Archive for Helpful Info

Hurricane Michael Insurance Claim Tips

hurricane michael insurance claims

We all watched in horror as Hurricane Michael made landfall at Panama City and Mexico Beach. The devastation was overwhelming and the recovery process will be lengthy. We deal with insurance claims on a daily basis. So we wanted to use our expertise to provide some basic tips for those who have experienced losses from Hurricane Michael.

  1. Document the Damage

Put that smartphone to good use and take some photographs of the damage. Go a step further and take some video. Do a walkthrough of your property illustrating the extent of the damage. Do this before you start making repairs or clean up.

  1. Prevent Further Damage

People are often confused as to whether they should leave everything alone until the insurance company arrives or whether they should start making repairs to prevent further problems. Under the law, and likely your insurance contract, you have a duty to mitigate (minimize) your damages. And since you’re going to document the damage like we told you in Tip 1, there’s no need to wait on the insurance company. Document your damage and then start preventing further damage. For example, if the roof needs repairs, make the repairs. Or at a minimum, put a tarp over the roof to prevent further damage. If additional damages occur because you failed to take reasonable steps to prevent such damage, you may not be able to recover those damages from your insurance company.

  1. Keep Your Receipts

As you’re making repairs, get a folder together where you keep copies of all your receipts. Go a step further and take a picture of your receipts and email them to yourself. This way you have copies of all out-of-pocket expenses you may have incurred to help repair your home and you may be able to get them reimbursed by the insurance company.

  1. File Your Claim Fast

Insurance companies are ready to go quickly when disasters hit. The faster you tell them of your damage, the faster they can process your claim. Plus, there’s going to be a lot of claims from disasters like Michael. Get to the front of the line instead of the back.

These are just a few tips to help out those in need. If you want to help those that have been affected consider donating to one of the many great charity organizations helping those in need.

Will The New Tax Law Affect Your Divorce? – Part 2

          The recent tax law changes have been a constant in the news lately. While we may not know exactly how those changes will affect us, one change stands out that could have an impact on divorces filed after these changes take place.

             One new tax law wipes out the previous alimony deduction that has been in the tax code since 1942. The new law states, in effect, that spouses who pay alimony will not be able to take a deduction for those payments, while spouses receiving alimony will not have to claim the monies received as income. This could lead the spouse who would have to pay alimony to negotiate-or attempt to negotiate for a much lower payment since it will no longer be tax deductible. This could have a major effect on the spouse that receives alimony, as that spouse generally relies on those payments to maintain their standard of living. These negotiations could also have an effect on the length of the divorce process as well as the cost.

             These changes could also push couples that are on the brink of separating into a divorce to avoid having to be under the new tax law. Another aspect that could be affected by this new change are prenuptial agreements that would or already have a set amount of alimony laid out in the agreement.

             If you have divorce questions, or questions about how this new law could affect your current situation, contact Hodges Trial Lawyers.

Five End of the Year Tax Tips

Guest Article by Amanda Romine, Accountant at CDPA, P.C.

The end of the year is fast approaching. This is an important time to look at your finances and to focus on your upcoming taxes. Jeremiah asked me to share a few useful end-of-the-year tax tips. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Accelerate Deductions: If you take advantage of itemized deductions, you may want to accelerate next year’s deductions into the current year for which the tax rates are known. For example, you might make January’s mortgage payment in December in order to have an additional month of interest to deduct, or you might move forward with an elective medical procedure or give additional funds to charity.
  • Donations: When making charitable contributions keep the rules in mind. All deductions must have a receipt. Donations in excess of $250 must also have (1) an acknowledgement letter from the charity detailing the amount of the donation, (2) date of the donation, and (3) that no goods or services were received in return for the contribution.
  •  Tax-Free Transfers: If you are over 70 and 1/2 with an IRA, consider a direct transfer to a charity. These qualified charitable distributions are tax-free transfers that still meet the required minimum distribution. As a result, taxable income is lower.
  •  Worthless Stocks: You may have stock that was purchased years ago in companies that have since gone bankrupt. Go through your records and memory to determine if you have any “worthless” stock, so those losses can be deducted now.
  • ACA: For 2017 all family members must still have qualified health insurance or pay the shared responsibility payment. Many Americans have joined a Healthcare Sharing Ministry which exempts them from paying the penalty; however, there is no tax deduction for the costs associated with a Healthcare Sharing Ministry.

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Disability: Do I NEED a lawyer?

I’m thinking about applying for Social Security disability, do I need a lawyer or should I do it myself? Will a lawyer take all of my benefits? How much does a lawyer actually do in a disability case?

 

We hear these questions all the time. The short answer is, it depends. Some people prefer to have a lawyer with them from the beginning of their case because they are afraid they might mess something up on their own. This is a legitimate fear. We handle many cases from the filing of the initial application because the online application is lengthy and can be difficult to use to someone unfamiliar with it. This is the safest action and one we always recommend. If you are approved, we generally won’t even generate a fee and just ask that you remember that we helped you and spread the word to others.

 

But if you are comfortable with filing your own application, then often times you can wait until your initial application is denied before hiring a lawyer. After your claim is denied, you really need a lawyer to navigate the appeals process and hearing before an administrative law judge. A competent lawyer can review and order additional records, can ask treating doctors for written opinions on your abilities, prepare a pre-hearing brief for the judge, and attend the hearing with you. So at this stage, a lawyer is essential to helping you win your disability claim. You’ve already been denied once, you need a lawyer to help ensure that doesn’t happen again.