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Parents know their children better than anyone else. While this stands true for any parent-child relationship, it is especially applicable in families who have a child with special needs. Given the challenges that many children with disabilities face, parents may have valid concerns about what will happen to a child with special needs once they are gone. Creating a Houston special needs plan is an important step in the estate planning process that parents can take to provide themselves peace of mind, as well as provide their child with the support they need to live a long, fulfilling life.

One crucial element of a Houston special needs plan is the letter of intent. A letter of intent is simply a letter, drafted by parents, that includes vital information about their child to future caregivers. Unfortunately, letters of intent are often overlooked by parents who intend on having another family member take over the care giving role once they are gone. However, even if relatives are close with a child, they may not know all of the necessary information that a parent would hope to pass on. Further, in the event a familial caregiver passes away or becomes incapacitated themselves, vital information about the child would be lost. Thus, even if a family member is planning on assuming the caregiver’s role, a letter of intent is still important.

Letter of Intent Checklist Items:

It can often be tricky enough to raise children; however, for those raising children and taking care of their own aging parents, the workload is doubled. The “sandwich generation” is a term that refers to those who are simultaneously caring for their own children as well as their elderly parents. While the stress may seem insurmountable for those juggling both of these tasks, there are ways to plan ahead and manage these challenges through the use of an effective Houston estate plan.

Compile Emergency Information about Aging Parents

Even before it seems necessary, it is important for people to have emergency information about one’s parents readily available. Having the following information easily accessible can save people from frantic moments after an unforeseen medical emergency has occurred: copies of insurance and prescription cards, the contact information of primary care physicians, basic medical history, and a current list of medications and dosage. Additionally, it is critical to have an elderly parent’s financial information on hand, such as contact information for banks and a list of financial accounts, in case of incapacitation or other emergencies. Check out our wonderful Family Document Checklist Tool.

Ensuring how a person’s assets and property will be handled after death is a critical first step when drafting a Houston estate plan. Often, a comprehensive estate plan involves the creation of one or more trusts. Thus, the second step of estate planning, determining who to name as a trustee, is often just as vital.

Serving as a trustee is time-consuming and complex. Although individuals often select a family member or close friend to serve as the trustee, picking a professional trustee can often eliminate a lot of the common issues that trustees face when executing an estate plan. Because a trustee will be responsible for ensuring an individual’s assets are distributed in a fair and legal manner, there are factors to consider when choosing a person to serve as the trustee of the estate:

Ability to Make Difficult Decisions

As people age, it becomes even more important to plan ahead for unexpected illnesses and disabilities. While creating an estate plan may seem like enough, a life care plan can help to ease the stress that comes with taking care of an elderly loved one. This is critical because it defines and organizes all aspects of a senior’s care. By establishing a Houston life care plan, a family can be prepared for any future care needs that may arise and feel confident in their decision.

What is a Life Care Plan?

A life care plan is a holistic look at your specific planning options, choices, and decisions. Besides including an estate plan, the life care plan will address the legal, financial, housing, and long-term care issues caused by the loved one’s chronic illness, disability, or even just their aging. Unlike traditional estate planning which focuses on preserving an elderly loved one’s hard-earned money for future generations, life care planning focuses on maximizing their quality of life and independence. Because there are a lot of unexpected situations that arise when a loved one continues to age, developing a life care plan allows families to be prepared for any situation that might arise. Overall, the goal of life care planning is to promote and maintain the health, safety, and well-being of the elder and their family.

As a person gets older, the legal issues they encounter differ from those that other people face. To address these needs, Elder Law is a relatively new practice area that focuses on the issues affecting the aging population, helping to prepare them, and their loved ones, for any future problems that might arise. As Elder Law deals with some of society’s most vulnerable people, attorneys who work in this practice area take into account the difficulties that accompany the aging process. The practice of Houston Elder Law encompasses many different areas of law. Below are some issues normally included within the practice of Elder Law.

Securing Senior Housing

Helping a senior transition to a new housing arrangement can often be difficult. Elder Law attorneys are often consulted to assess an elderly person’s situation and determine whether a nursing home or life care community is necessary. If a move to a nursing home is required, Elder Law attorneys will help explore all housing options, investigate nursing home quality and inform seniors of their patient rights.

When a loved one passes away, it is often a very tragic time for the family. However, it can be even more upsetting when the person dies without a will, and there is a family dispute over the contents of the estate. While having a thorough Houston estate plan can minimize the risk of disputes, there is still the possibility that issues will arise. Below are some common estate problems and solutions.

Conflicts with the Estate Executor

A family dispute with an estate’s executor or administrator is a regular estate planning issue. When an executor is appointed to manage the estate after a person passes away, there can be a conflict if family members disagree with the executor’s choices. These disputes include if the family believes the executor was poorly chosen or if the executor is engaged in the mismanagement of the estate,  including possible fraud. In these cases, it may be necessary to have the executor removed and replaced. Because it may be difficult to find an executor that family members are satisfied with, it is often useful to find a neutral outsider who does not stand to inherit any of the estate property.

When putting together a thorough Houston estate plan, one important consideration is how care expenses will be paid later in life. This includes long-term care planning, which can be one of the most significant expenses for older Americans. For those with limited assets, Medicaid will typically pay for nursing home expenses.

Many people anticipating the need for long-term care have used several methods for gifting assets to others in order to qualify for this benefit. The goal of Medicaid planning is to qualify for Medicaid benefits that cover long-term care, while minimizing the penalty that would result from the transfer. Recent changes to Medicaid laws have rendered several of these methods that were formerly used to achieve these objectives obsolete. Below are a couple of strategies that will no longer be effective, moving forward.

The “Half a Loaf” Strategy

“Estate planning design and implementation is not only complex but can be highly emotional. Therefore, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the estate planning process, before approaching a professional.”

The decision to start an estate plan is critical for all families, but it can also be a challenge. In many cases, the greatest impediment families face initially is discussing death, especially the deaths of family members. Forbes’ recent article entitled “Estate Planning 101: Tackling Your Estate Plan” suggests several life events that will trigger the need to create an estate plan for your family or business.

The article also reminds us that it’s important to think about what might happen to you or someone in your family, in the event of a substantial life change. Here are some life events that can necessitate the need for an estate plan and a visit with your attorney:

There are few challenges as rewarding as running a successful business. Business owners pour years of hard work into pursuing passions that are about more than just making money. So it makes sense that many business owners prefer to have a say in what happens to their business after they leave it. That is why it is important for all Houston business owners to have a plan for succession in place in case something happens that prevents them from being able to run their business.

Like prudent estate planning, creating a business succession plan requires some thought. The options are numerous, and what is right for one person or business will not necessarily be right for another. Here are some things to consider when it comes to crafting a business succession plan:

Type of Business Entity

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