Americans Disabilities Act (ADA) Requires Emergency Preparedness Programs to Be Accessible to Those with Disabilities

One of the many responsibilities of local government is to make sure that their citizens are safe and protected from harm. Recent events have served as a poignant reminder that this level of safety also includes helping people prepare for and respond to emergency situations. This is why local governments have emergency preparedness programs, and the court system has ruled that these programs must be accessible to those with disabilities, under the American Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

If you have a child or dependent with disabilities, it is essential that you understand how the ADA should be working to make sure your loved one has access to these emergency systems. Even though these management practices are in place under the court rulings, certain issues still have a high impact on individuals with disabilities. Here are a few ways that you can help and make sure that your local government is helping keep individuals with disabilities safe.


Unfortunately, many traditional emergency notification methods are not usable or accessible by people with disabilities. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing may not be able to respond to audible alerts, while those who are visually impaired, may not see flashing lights or other visible warning signs. A combination of notification method should be used to keep more of the population informed of potential emergencies.


Individuals with disabilities often face many challenges when evacuating in an emergency. Your community should have evacuation plans that enable people with mobility, vision, hearing or cognitive disabilities to be able to safely leave either on their own or with the assistance of others. Some communities have voluntary registries of persons with disabilities who may need individual evacuation assistance that can help the community make certain they are getting the extra attention they need. Accessible vehicles are also, of course, a ubiquitous tool in assisting with evacuations.


In some emergencies, an individual with disabilities may be required to leave their home and find refuge in a shelter. There are several steps that the community should be taking to ensure that individuals with disabilities can safely access this type of accommodation. Including:

  • Ensuring community shelters have access points for persons with disabilities
  • Working with group homes to make sure people with disabilities and their families know which shelters can accommodate those with disabilities in an emergency
  • Adopting procedures to make sure individuals with disabilities are not separated from their service animals
  • Train shelter staff on providing accessible communication tactics to those with hearing and vision problems

Returning Home After an Emergency

Following an emergency, when an individual with disabilities can leave their home, they may face certain setbacks, or find that their home was damaged and therefore no longer accessible because of their disability. Communities should have temporary accessible housing, such as accessible hotel rooms or temporary portable trailers available for those with disabilities if they are not able to immediately return home after a disaster.

If you have questions about the ADA, your local governments emergency practices or what you can do to help your loved one with disabilities regarding these issues, legal advice may help. Call the experts at Hegwood Law Group a call at (218) 218-0880.

Dividing Assets When Divorcing

While no one ever sets out to plan to get divorced, divorces are increasingly common in the United States today. When divorce happens, one of the most asked questions that people have undoubtedly has to do with their assets. For many separating couples, dividing material assets is one of the most challenging parts of the divorce process. While it may be difficult to work together with your former partner during this time, the more you and your future-ex spouse can agree on, the easier the division of assets will be.

Here are a few pointers on how to expedite this process and make it as easy as possible.

The More Organized You Are, the Better

A list is your best tool when it comes to getting yourself organized for asset division. It is simplest if you and your spouse can make a list together of joint items you own that will need to be divided. This is your starting point. There is no wrong item to put on this list.

Don’t Expect Everything to Be Equal

Most divorces turn out the be fair, but not necessarily equal when it comes to asset division. Typically, most couples struggle with homes, vehicles, retirement benefits, household items, and valuables. However, it is important to remember that all assets must be divided in a way that is satisfactory to both parties before the divorce can be finalized.

Try to Keep Things Civil

The more cordial and amicable the two parties can be, the better. Not playing nice will only drag the process out longer and disputes can not only be time-consuming, but they can lead to formal disclosures which can slow the divorce down even more.

Consider Dividing Assets into Trusts for Dependents

If you have dependents, talk to your attorney about dividing your assets into trusts for your children. It can help save you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse money and make sure that your assets are not divided among you but instead given to the heirs or dependents in your life, outside of other divorce proceedings. It is a great way to keep these valuable assets protected.

Be Prepared to Dispute the House and Cars

For most couples, the biggest issues with asset division are splitting the house and the cars. If you have children, judges will typically grant that the parent with primary physical custody stays in the home. However, some couples will choose to sell the home and split the proceeds. Vehicles are another common area of dispute.

Many individuals involved in divorces are surprised to find that the spouse who holds the sole title, doesn’t always necessarily get the vehicle that they own. Even a vehicle owned by one spouse can be considered marital property. A great tip to remember with vehicle distribution is to know the value of the vehicle in its current condition.

Take Your Time with Family Businesses and Retirement Benefits

Two of the most difficult assets to split are retirement benefits and family businesses. Both of these assets are very complex, they take time and they can be a source of contention. Retirement benefits don’t always just go to the individual who received these benefits through their work—they may be considered marital property.

Family-owned businesses must be divided based on the value of the business as is, along with present and future profits. Typically, the easiest agreement involves one spouse buying out the other spouse, once these values have been determined.

Always Consult with Your Attorney

The best thing that any divorcing party can do during this difficult time is to make sure they always consult their attorney for advice. The right legal expert can be a major asset when dividing assets. If you have questions about dividing assets or trusts please feel free to give the experts at Hegwood Law Group a call at (218) 218-0880.

Trusts Can Protect Your Heirs from Themselves

Making plans to give your heirs a financial inheritance can be an overwhelming process for any individual. While most people want to make sure their heirs are well taken care of, there are always concerns with giving a family member, child or grandchild a sizeable amount of money. This is especially true for anyone who has reservations about their heirs’ ability to manage money or for those with past debt issues. Along with the other concerns like tax implications, legal considerations and IRS stipulations that need to be kept in mind when protecting your heirs and giving them a significant amount of money.

How Can a Trust Help?

Trusts are a legal way to help protect heirs when they receive a sizable amount of money so that they can make smart financial decisions for themselves now and far into their future.

Your Trust Options

Depending on your retirement plan and other existing accounts, different types of trusts may help your heirs receive money in a more managed way– even if you are no longer there to help control it. Here are a few examples of trusts that are options to you;

  • IRA Trust: Designed to prevent an heir from receiving money outright from their benefactor’s IRA, should the account owner die. Without a trust in place, an heir can treat an inherited IRA as a type of account they can draw from as they want to, as long as they take a required minimum amount of distributions under the rule of the IRS. IRA Trusts also give your heir asset protection that they don’t have in all states.
  • Revocable Trusts: Allows you to retain control of all the assets in the trusts and you are free to revoke or change the terms of the trust at any time, which can be helpful if your heir’s behavior or actions change at any given moment.
  • Asset Protection Trusts
  • Beneficiary Trusts

With your options in mind, the best course of action is always to seek professional legal counsel when creating a trust that works explicitly for your situations and your heirs. Estate planning can be stressful and at times emotional process, but when it comes to trusts, an experienced attorney can help make sure you have a system in place that keeps the best interest of your heirs in mind, even if they don’t realize it at the time.

Trusts allow you to control how and when the money is spent

The individual setting up the trust can make sure that any trust money will be used positively to help the beneficiary make smart spending choices. Benefactors who are young, or who may have a proclivity for poor spending can be protected in trusts with specific rules and stipulations that can help ensure the money is given to these individuals in a controlled way, instead of allowing the heir to withdraw and use the money as they want, on a whim.

Estate planning can be complicated. Taking the time to make a trust for your heirs is a smart way to ensure they are getting financial support in controlled and responsible manner. If you have questions about the benefits of trusts or estate planning in general, please feel free to give the experts at Hegwood Law Group a call at (218) 218-0880.



Important Steps to Complete a Medicaid Application

For years, Medicaid has been helping countless people get the care that they deserve. This state-administered program was designed specifically for disabled and low-income U.S. citizens as well as legal aliens to help get the hospital care and doctor services that they need. One of the main ways that Medicaid helps today’s in-need seniors is by helping them with the costs of nursing home care. Long-term care for the elderly and disabled can be extremely expensive, and most people aren’t sure of how to complete the Medicaid application to see if they qualify for this type of financial aid.

However, the process can be more complicated than just merely qualifying or not. This is where the professionals at Hegwood Law Firm come in. We can walk you through every step of the process and represent you and your interests so that you can make the right decision for your situation.


Step 1: Determine if Medicaid is Right For You

Many seniors consider Medicaid when they discover they are unable to cover nursing home care on their own. Before you move forward with your Medicaid application, it is essential to determine if this is the right decision for you and your unique situation.

First, we will walk you through what Medicaid does to assist eligible individuals. We must also address specific asset preservation requirements. Depending on your unique financial situation, your home or other assets may be at risk if you enroll in the Medicaid program. We are here to help you understand how the process works and to help you protect your property during this process.


Step 2: Gather Your Supporting Documents

In addition to filling out an application, you also need to provide a few different supporting documents.

  • Proof of age (birth certificate or driver’s license).
  • Proof of citizenship or resident alien status(limited benefits only).
  • Proof of income (pension award letters, pay stubs, Social Security, etc.).
  • Proof of assets (including most recent statements).
  • Proof of disability, if applicable.

One of the main reasons that Medicaid applications get denied is because applicants do not provide enough supporting documents or the right supporting documents. The actual application is particular about what documents are required, making it easy to determine what will work and what will not. We can help make sure that you have everything in order for your application.


Step 3: Submit Your Application.

You can submit your application via fax, on paper, online or in-person at your state’s Medicaid office. When your application is complete, a caseworker will review your application and determine if you qualify for Medicaid benefits to cover your nursing home care.

With Medicaid coverage, you must go to a long-term nursing home care facility that is Medicaid certified. If you are looking at assisted living communities, Medicaid will not pay for room and board or rent in these communities. However, there are still other programs available that are open to Medicaid beneficiaries which can help with the costs.

Typically, Medicaid applications are responded to within 45 days. If your application is denied, you can appeal. The Medicaid office outlines how to start the appeal process in your denial letter. If the denial was due to a lack of supporting information, they will likely outline what documents you need to re-open your Medicaid application.

If you have any questions regarding the Medicaid application process, visit the professionals at Hegwood Law Firm. We can help answer any of your questions about Medicaid and. Call us today at (281) 667-0164 for more information.