Blog

Common Reasons for Insurance Claim Denials

When you’re in an automobile accident, the last thing you want to deal with is a stubborn insurance company that refuses to help with your auto and medical costs. Sometimes claims can legally be denied due to valid reasons. In other cases, the insurer may not be fair in their denial of your claim. Before considering that your claim is being denied illegally, check through the list below to ensure you’re not making these common insurance claim mistakes.

Did You Report the Accident on Time?

It’s understandable for one to be in a state of shock after an accident. Your well-being and that of your passengers will probably be the first thing you’ll be thinking about. However, it is important that drivers who have been in a car accident report the event in a timely manner. It is also important that, should you require medical attention, you seek help in a timely manner as well. The insurance company will doubt the legitimacy of your claim and suspect that you are attempting to gain coverage for injuries you did not receive in the accident if you wait too long.

Do You Understand Your Policy?

Sometimes drivers run into trouble when they realize that certain injuries and repairs are not covered by their insurance. It may come as a nasty shock to be informed that your insurance doesn’t cover certain repairs or medical procedures. To avoid surprises, make sure you are up-to-date on your insurance policy of choice. If you don’t understand a certain part of your policy, reach out to an insurance agent and ask them to clear up your confusion. The more aware you are of what your policy covers, the less stressful it’ll be when submitting your claim.

Did You Violate State Law?

It is an almost universal requirement in the United States that drivers drive sober, with a valid license, and properly insured. If at the time of your accident you were violating state law, the insurance carrier does have a legal reason to deny your claim. Violations can range from driving while intoxicated to driving with a suspended license. Insurance companies can also deny your claim if you were driving without insurance or if the accident was avoidable.

If you’re running into trouble submitting your insurance claims or suspect your claims are being denied illegally, contact the attorneys at Lowthorp Richards. A trained legal professional will know the law and how to get an accident victim what they deserve from an insurance company.

Can I Make Sure My Assets Are Not Distributed Through the Probate Process?

Courtroom, Judge, male judge in black mirror backgroundThe probate process involves the court distributing a person’s assets upon death. It usually occurs in situations where a person does not have a will. However, just because a person has a will does not mean that their assets will definitely not be distributed through the probate process.

What to Do to Prevent Your Assets From Being Distributed Through the Probate Process

Here are a couple of tips to help you avoid having your assets distributed through the probate process:

  • Joint Ownership – Set up any real estate or other property you own so that you share ownership with the person, persons or entity that you want to be the beneficiary of the property or real estate after you die. Property or real estate that is jointly owned with a survivorship right will not be subject to the probate process.
  • Living Trust – There are both revocable and irrevocable living trusts. Revocable living trusts allow the creator of the trust to revoke it while he or she is still alive. Irrevocable trusts cannot be revoked once they are created. The way a living trust works is that you create the trust and you become the trustee of the trust, which means you fully control any assets, such as property, that you transfer to the trust while you are alive. After your death, a person who you chose to takeover as your successor trustee will distribute the property and other assets you transferred to the trust while you were alive to your chosen beneficiaries. This protects your assets from being distributed through probate.

Next month, we will examine how the transfer-on-death designation, creating a will and setting up a pay-on-death account can also enable you to avoid probate.

At Lowthorp Richards, our experienced probate attorneys have been successfully guiding people through the probate process, as well as other complex estate administration matters, for decades. We are dedicated to providing individuals and families in Ventura County, the Central Coast and throughout California with the highest caliber legal services possible. To learn more about estate administration or to set up a consultation, call Lowthorp Richards today.

When Is a No Contest Clause Ineffective in Probate Court?

estate planning

The California Court of Appeal just handed down an opinion very strictly limiting the application of a no contest clause contained within trust to later trust amendments.

Peggy was battling cancer for 5 years, during which time her friends, Tracy and David, became the exclusive suppliers of medical cannabis upon which Peggy depended for treatment.  Anticipating her demise, Peggy placed Tracy in custody of all of her estate planning documents.  Soon after, Peggy complained that Tracy read the documents and confronted her about the disposition of her estate.  Shortly after, Peggy executed a trust amendment created in secret, and without advice or assistance of her longtime estate planning attorney, leaving all of her money to Tracy – to the exclusion of Peggy’s brother and godchildren, natural objects of her bounty, and beneficiaries under the estate plan in existence when placed in Tracy’s custody.  After Peggy’s demise, Tracy produced the trust amendment, and the beneficiaries went straight to court. (more…)

Water Company Ordered to Pay Ojai Playhouse Damages

Courtroom, Judge, male judge in black mirror background

In 2014, the historic Ojai Playhouse movie theater suffered damage after a water main break caused a flood. Now, a judge has ordered the former water purveyor of the town to pay the establishment $2.7 million worth of damages.

Golden State Water Co. once managed the water system for Ojai. The company was ordered to pay brothers Khaled Al-Awar and Walid Al-Awar, the owners of the playhouse, almost $2 million for repairs made after the theater was severely damaged, which was ordered by Ventura County Superior Court Judge Vincent O’Neill on July 19, 2017.
(more…)

Personal Injuries During the Summertime

Summertime is definitely a fun time for everyone. But with the added fun comes dangerous situations. Swimming, hiking and bike riding are just a few of the activities that we love to participate in during the summer, but certainly, there are many more things that we enjoy doing outside in the summertime.

Unfortunately, just one incident is all it takes to turn our world upside down. And when we suffer personal injuries, it can be difficult to recover.
(more…)

Prince’s Estate Planning Issues

The legendary rivalry between superstars Prince and Michael Jackson apparently extends beyond the grave in terms of whose estate is more difficult to navigate.  While Michael Jackson had a valid will when he died, controversy surrounded the appointment of an executor, and there remains an ongoing battle between the Jackson family and government agencies regarding the actual value of the estate.  Meanwhile, Prince, notoriously shrewd in business and control of his art and image, didn’t even leave a will.  Having died unmarried with no children (despite the numerous claims of a variety of pretenders to his throne), his statutory heirs comprise of siblings and half-siblings, and up to half of his estate will be paid to state and federal tax agencies.  Of course, the federal government and state of Minnesota are claiming the Purple One’s holdings are worth much more than the heirs claim, meaning his tax bill will be greater as well.  Moreover, the famous vault of unreleased material might double the value of his estate.  Had Prince done some basic estate planning, he could have selected specific beneficiaries and avoid probate altogether.   (more…)

Using 1031 Exchange Property as a Vacation Home

Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code allows taxpayers to exchange property held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment (hereinafter referred to as “qualified use”) for like-kind property on a tax-deferred basis. Deferred taxes means more funds to put toward replacement property(ies). You may even be able to afford to buy a replacement property in a desirable vacation area—and may be tempted to convert the property to personal use. A pure vacation home or personal residence will not meet the qualified use requirements, however, the IRS does allow some limited personal use of 1031 exchange property.
(more…)

What is Probate in California?

Sitting down and having a discussion about what will happen to your assets and finances after you pass away is certainly not an easy thing to do, but it’s something that should be done. You should start your estate planning as early as your graduation from college, and especially once you’re married with children.

When you pass away, most likely your estate will pass through the probate process. This process is the official way your estate is settled through the supervision of probate in California. The estate is frozen until the court determines the Will is valid, all relatives have been notified and that all of the property in the estate is identified. The court will also ensure that creditors and taxes are paid. Once that is all done, an Order is issued by the court for the distribution of the remaining assets. If you die without a will, the court will determine who is appointed as the administrator of the estate and will determine who receives your assets based on a “family tree” of surviving relatives.
(more…)

What is Estate Planning?

Planning for distribution of an estate following death is commonly considered a legal process that is only necessary for wealthy individuals, but the truth is that everyone has a need for some form of estate planning. Every young person with children needs an established will and directive regarding disbursement of personal property and dependent children guardianship in the event of an untimely tragedy. Even possessions as simple as furniture or vehicles are considerations when evaluating what would happen in the event of death or incapacity. Incapacity is another issue that many do not consider either, which can be especially important for young single parents. Everyone needs some form of an estate plan, regardless of the total value of their personal holdings, because passing away intestate can produce results that no one may want. The answer is developing a comprehensive legal directive, usually done most effectively with the counsel of an experienced estate planning attorney such as Lowthorp Richards.
(more…)

Beware of These Pitfalls When Selling Property in a 1031 Exchange

Looking to trade in an old investment property for something new? Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code allows taxpayers to defer the recognition of gain on business or investment property exchanged for like-kind property. Although this seems simple on its face, below are several common pitfalls.

  • Failure to properly use a qualified intermediary (also referred to as an exchange facilitator)

The word “exchange” is applied quite literally in Section 1031. You must exchange the old property directly for the new property, without receipt of any sale proceeds. Because the odds of finding someone who is willing to swap properties is incredibly low, most people must use a qualified intermediary to comply with the “exchange” requirement of Section 1031. The funds from the sale of the relinquished property are paid directly to the qualified intermediary, who uses the funds to acquire the replacement property. The qualified intermediary also handles the exchange of title with the buyer of the relinquished property and the seller of the replacement property. You may need to come up with separate liquid funds or financing if the replacement property is more expensive than the net proceeds from the sale of the relinquished property. (more…)