Hegwood Law - March 2020



HEGWOODLAW.COM • 281.218.0880

MARCH 2020


M arch 26 is “Make Up Your Own Holiday Day.” If I could just pull a new holiday out of thin air, it would be called Me Day, and on Me Day, people would take the time to do something nice just for themselves. Maybe that means playing hooky, or taking a nap, or finally getting that manicure you have been wanting. Me Day would be like a minivacation, where we all collectively agree we do not have to feel guilty for indulging ourselves. When my grandfather was caring for my grandmother, he did not take the time to properly care for himself, and it took a real toll on him. Fortunately, he was still able to outlive her, but he passed shortly after because of a stroke. Caregivers are notorious for not taking care of themselves, and he was no different. I just ran a caregiver workshop for my clients yesterday. After seeing what my grandfather went through, I am downright ferocious with caregiver clients about making sure they take the time to care for themselves. Even if they know intellectually they need to get sleep, rest, and ask for help when they need it, caregivers still feel guilty in their hearts when they take time for themselves. By focusing only on the needs of the people they are caring for, though, caregivers risk wearing themselves out so much that they

cannot provide any care at all.

I want Me Day for myself, of course — it takes a lot of energy to run a practice, and it is hard to make time in my schedule to pamper myself — but I also want a Me Day for all of the caregivers in the world. They need it more than anybody.

For some people, taking time for

themselves is easier than it is for others, but so many of us are raised to feel guilty about taking time for ourselves. We worry if we prioritize the things we need to feel recharged, people will think we are lazy. But taking time for yourself is not about being lazy; it is something you do for your health and wellness, and when you are healthy and well, you are able to help so many more people than you can if you are burnt out and exhausted.

it is out in the country, and they have yoga classes and healthful meals cooked fresh and served three times a day. It is on the water, and everything about it looks Zen, calm, and peaceful. I would spend my version of Me Day there, recharging. Most of us would benefit from a little reminder to take time to check in with ourselves and spend the time we need for self-care. So this year, even if I am not at the Lake Austin Spa Resort, I will at the very least be asking myself: How can I help somebody else have their Me Day?

For years now, I have had my eye on the Lake Austin Spa Resort. It is not cheap, but



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FOIA Lawsuits That Changed How Americans Participate in Democracy

The Freedom of Information Act, commonly referred to as FOIA, has been a crucial part of the democratic system for decades. It was designed to improve public access to governmental records, but unfortunately, it does not always work as intended. In most cases, requests are only answered if a lawsuit is filed. Nevertheless, FOIA has had a crucial role in many high-profile legal cases. Here are a couple of the most significant ones in American history. A Journalist’s 16 Years in Court California-based journalist Seth Rosenfeld has had some serious contention with the FBI. In 1985, he filed his first lawsuit against the FBI for ignoring his requests for information about the Berkeley protests of the 1960s. The case was eventually settled in 1996, and Rosenfeld was awarded $560,000 in fees. In their settlement agreement, the FBI agreed to be more thorough with FOIA requests. Rosenfeld filed a second lawsuit in 2007 accusing the FBI of withholding information during former President Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Five years later, he was awarded $479,459 in attorney fees. Rosenfeld is known for having some of the longest-pending FOIA requests and

has received over 300,000 pages of FBI documents since the 1980s. The SCOMM Scandal

In a landmark FOIA settlement concluded in 2013, the federal government paid $1.2 million to settle a suit brought by several civil rights groups over the Secure Communities (SCOMM) Immigration and Customs Enforcement program. The litigation exposed a plan to create a multi-agency database focused on collecting DNA, a person’s gait, and iris scans. When evidence was uncovered during the litigation, governors of New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts tried to opt their states out of the program, but the Department of Homeland Security determined SCOMM mandatory, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights. The case also changed how the government is required to identify, collect, and produce data for all FOIA requests. Thanks to FOIA and these important cases, the people’s right to government information (and honesty) will continue to progress in America’s democracy.


The SECURE Act went into effect Jan. 1, 2020, and it is the most significant revision to retirement legislation in at least a decade. If you plan to leave an inheritance to a nonspouse beneficiary, you may want to revisit your estate plan. In the past, kids and grandkids could inherit money in an IRA either directly or through a trust, and then stretch out their withdrawals — and concurrent tax payments — for decades. Under the SECURE Act, though, nonspouse beneficiaries will be required to withdraw the full inheritance and pay taxes on it within 10 years, meaning that many people will be paying taxes on their inheritance during their prime working years. If you do not adjust your plan to account for this change, this could result in a real loss of intergenerational family wealth. The SECURE Act did more than just get rid of stretch IRAs, though. Some of the SECURE Act’s most major changes impact the age at which people are required to start taking distributions from their retirement

accounts. That age has been raised from 70 1/2 to 72 years of age, meaning retirement accounts will have more time to grow. What is more, working people can continue to make contributions to their IRAs for the duration of their income-earning years. The legislation also makes it easier for employers to offer annuities in their retirement savings plans and includes a lot of provisions meant to expand access to retirement accounts. To learn more about Hegwood Law Group and how we can help you adjust your plan to reflect the SECURE Act, visit HegwoodLaw.com.


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3 Eco-Friendly Home Swaps to Make When You Declutter It takes a special kind of person to enjoy spring- cleaning. For most of us, the satisfaction of a clean house does not quite outweigh the hours of scrubbing, sorting, and slogging through heaps of unnecessary stuff. If you are struggling to find the motivation to start your spring-cleaning, try flipping the paradigm: Instead of spring-cleaning, think of what you are doing as spring-greening, and make some eco-friendly swaps along the way. Here are a few ideas to get you started. 1. Swap your plastic spray bottles for bulk or DIY cleaning products. According to a Statista report, in 2019, the household cleaners market was worth more than $31 billion, and it is continuously growing. You can save money on cleaning supplies by taking the green route. When your current stock runs out, try buying bulk cleaners or making your own. Both options will save plastic because you can reuse your bottles, and they can help you avoid the harmful chemicals found in most cleaners. Visit UnderATinRoof.com and read the blog

3. In a medium bowl, whisk flour with baking powder and salt. In separate bowl, mix together 3 tbsp melted butter with cocoa until smooth. 4. In a food processor, combine 1 1/2 sticks softened butter, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla, and process until smooth. Then, add dry ingredients and pulse until combined. Finally, add cream and process until smooth. Transfer 1 cup batter to the bowl with cocoa mixture and stir until smooth. 5. Spoon half the remaining plain batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Spread the chocolate batter in the pan on top, then cover with the remaining plain batter. Using a butter knife, cut 5 swirls in the batter. 6. Bake for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325 F, and bake for 25 minutes more. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 15–20 minutes longer or until toothpick comes out clean. 7. Let the pound cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold and cool completely on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. 3. Say goodbye to paper towels. Paper towels are a mainstay in American homes, but do we really need them when a good old-fashioned rag can do the job? According to the Ocean Conservancy, 13 billion pounds of paper towels are tossed in the U.S. each year! This spring, quit paper towels and keep a stash of dish rags under the sink to do your dirty work. When you’re cleaning out your closet, you can even cut up old T-shirts and add them to your rag stash! If you’re brave, try giving up tissues, too — an old-school hanky does the trick. If you have made all three of these swaps, do not stop there! To continue your green journey, visit any of the blogs mentioned above and start browsing.

post “Zero Waste Cleaning Supplies + Recipes” to get started. 2. Explore alternative laundry detergents. If you are used to using a plastic jug of liquid laundry detergent, it is time to step out of your comfort zone. This spring, try exploring greener alternatives like plant- based bulk laundry powder (Molly’s Suds is an excellent source). Or, if you are feeling really adventurous, you can even try adding all- natural cleaners like soap nuts or English ivy to your laundry loads. For more on the former, search “soap nuts” on 1MillionWomen.com, and read up on ivy detergent at Permacrafters. com/ Eng l i s h - I v y - L aund r y - De t e r gen t .



Ingredients • Vegetable oil cooking spray • 2 cups all-purpose flour • 2 tsp baking powder • 1/4 tsp salt • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, and 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar • 2 large eggs • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract • 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk • Powdered sugar, for dusting





1. Heat the oven to 350 F. 2. Spray an 8x4-inch loaf pan with

vegetable oil cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Spray paper.



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HEGWOOD LAWGROUP Trusts | Estates | Probate | Elder Law | Family


950 Gemini Street, Suite 6 | Houston, TX | 77058


1 Steal a Little Time for Yourself on ‘Me Day’ 2 Influential Freedom of Information Act Lawsuits What Does the SECURE Act Mean for Your Retirement? 3 3 Eco-Friendly Home Swaps to Make During Spring-Cleaning Chocolate Marble Pound Cake 4 What's Happening at Hegwood


Workshop: ‘Elder LawWorkshop’ When: March 19, 6:30 p.m. Where: Webster Civic Center Free Admission

Workshop: ‘Elder LawWorkshop’ When: March 31, 6:30 p.m. Where: Hegwood Law Group Offices Free Admission

Do you have a plan in place for incapacity? At Hegwood Law Group, planning for long-term care needs in the event of incapacity is just one of our areas of expertise. This workshop will provide answers to your most pressing concerns in all areas of elder law, free of charge.

Elder law is an area of specialty at Hegwood Law Group, and we aim to alleviate as much stress as possible when making decisions about old age. Our firm specializes in providing assistance with setting up guardianships, setting up conservatorships, Social Security, and many other areas of elder law. This workshop will provide education about elder law and include a question-and-answer session.

Workshop: ‘10 Gruesome Estate Planning Mistakes’ When: March 26, 6:00 p.m. Where: Orchard Park, Manvel, Texas Free Admission At Hegwood Law Group, we know the ins and outs of the law, and we love educating our community about some of the most dangerous pitfalls of estate planning. This workshop is free and open to the public.

Workshop: ‘10 Gruesome Estate Planning Mistakes’ When: April 2, 6:00 p.m. Where: Orchard Park, League City, Texas Free Admission

If you or someone you love is in need of updating or creating their estate plan, this workshop offers an excellent opportunity to meet with a specialist — free of charge. We will answer your questions and educate you about some of the top estate planning mistakes.



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