More Children in Need, Less Resources?

Although the Center for Disease Control issued their assessment in 2014 that 1 in 68 school-aged children are on the Autism spectrum, federal funding for the care of these Americans is in jeopardy. A person diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or diagnosed with any of the many other related conditions may qualify to receive disability-related Medicaid benefits.

Analysis from Avalere predicts that Medicaid, which provides supports and services to  disabled children and adults, could see a reduction funding of up to $215 billion should the Graham-Cassidy bill be passed.

Three Republican senators and all Democratic senators vowed to vote against the latest attempt to repeal and replace the ACA, stalling the vote. The effort to change healthcare laws is not over. Parents and advocates of children and adults with special needs must get educated and involved in the healthcare debate. The Affordable Care Act has many problems that need to be addressed, but if you or a loved one is the recipient of Medicaid benefits, speak out to block a disaster and offer a solution.

The Changing World of Retirement Planning Seminar

Who can predict that our professional lives will end when we want and how we want?

With proper planning, you can feel more at ease about the unknown.  Find out where to put your pre-retirement savings!

Click here to see more information about our upcoming Estate Planning seminar.

The Changing World of Retirement Planning

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Determine how your assets are distributed with the assistance of an estate planning attorney.


Estate Planning Seminar March 11th

Good morning! We are getting ready for our joint presentation with Blake Douglas.

Estate Planning – whether you are a college student or grandparent, there are legal documents to assist you and your loved ones in stressful times of need.

Thank you Barbara Pardue for the fabulous Facebook event design.

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See you at the office building 5600 NW Central Drive – large conference room on the 1st floor at 2 pm.


Estate Planning – Protecting the Future Interests of Those You Love

Planning for the future of your loved ones in the event of your death is generally a difficult topic for many. Unfortunately, those of us who have family members with disabilities cannot afford to ignore estate planning. Many hours of hard work by parents and caregivers go into the qualification process for government benefits for our disabled children and relatives. Twenty-page forms to fill out and hour-long calls with multiple agencies are just a couple of examples of what parents endure to obtain essential benefits for their children. Rules for eligibility for State Waiver programs, SSI and Medicaid are confusing.

What parents, family members, and close friends do not want to see happen is the disqualification of eligibility of benefits. To avoid possible disqualification of benefits, I have seen grandparents attempt to do the right thing and disinherit certain grandchildren, out of love and out of a misguided attempt to protect their loved ones with disabilities from losing benefits. The law provides a better way to protect your loved one’s eligibility for benefits through Special Needs Trusts (“SNT”).

Special Needs Trusts can offer protection of assets and income. Special Needs Trusts allow friends and families to enhance the quality of life of a special needs beneficiary.

“Income” for most public benefits agencies is defined as:

(a) actual cash distributions to the individual, and
(b) distributions that could be converted to food and shelter, and
(c) in-kind support and maintenance.

The more practical trust that is utilized is a 3rd party Special Needs Trust. Parents and grandparents who leave an inheritance to a child with a disability will

(a) create a 3rd Party Special Needs Trust,
(b) obtain a Taxpayer ID Number from the IRs, and
(c) draft a Last Will and Testament naming the trustee of the SNT as the beneficiary.

If you do not have a Will, Texas Intestate Succession law could distribute your estate directly to your child, thus creating another scenario where government benefits could terminate.

Another “funding” source for a Special Needs Trust – If you or someone you know is anticipating the eventual relocation to a nursing home, applicants should review eligibility laws of the Texas Medicaid Program. The state has a “look back” period of 5 years to review transactions that may have been made to spend down an estate to reach eligibility for Medicaid. Many transfers of income and assets can subject the Medicaid beneficiary or applicant to a transfer penalty. There are certain transfers of assets that are not subject to penalty such as contributions to a Special Needs Trusts for a person under the age of 65 with a permanent and total disability. Another transfer example is payment to an attorney for estate planning.

Contact The Filis Law Firm for more information on Estate Planning that will be most suitable for you and your family.

Guardianship of an Adult Disabled Child

Is your child nearing his or her 18th birthday? What does this mean for them and what does this mean for you?

The State of Texas recognizes your child as an adult when you child turns 18 years old.  He or she can enter into contracts and attend ARDs alone.  You as the parent will lose your status as the natural guardian of your child and lose the right to be noticed for your child’s school ARD meetings.  You may be excused from your child’s doctor’s exam room.

If your child’s capacity level is such that a Power of Attorney is not an acceptable option, look into Guardianship. Guardianship of the Person can offer you legal rights to protect your child.

Attached is the Harris County Clerk’s filing fee schedule for costs Fee Schedule for a list of court costs. Note there are ad litem and attorney fees to consider.

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) offers a handbook on Guardianship – Guardianship Brochure.

Feel free to contact me for more information on planning for your child’s future.

Financial Planning


Knowing that you must prepare for your child’s future is nothing new. Knowing how to properly plan for your child’s future when he or she is diagnosed with a disability is confusing and frustrating. The wait on Interest Lists for Medicaid Waiver Programs can be up to ten years.  Once you finally start to receive benefits, you have to have a plan in place to maintain the benefits.  That is where Special Needs Trusts and ABLE Act accounts (529A) can be fantastic resources for your estate planning.

Another planning consideration for parents of children with special needs is insurance.  Life Insurance to truly cover expenses for of lives of your loved ones.  Life Insurance should not just cover the “breadwinner” parent.  In the event the care-giver parent dies, the family must hire others to continue to provide appropriate care for the child or children with special needs.

Unfortunately the insurance discussion does not end with life insurance.  If the “breadwinner” parent becomes disabled, he or she may become underemployed or unemployed and disability insurance can help.

As a member of Heights Go Givers (HGG), I have had many opportunities to meet with professionals from the Heights and surrounding area on a weekly basis.  Over the past few months I have had the pleasure of learning about the character and professionalism of Michelle Gessner of  Substantively, Michelle has proven herself to be very knowledgeable, both in one-on-one discussions and as a speaker at conferences and meetings I have attended. If you are looking for a brilliant, compassionate,  and disciplined advisor, contact Michelle.