SPECIAL NEEDS PLANNING 101 | SPECIAL NEEDS LAWYERS IN HOUSTON

Special needs lawyers in Houston recognize that when you have a family member with a disability, there seems to be no end to the additional considerations that need to be made in daily life. It is not unusual to get so caught up in the day-to-day concerns that parents and caregivers have little time to even think about estate planning. However, special needs planning is a vital part of caring for those who need help caring for themselves.

There is a lot of information to understand when it comes to special needs planning in Texas, but today is just about taking one small step forward by learning the basics of a special needs trust.

The Special Needs Trust

It is not enjoyable to think about how your loved one will continue on without you, but it is incredibly important. Putting off planning is a bit of a dangerous proposition should the unexpected happen. Instead, getting to know how your assets can be used to continue to care for your loved one is incredibly important.

The special needs trust is one of the best tools you can use. By putting funds into a trust, you may even be able to ensure that your loved one’s care continues without affecting his or her eligibility for government aid in the future. Simply leaving your assets in a will does not afford this same kind of protection and can cause some pretty big disruptions and upheaval.

The most pressing aspects that a special needs lawyer in Houston will discuss with you in creating the document are:

· Naming a Guardian – This is the person who will be responsible for the physical well-being of your loved one.

· Naming a Trustee – This person will manage the assets of the trust for your loved one’s financial support.

· Providing Instruction – As the primary caregiver, you have more insight into your loved one’s needs than anyone. The trust will allow you to lay out those needs, as well as your wishes for him or her.

While it is possible to name the same person as the guardian and the trustee, it may not be the best option, so be sure to discuss this with a special needs planning lawyer in Houston. He or she will also help you develop the instructions for the special needs trust and will likely have insight into areas you may have overlooked, including the individual’s personal, emotional, housing, medical, and educational needs.

Special needs planning lawyers in Houston should have specialized knowledge in this area, so be sure to discuss your attorney’s qualifications and experience when choosing the right one. If you have additional questions or would like to schedule a complimentary consultation with our attorneys in Houston, contact our office at (281) 218-0880.

BUSINESS LAWYERS IN HOUSTON OFFER A LEG UP IN PURSUIT OF THE AMERICAN DREAM

Part of the American Dream is to create wealth for yourself and your family, and business lawyers in Houston have seen again and again that one of the best ways to do this is by founding your own small business. While creating wealth is certainly the goal for many small businesses, the owners’ concern should extend to properly protecting that wealth for the next generation.

Doing Things Right

Making your business a success depends upon doing things the right way. There are tons of laws and regulations that extend to conducting business in Houston. From licenses to inspections, your industry will affect just what types of regulations you need to adhere to. In order to make sure you are in compliance, you will likely benefit from working with aHouston business lawyer.

There is an incredible range of legal obligations that may relate to your business, and while you can do some research on your own, it is always best to back it up with solid legal advice. For example, you may need to provide contracts to your customers. While you can possibly draft these on your own, it makes financial sense to have them reviewed by an attorney who is able to ensure they extend all the right protections to you.

Business owners may also benefit from working with a business lawyer in determining the right type of business structure. In some cases, a simple sole proprietorship or partnership may be the right choice, but there are many, many times when some form of corporation is preferable due to the protections it affords. An S-corporation, C-corporation, LLC, or LLP is often a better choice, because it can help keep business and personal assets separate and protect one in situations where the other is vulnerable.

Growing Your Business

As your small business grows, a business lawyer in Houston is instrumental in smoothing the transition to a larger company. Perhaps you want to offer shares in your corporation or create bylaws for your organization. There are very specific legal requirements that go into developing these aspects of your business, and working with a business lawyer in Houston is the most responsible way to move forward.

Should your business outgrow you, or vice versa, you will also want to consult with a Houston business lawyer about how to sell it or create a succession plan. This protects partners and shareholders, and can even have an impact on your personal life and finances. Legal direction is necessary for ensuring all parties are treated fairly and understand the implications that come along in the form of taxes and other responsibilities.

Business lawyers in Houston are familiar with the laws that govern all aspects of running a small business within the state, and utilizing their expertise is a huge step toward laying a foundation for success in realizing the American Dream.

HOUSTON ELDER LAWYER ANSWERS “DO YOU HAVE RECOURSE WHEN A SIBLING IS USING MOM AND DAD?”

Estate planning and elder lawyers in Houston hear it all the time: “My sister is taking advantage of my elderly parents!” “My brother takes and takes, and my parents just give him more!” “My parents only see what one sibling does for them and have cut the rest of us off!” These are just a few variations on a theme that comes up all the time in estate planning lawyers’ offices across Texas.

What can you do when you feel like a sibling is taking advantage of your elderly parents? Unfortunately, the answer is not an easy one. Usually, you will have to go to court. Going through court proceedings is not going to improve relations any between you and the sibling, so it is probably only the best course of action when you are really concerned about your parents’ best interest. That said, there are also times when you may want to protect your part of an estate before it has been spent by or reallocated to an unscrupulous sibling. In those situations, though, the family relationship is probably already strained to the point that court proceeding will likely worsen things.

In order to bring these problems to the court’s attention, there are a few approaches that can be taken. For example, you may feel that you need to file for a conservatorship for your parents. If the court agrees, they will take your parents out of control of their own decisions. This can be limited to personal and medical decisions and/or financial decisions, depending on the parents’ needs. When the conservatorship is granted, it may also be necessary to request that the courts suspend any acting agents and trustees to stop the abuse of power.

You and your Houston estate planning lawyer or other attorney may determine that a trust petition is a better course of action. In these situations, you petition the court under trusts codes. You will also ask for an accounting and for the sibling to removed from his or her role. Oftentimes, you may find that you need to go for both the conservatorship and the trust petition.

Deepening a family rift is not the only reason to think twice about taking legal action, though. Both of these choices are time consuming and expensive, and there is no guarantee that things will work out the way you want them to. At the end of the day, your siblings are still your siblings and your parents are still your parents.

If you are unsure of whether or not this is the right direction for protecting your parents from a preying sibling, you may very well want to discuss your options with an estate planning or elder lawyer in Houston. They will be able to advise you on the repercussions of your choices and to identify the best route to meet your goals.

Kimberly Hegwood is an estate planning and elder lawyer in Houston, Texas. The attorneys at Hegwood & Associates represent individuals and families throughout the Greater Houston, TX area, including Friendswood, Webster, League City, Galveston, Pearland, Angleton, Sugar Land, Katy, Missouri City, Alvin, Dickinson, Pasadena, Deer Park, Texas City, La Marque, Seabrook, Kemah, San Leon, La Prote and Santa Fe. Our estate and elder law attorneys also represent clients in the communities of Harris County, Galveston County and Bazoria County. To schedule a complimentary consultation for yourself or a loved one, please call (281) 218-0880.

SEVEN FINANCIAL MISTAKES HOUSTON ESTATE PLANNING LAWYERS SEE

Estate planning lawyers are in the business of helping their clients create the best financial strategy possible, not just for their heirs, but for themselves, as well. Setting yourself up for retirement or to simply live the lifestyle you want takes some effort, which is why so many people make the choice to work with a Houston estate planning lawyer who knows the ins and outs of putting together an effective route for success.

There is a ton of information out there on what to do and what not to do, but a recent survey from Consumer Reports has offered a really good look into the most common financial mistakes that are made, potentially keeping people from creating their nest egg, protecting their assets, and so on.

Take a look at this list and make sure that you are not falling into the same trap that so many others have. If you need some guidance and direction, talk to a reputable Houston estate planning attorney to turn things around before it is too late.

The 7 Most Common Financial Mistakes

1. Emergency fund – Building an emergency fund can seem overwhelming, but it is an important part of protecting what you have. Three to six months’ worth of living expenses set aside will make all the difference if you suddenly lose your job or are otherwise unable to earn your regular salary. The emergency fund will keep you from living off of credit and starting that downward spiral.

2. Credit Reports – Credit reports wield a lot of power, from what home you can buy to what job you can get. Unfortunately, they often include errors, and it is up to you as a consumer to identify and fix the errors. You will not know if someone else’s mistake is harming you unless you take the time to review your report.

3. Reviewing the will – If you have already made your will, then good for you! (If not, please work with an estate planning lawyer in Houston to get this important task off your to-do list.) Unfortunately, even those who are responsible enough to get their affairs in order this way often overlook the importance of reviewing the will. An annual review allows you to make revisions based on life changes, including updating your beneficiaries.

4. Communicating with family – Once you have put together a plan with your Houston estate planning lawyer, it is imperative to make sure your family knows how to access it when the time comes. Whether you have stashed it in a safe deposit box or kept it with a lawyer or trusted individual, you will want your family to be able to find it to carry out your wishes.

5. 401(k) mishaps – Those who do not remember to review their 401(k) plans can miss out on a lot of opportunities. You want to make sure that you are making your contribution and that if your employer matches it, you are taking advantage of that. As with the will, you will also want to occasionally update your beneficiaries.

6. Homeowner’s insurance – Homeowner’s insurance can seem like an unnecessary expense, but if something catastrophic happens, it is your safety net. Imagine trying to replace everything you have worked so hard for with no funds to do so!

7. Debt – Debt is a beast that scares people to the point of not even seeking the help of an estate planning attorney in Houston. Allowing it to get out of hand, however, can have a disastrous impact on your financial life.

Just because you have had trouble in any of these areas does not mean that it is too far-gone to be fixed. A Houston estate planning attorney can help you develop a strategy for getting back on track. For a free consultation at our Houston estate planning law firm, simply call our office at (281) 218-0880 and mention this article.