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May 2015 Archives

Who should be my agent for my Power of Attorney?

In Illinois, we have powers of attorney for Property. These are documents that allow others to handle financial matters for us. We have powers of Health Care. In some states these are know as a health care proxy. These documents allow your agent to make health care decisions for you if you can not.

Many people are overly focused on spreading around the resposibilities for these positions between their children. You should be most concerned first whether your children would be capable of handling the responsibilities or whether you need to find another relative or friend.

Some people are great with money--responsible and can keep records in order. Others you would never let get close to your checkbook. Financial train wrecks. Some people can make difficult end of life decisions while others would be paralized in making those decisions. 

So the answer is PICK THE BEST PERSON FOR THE JOB. You don't do anybody any favors in asking them to do a job that is beyond their ability. You certainly don't help yourself. Don't worry about hurting someone's feelings because you don't pick them. If I am your attorney I want you to use the most capable person because if you have a problem and need to use the POA then I want to be working with the most capable person. Sometimes the best or only capable person is going to be the agent on both the Power of attorney for Property and the power of attorney for Health Care.

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com

Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

What kind of evidence do I need to prove I am disabled to Social Security?

Let's start with the simple stuff. YOU NEED MEDICAL EVIDENCE. No matter how compelling your story is about why you can't work, you must have medical evidence to support your claim. I have seen Judges who I honestly believe thought the person applying for disability (the claimant)  was disabled but denied the claim because there was not enough medical evidence.

The Social Security Administration likes detailed information about your medical examinations by your doctors and the medical testing that has been done on you. SSA LOVES MEDICAL TESTING.  The reason they love medical testing is because that way they don't have to believe your doctor or you about your medical condition. They are obsessed with the idea that you or your doctor is exaggerating your condition to get benefits. SSA uses doctors under contract to them or the state agency (DDS) which they contract with in  claims for disability benefits. SSA or DDS will send you out for a medical exam if there is not enough medical evidence in your records that they obtain. Generally, these exams are a joke. They are done by doctors on a contract with them and the doctors know that SSA is looking for evidence that you are NOT disabled in order to deny your claim. I doubt the doctor will touch your body during the exam other than to give you a what is know as a straight leg raising test in which the doctor raising your extended leg to determine if and what what level that irritates a nerve in you low back. Most if not all of the information will be collected by a nurse or tech. I am telling you this because if you expect that this exam is going to make up for the lack of evidence in your file you are sadly kidding yourself.

With the expanded Medicaid from Obamacare more people now have "some" access to medical care that did not have that before.  Use the available resources because if you are disabled you probably need some level of medical or mental health care on an ongoing basis. If you are not seeing a doctor you have no medical evidence in most cases. When you visit the doctor review with the doctor all of your current medical issues. If the doctor is not documenting your continuing problems SSA is not going to believe that the issues are continuing but rather that they just come and go. Be honest with your doctor. Some people are embarrassed or afraid of going to doctors for fear of what they may find. The doctor is your partner in your healthcare and you need to be brutally honest and direct in discussing these issues. There is nothing that you are going to tell the doctor that they have not heard before.

 SSA LOVES SPECIALISTS. We all believe specialists because they concentrate in a particular area of medicine know more about that area of medicine. SSA thinks the same thing. If you are not being seen by specialists in the area of medicine that causes you the most significant element of your disability it makes your proof more difficult. Encourage you primary care doctor to give you referrals to specialists who may be more current or knowledgeable about the particular medical issues that are preventing you from working. Your level of care and your condition may improve.

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

What is Probate?

In it's simplest terms, Probate is a legal process to get a person's assets after their death to those are entitled to those assets. If a person dies with a valid will the assets would go to persons designated by the "testator". Testator is the legal name for the person making the will. If the person died without a will then the assets will go to the persons under state law that our lawmakers have decided should receive the property. That is why we something say that if you don't make a will, the state has one for you. It might not be the one you want but it is there. 

In probate, the legal process is dealing with 3 elements. First, it is determining who will receive our property under the terms of our will and if we don't have a will who will receive our assets under the state law that provides for people without a will. Second, the process is designed to try and make sure that the people we owe money to at our death get paid in most situations before the property is distributed to those that are entitled to those assets. The third element of the process is to insure that if there are any disputes as to who is entitled to our assets or whether and how much money we owe is resolved by the Court before all the assets are distributed. In most cases, this third element does not come into play because the first and second element have clear answers.

Obviously, this is an oversimplification as there are a number of very specific steps and time frames  in the process but it gives you conceptually a better idea of the framework of the process. This is a not a do it yourself process. I have been called in a few times by someone trying to navigate this legal process without an attorney only to find they have made errors or assumptions which get them into trouble. When you have to clean up someone's mess it is always more expensive than if the person had come to you in the first place. Please consult an attorney --not aunt Betty or your cousin that had business law in college.

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

How do I change my will?

This is usually done in one of two ways. First, a person may amend their will. In estate planning we call an amendment a "codicil". It is an addition and/or modification to the existing document. When a codicil is done you now have two documents which must be read together. So when you do a codicil  you do not destroy your original will. You need both to understand what the writer wanted to do with his property at his death. The Court will need all codicils and the will. For a codicil to be valid it must meet all the formalities required of a will and be signed and witnessed in the exact same manner as is required of a will. In a codicil reference is usually made to the original will.  This is not a do it yourself project. Always consult with an attorney if you are considering making changes in your current will before you take any action.

Depending on the changes (complexity and number) it might be more efficient to prepare a new will. The new will ordinarily have a provision at the beginning stating that the testator (person making the will) is revoking any prior will. This new will will now be the document that controls the disposition of your property at your death. Again this is not a do it yourself project because if these documents are not prepared properly they may not work as you intended and you won't know what mistake you are making.

The biggest mistake is when people pull out their will prepared by an attorney,  signed and witnessed properly and start marking it up with changes. In Illinois, this will result in the changes being ignored by the probate court or worse yet, the Court determining that you made so many or extensive changes that the entire will is revoked and you have no will at all. You may never realized that you destroyed the effectiveness of the document and that none of the changes will be effective. Always consult an attorney.

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

Studies Confirm Brain Plaque Can Help Predict Alzheimer’s

Two linked studies, published Tuesday in JAMA, also support the central early role in Alzheimer’s of beta amyloid, the protein that creates plaques. Data from nearly 9,500 people on five continents shows that amyloid can appear 20 to 30 years before symptoms of dementia, that the vast majority of Alzheimer’s patients have amyloid and that the ApoE4 gene, known to increase Alzheimer’s risk, greatly accelerates amyloid accumulation.

How to Feel More Confident About Retirement

Here some keys to feeling more confident about your retirement

1.Save in a retirement account. 

2.Get out of debt.

3. Eliminate unnecessary purchases. 

4.Calculate how much you will need for retirement. 

5.Take stock of your retirement income sources.

Read the details in article on April 25, 2015 written by 

Emily Brandon

Emily Brandon is the senior editor for Retirement at U.S. News. You can contact her on Twitter @aiming2retire, circle her on Google+ or email her at ebrandon@usnews.com.