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Fort Worth special needs trust attorneyHave you ever worked closely with a loved one to help them apply for government assistance programs? If you have, you undoubtedly noticed that a large number of such programs have qualifying criteria that include limits on personal assets and income. Such requirements were generally put in place to ensure that the programs in question served those with the greatest need, but these limits have had unintended consequences for many families.

A good example of this is when a person who receives benefits through Medicaid, Social Security, and other income-limited programs is named as a beneficiary in another person’s will. It may come as a surprise to learn that a one-time transfer of assets—as is usually the case with an inheritance—could have a negative effect on the beneficiary’s continued eligibility for the government benefits on which they might have come to rely.

A Quick Look at Government Aid Programs

Government-funded aid programs are nearly everywhere today, and many have been serving citizens for decades. Some of them even trace all the way to the “New Deal” from the 1930s—the government-led effort to aid in recovery from the Great Depression. If you pay any attention to politics, you know that these types of programs are often debated, as lawmakers have trouble agreeing about their funding and future. It is almost impossible to deny, however, that government benefits are highly useful for people who truly need medical care and financial assistance.

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Fort Worth estate planning lawyerA last will and testament is often the basis for a comprehensive estate plan. You probably realize that your will can include a number of provisions to distribute your assets to those you have chosen as your heirs, and you can make arrangements regarding how your minor children will be cared for in your will as well. However, one of the most important parts of your will is the selection of a person or entity to serve as your executor. Under Texas law, your estate’s executor is in charge of managing your estate and making sure that your wishes regarding your assets and property are followed.

Once you have chosen an executor, however, your work in this regard is not necessarily done, especially as more time passes after the establishment of your will. There are a few situations in which you might consider someone else to serve as your executor - here are just a few. 

Major Life Changes

The Greek thinker Heraclitus is credited with the ancient maxim about the only constant thing in life being change. This reality proves itself every day as we get older. Your current situation might be dramatically different from when you first created your will and named someone to serve as your executor. Significant life changes, such as a divorce, the death of a child or spouse, or moving to a new state, could make a complete revamp of your estate plan necessary, including your choice of executor. The individual that you originally appointed to that role might no longer be in your life, or he or she might live too far away to manage your estate effectively.

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Fort Worth estate planning lawyerEveryone can benefit from having a comprehensive estate plan in place. In addition to giving a person and their family the peace of mind that their final wishes will be fulfilled, estate planning offers the opportunity for someone to examine their financial needs and assets in order to plan for the future. An estate plan usually includes a last will and testament and can also include a living trust, power of attorney, health care proxy, living will, instructions concerning life insurance, a business succession plan, and more.

At our firm, we have helped hundreds of clients create estate plans with varying degrees of complexity. We have also received many questions from individuals wondering how to approach the topic of estate planning with their aging parents. It is not always easy to initiate such discussions, but doing so is important for the security of your family.

Intestate Succession

If you have parents who are getting older but do not have an estate plan, you may be concerned as to how their end-of-life decisions will be made and how their assets will be distributed after their death. When an individual dies without having executed a valid will, the contents of his or her estate will be distributed to eligible heirs through "intestate succession." The specifics of intestate succession vary slightly by state, and such laws can be quite complicated in certain situations. Put another way, if a person does not make their own decisions about their property, the state will do it for them. Of course, most people would not choose to surrender those decisions to the state, but by not having an estate plan, they are doing just that.

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fort worth estate planning lawyerIf you have begun thinking about creating an estate plan, there is a good chance you have seen at least a few ads for self-serve estate planning or will creation services. When you first see the advertisements, it is easy to believe that such services will save you money, time, and stress. The ads might even outright claim that you do not need an attorney to develop your estate plan.

The bad news is that online document generators and DIY estate planning services lead many people into serious mistakes. These mistakes can cost a great deal in lost money, time, and frustration not only for the creators of the estate plan but also for the loved ones they leave behind.

Why You Need a Lawyer

There is no law in Texas that says you must work with an attorney to create an estate plan. However, DIY estate planning services try to “help” as many people as possible by being a “one-size-fits-most” approach. A DIY site might offer basic estate planning documents such as wills, powers of attorney, and advance medical directives. Unfortunately, the basics are often insufficient to properly address your needs. When you work with a qualified lawyer, your attorney will help you explore all of your options—including lesser-known and more complicated instruments—so that you can make the best possible decisions for yourself and your loved ones.

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fort-worth-business-formation-attorney.jpgIn 1990, the U.S. Congress passed a historic bill into law that would forever change business: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This law effectively enforces the civil rights and needs of people with disabilities. Before this law was passed, horror stories existed of inaccessible mobility for those bound to wheelchairs. Unfortunately, some people were forced to get out of their wheelchairs and crawl up stairs to schoolhouses and courtrooms. Buses also used to be inaccessible because there were no lifts available. Furthermore, grocery shopping was nearly impossible without someone tagging along to assist, as shelves were stocked to the ceiling. 

Since the passing of the ADA, life has become a bit easier for disabled customers and employees, and business owners are often happy to comply with ADA guidelines. However, sometimes new businesses may not realize the extent of the Americans with Disabilities Act policies and have trouble conforming.

Basics of ADA Laws

A few of basic guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act include:

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Fort Worth, TX 76104

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