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December 2018 Archives

Possibilities with second trusts for estate planning purposes

It's not unusual for individuals in California looking to effectively manage their estate to establish a trust for this purpose. But there are times when someone with an existing trust may consider creating a second one. This brings to mind a related question - does a second trust revoke the first one? Generally, the answer is no since a trust is not like will in that a new one will not replace the original or prior one. This is because wills usually contain a clause that states that a new one revokes any prior documents of this nature.

Applying for Social Security Disability: The first steps

The path from the first steps of a Social Security Disability claim to final approval can be challenging for California applicants. However, understanding what happens after a claim is submitted can help people feel as if they have a better grasp of the process taking place. When people first apply for SSD benefits, their application is sent to disability determination services, a state agency, for further processing. A caseworker or disability examiner will be assigned to the claimant's application to review materials and investigate the file.

Using beneficiary designations to avoid probate

When a person passes, his or her assets may need to go through probate. However, there are ways in which an individual in California and most other states can keep some or all assets from going through this process. Those who own a home, car or financial asset may be able to add a beneficiary designation to these assets. It may also be possible to create a transfer on death or a payable on death designation, also known as a TOD or POD, respectively.

Does a fast SSD benefits denial mean a weak claim?

When people apply for Social Security disability benefits in California, they may be worried if they receive a quick denial. The process of applying for SSD benefits is known to be lengthy, so applicants may believe that a quick response indicates that they have a particularly weak case. However, the speed at which people receive a response is often entirely unrelated to the merits of their disability claim. Applications for SSD benefits are handled at the first levels by disability examiners who work for disability determination services.

What to know about charitable trusts

California residents who are looking to reduce their tax bill while helping an important cause could do both with a charitable trust. Legally, a charitable trust must focus on helping to solve a problem like reliving poverty or anything else beneficial to the community as a whole. As a general rule, the trustee has a fiduciary duty, which means that the person or entity overseeing it must always act in a beneficiary's best interest.

The roles of the executor and trustee

In California, it is possible for an individual to have an executor or a trustee or both as part of an estate planning team. An executor is someone who represents the estate in the event that it has to go through probate. The trustee is the person who is in charge of a trust, and this person may fulfill that role both before and after its creator passes.

Moving forward after an SSD benefits denial

Applying for Social Security Disability can be an arduous process for many people in California, especially since a large portion of applicants receive denials at the initial level. After receiving a denial, people can either file a new disability application or seek a disability appeal. A new claim generally involves significantly more work or time than filing for an appeal, because the whole process needs to start from the beginning, including completing a new application for disability benefits.

The duties of a trust executor

Trusts are estate planning documents that allow for the distribution of assets after the death of the trust maker. In most cases, trusts have provisions calling for assets to be distributed to specific people, but the trust cannot do the distributing itself. Rather, that is the realm of the trust's executor. People who make trusts in California will appoint an executor as part of the process. The executor of a trust has a number of responsibilities, including managing the trust, filing probate and tax documents, making distributions and accounting for changes in circumstance.

A deteriorating mental condition can be disabling

The Social Security Disability list of impairments sets forth medical conditions that, if met by a disability claimant, generally qualify that person for disability benefits. Categorized by bodily system or function, the list includes mental disorders among the disabling conditions. One problem is that most California claimants suffer from conditions that do not precisely match up with the list's requirements. If that is the case, medical records must be evaluated to gain more specific information about the claimant's condition.

High court to hear SSDI arguments

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in a case that addresses an important part of the Social Security Disability Insurance hearing process. The issue in the case, which is relevant in Social Security actions in California and across the U.S., is whether a vocational expert's opinion can be relied upon if the expert does not provide the data that led to his or her opinion.

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