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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) March 17, 2014 – Legal news outlet JD Supra recently asked attorneys to describe common, costly mistakes people make when preparing estate plans and the best ways to prevent or fix them. Hampton Roads estate planning attorney Andrew Hook weighed in with his take on some of the top issues reported by JD Supra. Procrastination. Too many people, perhaps unwilling to face their own mortality, wait until the very end of their lives to consider any sort of estate planning. Many will never get around to it at all. “The earlier estate planning begins, […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) March 12, 2014 – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently extended a tax break for married couples. The ruling, announced in Revenue Procedure 2014-18, extends the deadline to take advantage of an estate tax break known as “portability.” The break went into effect on an interim basis in 2011, and it was made permanent under the American Taxpayer Relief Tax Act of 2012. “The IRS grants every U.S. citizen a “basic exclusion,” which is a lifetime exclusion amount from estate and gift taxes,” Andrew Hook, a Virginia Beach estate planning attorney, explained. “For 2014, […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) March 4, 2014 – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has proposed that veterans use standardized forms to submit disability claims. This is an idea that would seem in step with the desire to streamline and modernize the process. However, the proposal has veterans groups concerned that many former members of the military will not be able to navigate the new system. Traditionally, veterans have been able to submit claims in a variety of ways, including through simple, handwritten notes. The claim becomes the initial point for retroactive pay reference when and if the filing […]


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Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) March 3, 2014 – Virginia Social Services has mandated that Dwayne Parson, 34, must pay back child support even though he is not the child’s biological father. Child support normally follows an equitable, straightforward formula. But simplicity is not always guaranteed. At least one Virginia man would make a strong case that belies an expectation for a cut-and-dried process as he begins to pay thousands of dollars in back payments for child support for a child he did not father. Parson, of Chesterfield, signed a birth certificate for a child he believed to be his […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) February 28, 2014 – A part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expands treatment for people with developmental disabilities, but some states may leave insurers with ways to sidestep the new requirement. The ACA, commonly called “Obamacare,” requires health insurance plans for individuals and small groups to include coverage for “rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices.” Most insurance plans already cover rehabilitative services, which help people regain skills, such as walking or talking, after a debilitating injury or illness, such as a stroke. “But habilitative services are often excluded,” explains Virginia special needs attorney […]


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Florida confab of lawyer, accountants, etc. discuss new law’s implications. Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) February 28, 2014 – As the annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning reconvened in mid-January in Orlando, Fla., the eagerly anticipated conference of some 2,900 attendees was particularly interested in discussing the impact of recent changes in tax law. And the major engine for change in how lawyers and accountants will approach estate planning is the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. The buzzword for estate planning since the passage of the new law is so-called portability, which allows widows and widowers to carry over […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) February 19, 2014 – Projections show that within 20 years, typical retirees will rely mostly on 401(k)s and other private retirement accounts to meet financial needs. “That may be alarming to some, but the industry is evolving to help meet that challenge,” says Virginia estate planning attorney Andrew Hook. “A number of trends are increasing the effectiveness of 401(k)s and workers’ utilization of them.” Hook identified the following six trends in the retirement investing industry. Increased use of Roth 401(k)s: Like Roth IRAs, Roth 401(k)s are funded with after-tax contributions. Workers pay income taxes […]


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Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) February 6, 2014 – A new bill in Virginia would institute a new, costlier child-support payment schedule. The new year could see a significant increase in Virginia’s child-support payment guidelines if a bill, introduced January 8 in the House of Delegates, becomes law. The measure has some policy advocates grousing that unmerited costs will be imposed upon non-custodial parents if it is enacted. The bill, HR 933, was crafted based on recommendations from the Child Support Guidelines Review Panel and would raise the basic child-support obligations of non-custodial parents. The amounts mandated by its new […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) January 31, 2014 – Beginning January 2014, veterans are covered for five illnesses tied to traumatic brain injury (TBI). Veterans will now find it easier to obtain health care and compensation for five illnesses linked to traumatic brain injury. On December 16, 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) decided to loosen its previously restrictive eligibility policy on providing and covering care for the conditions. The new, more inclusive regulations took effect on January 16. Under previous regulations, veterans who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, dementia, hormone deficiencies related to the hypothalamus, pituitary or adrenal glands, […]


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Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) January 30, 2014 – Legally married same-sex couples must file separate tax returns in Virginia. Virginia may be for lovers but, according to a recent decision by the Virginia Department of Taxation, “lovers” may not include same-sex, married couples — especially those attempting to file a joint tax return. The state’s non-recognition of same-sex marriage for the commonwealth’s tax purposes will remain in force, even though LGBT couples are now permitted to file joint federal tax returns. The Department of Taxation decision, which was announced on November 8, 2013, confers separate, parallel fiscal statuses for […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) January 24, 2014 – Allison A. Hickey, the Under Secretary for Benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), has testified that benefits processing has improved at the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). On December 11, 2013, Hickey, spelled out the progress she claims the VBA has made. She led those claims with the assertion that the VBA had reduced its backlog of claims by 36 percent since March. However, Hickey’s upbeat pronouncements did not impress some members of the less-than-credulous Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. The VA has accumulated a backlog of 400,000 benefits claims, and […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) December 6, 2013 – Delays at VA hospitals have resulted in late-stage diagnosis and sometimes death. According to the findings of an investigation that were made public on November 20, The Department of Veterans’ Affairs was aware of the long waits and delays in care that resulted in the deaths of at least six veterans at one VA hospital in South Carolina — and did little or nothing to prevent them. The probe also suggests that the number of deaths linked to delays at the hospital may be as many as 20, and that delayed […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) November 27, 2013 – Though the recent government shutdown concerned veterans’ rights advocates, the VA stated that it had plans to cover vet benefits at least until late October. The government shutdown threatened to disrupt the flow of disability and education benefits, but the Veterans Affairs Department had other ideas. The Veterans Benefits Administration had the 19,000 processors slated to continue to handle claims of disability and education even during the shutdown. VA spokeswoman Victoria Dillion announced that the VA was excepting the VBA claims processors from any furloughs in order to keep claims processing […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) November 5, 2013 – There is a new awareness campaign launched by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to inform veterans about the changes the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will bring to them and their families. According to information on the new website, www.va.gov/aca, vets who are receiving their health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs will not have a change in their out-of-pocket costs or in their level of benefits when they are covered via the Act. Veterans interested in VA health care can use a “Health Benefits Explorer” tool to see what […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) September 18, 2013 – In an address to disabled veterans, President Obama announced that the backlog of disability claims was shrinking. At the Disabled American Veterans annual meeting earlier this year, Obama stated that the backlog of disability benefits claims had shrunk by as much as 20 percent in the past five months. But, he conceded, a new wave of claims was coming into the Veterans Administration. Some of those claims are from service members who served in Vietnam and are looking for care for ailments they believe stemmed from their decades-past exposure to Agent […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) August 19, 2013 – According to former VA Secretary Anthony J. Principi, the VA backlog of disability claims is due to the most recent policy decisions and laws that have burdened the system. Principi argued that current eligibility requirements are far more liberal than, as President Lincoln once charged, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.” He said that the 50,000 veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan who have filed for disability claims are not the reason the system is clogged, but that the system […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) August 13, 2013 – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a new online application for disability compensation claims. The agency says the online form allows claims to be processed more quickly because the procedure is electronic from start to finish. The VA has already begun implementing a computerized process for handling the paper claims it receives. Officials say electronic claims processing is a key part of the agency’s plan to eliminate its infamous claims backlog by the end of 2015. “Anything that speeds these disability benefits to our deserving veterans is welcome news,” […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) July 26, 2013 – Veterans’ health advocates have expressed concern that the Affordable Care Act may cause coverage subsidy issues for vets. The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs recently held a meeting to clarify veteran health coverage. There has been some confusion among members regarding whether vets would qualify for new health insurance subsidies while also enrolled in health coverage via the Veterans Administration (VA). But according to a Treasury Department official, vets will have more options going forward, not fewer. “Under the Affordable Care Act, vets who are already receiving their health care through […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) July 9, 2013 – Though mental health support can literally save the lives of returning veterans, many must wait years for the help they need. A new study has determined that vets with mental health conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression typically must wait an average of two years after returning from deployment before their mental health issues are addressed by Veterans Affairs (VA). “When the vets do begin to receive mental health treatment, the study also found that care is often fragmented and not as effective as is needed,” commented veterans disability […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) June 19, 2013 – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it will expedite decisions on claims more than one year old. In a news release, the VA said that effective immediately, the agency’s claims raters would begin making provisional decisions on the oldest backlogged benefits claims. After a provisional rating has been given to a claim, the veteran will have one year to submit additional evidence before a final decision is issued. “Too many veterans endure very long waits to receive desperately-needed disability benefits,” commented veteran’s attorney Andrew Hook. “Hopefully this initiative will […]


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