Skip to main content


Showing posts from July, 2017

Divorce and Frozen Pensions

Over the past decade, economic circumstances have played a major role in pension plans being frozen at a large number of corporations. Many traditional defined-benefit plans provide a monthly annuity payment to employees at retirement. A freeze on a pension plan means that the plan does not make any further additions to the employee's benefit. The traditional formula for determining benefits is based upon salary and years of service. The benefits grows larger with the numbers of years employed and with increases in salary. When a pension plan is frozen, the benefit ceases to grow and is locked in at the amount when the "freeze" occurs. A frozen pension plan will still pay benefits; it's just that there won't be as much to pay out since it was frozen. many people earn their largest amounts of income just prior to retirement. Those who are closest to retirement will see the largest portions of expected additional benefits denied them due to the pension being fro

SSD Fraud Affects Everyone

Depending on who you talk to, Social Security Disability (SSD) fraud is either running rampant or it's a fairly infrequent occurrence - more likely, it's somewhere in between. The bottom line is that it happens. Fraudulent claims anywhere across the country can be detrimental to your legitimate claim in a number of ways: Getting your claim approved becomes more difficult. The social security administration doesn't like it when it finds out that numerous people are poaching the system and making off with undeserved benefits. The SSA clamps down on approvals throughout the country, which doesn't bode well even for legitimate claims. Benefits are denied to those who need them most. When people bilk the system, the federal government is less likely to provide the necessary funding to cover SSD benefits in all states. It drags out case processing times. Processing times are already extraordinarily drawn out. When great chunks of time are spent on fraudulent claims, it m

"100 Deadliest Days"

The stretch between memorial Day and Labor Day has been called the "100 Deadliest Days" by AAA, as the number of fatal car crashes involving teen drivers spikes during this time. Over 5,000 deaths have been reported over the summer for the past five years, a rate that is 16 percent high than other times of the year. Teens drive more over the summer than other times of the year since school is out. They frequently drive greater distances as well, traveling to summer jobs or heading to the beach or other vacation destinations. In addition, teen drivers are generally the least experienced drivers out there and are the age group that's most likely to drive while distracted. All these circumstances make for a violate combination. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that a whopping 60 percent of crashes involving teen drivers were due to distracted driving. The organization conducted a study from 2007- 2015 in which teen drivers' cars were equipped with a camera

Filing for Bankruptcy May Be an Option for the Elderly

Staggering medical bills, rising prescription medication costs, and declining pension amounts, among other factors can lead to a mountain of debt for seniors. Instead drawing down available retirement assets, declaring bankruptcy might be a better option for some. In basic terms, Chapter 7 bankruptcy enables you to discharge many of your debts. However, nonexempt assets may need to be sold to pay creditors. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to maintain all of your assets as you work out a new payment plan to pay creditors over a 3-5 year period. IF you have a large amount of equity in your home, you'll need to know how much is protected during bankruptcy proceedings. Amounts vary from state to state. Some states protect the full value of a home; other protect only a small amount, which could lead to the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee selling the home in order to pay creditors. Medical-bill debt can be wiped out under Chapter 7 proceedings. Keep in mind that bankruptcy only elimi

Probate - What It Is and Why You Should Avoid It When Possible

Probate is a legal process by which the court establishes the validity of a will; determines the value of the estate; resolves issues with payment of creditors, taxes, and other debts; and distributes assets to heirs. It also has some serious drawbacks. For one thing, probate is a public process; financial privacy goes out the window. Probate can also drag out for months, sometimes over a year, due to court hearings and other court-related matters. Last but not least, probate can be expensive. Attorney and executor fees can drain up to 5 percent of an estate's value in some circumstances. Throw in appraiser's fees and court costs, among other expenses, and heirs take a significant hit in the final estate distribution. There are a number of tools available to minimize (or eliminate) the toll probate takes on an estate. Properly designate beneficiaries or title assets so they transfer directly to beneficiaries (apart from a will) - e.g., life insurance policies, IRAs, annuiti

Challenging a Drug-possession Charge

If a person is charged with possession of illegal drugs, their attorney may seek to challenge the prosecution on one or more grounds: refuting the stated facts, testimony, or evidence; zeroing in on procedural missteps; or pressuring the prosecution to provide all necessary evidence at trial. A defendant has the right to due process of law, including search-and-seizure protocol that is carried out properly. For example, if drugs were spotted "in plain view" in their car, they can be used as evidence. If a trunk was pried open without the defendant's consent, that's another matter altogether. A defendant can also claim they hadn't the foggiest idea that the drugs were in their residence or vehicle, and that the drugs must be someone else's. A skilled defense attorney can put the squeeze on the prosecution to prove "ownership". An attorney will force prosecutors to produce, in court, the actual drugs involved in the case. This isn't always a

A Look at the Adoption Process

Adoption can be a long and emotional undertaking. Familiarity with adoption rules and procedures can benefit would-be adoptive parents. For an adoption to be legal, the birth parents must consent to the adoption - unless they have been legally stripped of their parental rights (e.g., unfitness). Most states do not permit the parents to sign a consent form until the child is born. In some states, birth parents need to wait three or four days. Even after a child has been placed in their adoptive home, in many states the birth parents still have a window of time during which they can change their mind- a period of angst for the adoptive parents. Understandably, some states require counseling for birth parents before they sign a consent form. Prospective adoptive parents will undergo a "home study" to make sure they are fit to raise a child. A state agency or licensed social worker will investigate issues such as marital stability, lifestyle, financial situation, physical a

Avoiding a Misdiagnosis... Trying to Detect Breast Cancer

The numbers are scary; there's simply no other way to put it. Breast cancer continues to take a terrible toll on women's lives and their families. In 2015, nearly 300,000 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed, of which over 230,000 were invasive breast cancer (cancer that spreads from the milk duck to surrounding breast tissue and then sometimes throughout the body). That same year, over 40,000 women died from breast cancer, making it the second most lethal cancer in women, behind only lung cancer. As with any cancer, early detection is critical in prolonging survival. Unfortunately, diagnosing breast cancer in its earliest stages can be challenging, and there are often errors and disagreements over whether a suspicious area is benign or malignant. While there aren't always clear signs and symptoms of breast cancer, self-examinations can often reveal potential trouble. In fact, it's estimated that nearly 70 percent of all breast cancers are found through self-

Updating Your Will

One of the most common misconceptions people have about wills is that they're basically a "set it and forget it" type of deal. Meaning that once you've got the document in place, you really don't have to make changes to it. The reality is that wills should be updated throughout your life to account for important changes that happen to you and to make sure your assets are distributed in the manner in which you had intended. Some life changes or circumstances that could warrant a change to your will can include: If you find yourself no longer getting along with the executor or a beneficiary of your will. If there is the death of a beneficiary or the birth of a new family member.  If the size of your estate has significantly increased or decreased. If you decided that you want to change the amounts you are leaving to beneficiaries. If you move to another state.  If changes aren't made to a will it won't necessarily invalidate the document, but at