirs not being able to reap the benefits of the trust as they should.

Total disability assessments in SSD applications

People in California applying for Social Security Disability may wonder how the Social Security Administration assesses whether or not an applicant is totally disabled. The government agency uses a standard of total disability to determine whether a person is sufficiently disabled to be eligible to receive disability benefits. According to the administration, total disability can be described as the inability to engage in a work activity to earn a substantial, gainful wage for a period of at least one year.

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