“ONLY BRUSH THE ONES YOU WANT TO KEEP”

Estate Planning

I read a quote the other day that has caused me to engage in the unaccustomed torture of thought. “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” I think the sentiment is empowering and a little bit intimidating. On the one hand, I want relief from the oppressive pace of my life and the responsibility and feelings of guilt that accompany trying to “do it all”, and inevitably failing. On the other hand, if I have choices to make as to the use of my time, talents, and money, then it’s difficult to blame other people or circumstances for those choices. There are countless decisions to make; Planning, investing, saving, purchases, charitable giving, job options, relationships, vacations, recreation, maintenance and upkeep, to name a few. While a beautiful beach or a big pay raise captures my imagination, saving for retirement or getting my teeth cleaned does not. Estate planning is the planning and maintenance part of life. My favorite toothbrush inscription is; “Only brush the ones … [Read more...]

Lifetime alimony… in Texas.

Alimony

No, that’s not a misprint. And, while lifetime spousal support after divorce is certainly not the norm, Texas courts do have the power and authority to order alimony (we call it spousal maintenance) if specific conditions are met, including the obligation to make spousal maintenance payments for as long as the recipient continues to meet certain criteria. In general, a spouse seeking alimony must be “eligible” to receive the maintenance support. When parties divorce in Texas, not only does the court divide community property, but it also has the discretion and power to order recurring payments from one spouse to the other in the event that the spouse seeking maintenance will lack sufficient property (including separate property) to provide for his/her minimum reasonable needs. Interestingly, there is no definition of “minimum reasonable needs” in the Texas Family Code. Accordingly, the courts are faced with a fact-specific analysis in each case. In this regard, courts … [Read more...]

2017 SSA Changes

Social Security Justice

COLA or Cost of Living Adjustments are meant to keep benefits on track with the inflation rates. The 2017 COLA adjustment is .3%. The tax rate is remaining unchanged, with employees still being taxed at 7.65% and self-employed persons being taxed at 15.3%. The Maximum taxable earnings for 2017 has increased, so now the first $127,200 of your earnings are taxable for SSA purposes. The maximum dollar amount you can make while receiving retirement has also increased. Under full retirement age – the amount you can earn without being penalized is $16,920 per year or $1,410 per month. Above this amount, one dollar in benefits will be withheld for every $2 you earn. At full retirement age the amount has increased to $44,880/year or $3,740/month before you lose one dollar in benefits for every $3 you earn. There is no limit for earnings beginning the month after you reach full retirement age. The Maximum amount you can receive in SSI in 2017: Individual: … [Read more...]

DAMAGES FOR PERSONAL INJURY UNDER TEXAS LAW

Personal Injury

If you are injured because of the negligent acts or omissions of somebody else, perhaps a careless driver, a careless doctor or a careless dog owner you may be entitled to money damages to compensate you for your injuries. There are many ways in which Texas Law allows a jury to compensate personal injury victims. Some of those ways are obvious and some are not. In the article below, I will describe in summary fashion the ways that personal injury victims are generally compensated under our Texas civil jury system. Medical Bills The most obvious and probably most well known type of monetary damage that may be awarded by a jury are the medical expenses. In order to recover a medical expense, it must be shown that the expense was reasonable. That means that it falls within the range of expenses typically charged by other medical providers in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Additionally, it must also be shown that the expense was medically necessary. That part of the … [Read more...]

Supplemental Income Benefits : You received an Impairment rating 15% or Higher

Workers Compensation

When you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement and receive an impairment rating that is 15% or higher, you may be entitled to received Supplemental Income Benefits. SIBS are paid out monthly, which is calculated by using your Average Weekly Wage (AWW).You apply quarterly, so every 3 months you apply in order to receive monthly benefits for that Quarter. There are a few ways to qualify, so please call us to discuss your case, to see which would be the best route for your to apply. Please refer to DWC form 52 for your SIBS application. The insurance carrier and/or Division of WC should have mailed this to you ahead of time. If you are claiming a total inability to work, this one by far can be the most difficult since if any doctor states that you are able to perform some type of work, even if it's sedentary, you must look for work. Please refer to form DWC 52. It is very important that you fill in each space regarding your job search. In addition please keep these objectives … [Read more...]

Wrongful Death Beneficiaries Under Texas Law

Young bleeding man sitting depressed after car accident

There are few things more painful than the death of a loved one. And when that death is the result of another’s negligence, most presume that the law will provide a remedy. But this was not always the case in Texas, and to this day Texas law places limits upon whom may recover for a wrongful death. Historically, there was no cause of action in Texas for the death of another, as any such claims ended with the individual’s death. See Moreno v. Sterling Drug, Inc., 787 S.W.2d 348, 356 (Tex. 1990). This all changed upon Texas’ enactment of its first Wrongful Death Statute in 1860. Id. at 356, n. 7. But being a creature of statute, the scope of any recovery for wrongful death remains bound to the provisions of the statute. As currently drafted, the Texas Wrongful Death statute provides in part: A person is liable for damages arising from an injury that causes an individual’s death if the injury was caused by the person’s or his agent’s or servant’s wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, … [Read more...]

HAVE YOU GOT A GUY?

With apologies for the gender reference, you have probably heard the phrase. For plumbing, electrical work, auto repair, accounting, etc. The response is “I have a guy”. This means you are familiar with their work, they have done work for you or for a trusted friend, and they do a good job for a reasonable fee. We have all received what we thought was a good price for what turned out to be shoddy work. We have all had the feeling that we overpaid. “Having a guy” means that you received a good product and good service for a fair price. You don’t feel like you got ripped off. There is comfort in the trust you have in the relationship and that adds to your quality of life. There are thousands of options marketed to you everyday for estate planning or probate or any of the areas of law that we practice. It is stressful to look for legal help in such a noisy environment. It’s scary to realize how important your legal matter is and how vulnerable you are to slick ad campaigns or the … [Read more...]

MODIFYING CHILD CUSTODY AGREEMENTS

Family Law

Earlier this week I read about a court in New York that denied a mother the right to move with a child seventeen miles based on an agreement incident to divorce the former couple had signed. Yes, the court denied the mother's request to move with the child seventeen miles. One might think "Yeah but that is New York. That would never happen here." One would think that to their detriment. The couple had an agreement that included a geographic restriction. Almost all divorces with children or suits affecting the parent-child relationship include a geographic restriction. The courts generally don't worry about the adults so much, but the courts take the child's best interests VERY SERIOUSLY. In fact by statute, the courts are to act in the child's best interest. Often parents will say "but my moving is in the best interest of the child" for a variety of reasons (Job, new marriage, etc.) But the flip side of that is the very same action is making it more difficult for the child to see … [Read more...]

TRUMP AND DACA UPDATE

Bailey & Galyen Immigration Attorney

On January 20, 2017, President Trump took the oath of office as the 45th President of the United States. He quickly began the work of signing Executive Orders affecting immigration. As of January 26, 2017, a highly anticipated decision regarding the executive action on DREAMERS (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) has not been made yet. The BRIDGE Act (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy) was introduced to Congress in December, as a form of protection for those individuals who are eligible and those who have already received work authorization and temporary relief from Deportation to continue living in the U.S. National, state and local religious and civil rights organizations continue to seek relief for those individuals who currently have DACA, 87% of whom are employed and contributing to our economy. While the future of DACA is uncertain, it is best to seek an attorney to review what other options are currently available for you. Perhaps a family … [Read more...]

Stopped for DWI?

DWI

Did you know that law enforcement cannot force you to submit to field sobriety tests? Police officers are trained to put you through three standard field sobriety tests if they believe you may be driving while intoxicated. These tests are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, which is basically looking for a jerking motion in your eyes that law enforcement are trained to believe is a sign of intoxication. The Walk and Turn test, which has you walk nine steps back and forth down a line or imaginary while the officer looks for mistakes or “clues” such as not touching your heel to your toe on each step, stepping off the line, using arms for balance, etc. The third test, the One Leg Stand Test, which has you stand on one leg for thirty seconds. Again, the officer is looking for mistakes or “clues” such as using arms for balance, hopping, or putting your foot down. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test is, to say the least, controversial in its alleged accuracy in showing you may be … [Read more...]