Hegwood Law - September 2019



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D id you know that Sept. 6 marks National Read A Book Day? In celebration of this holiday, my team and I wanted to talk about two books I recently released: “You’re Not Alone! Living With Alzheimer’s Disease” and “You’re Not Alone! Living as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver.” You can probably glean the purpose of these books just from their titles, but I assure you, what is inside is worth a read. I decided to write these short publications approximately seven months ago when I realized that, with elder law and asset protection, what our clients are planning for more than anything else is incapacity. With the large number of Alzheimer’s patients in the U.S., we unfortunately know what that diagnosis means to a patient and their family members. “I decided to write these short publications approximately seven months ago when I realized that, with elder law and asset protection, what our clients are planning for more than anything else is incapacity.” While I feel all the chapters in both books contain valuable information, if you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, the book on living with this disease stresses above all else how crucial it is to come in and see us.

With so many decisions to make and documents to complete, we need to schedule a meeting early to ensure everything is in order. In this book, I also discuss the problems that can arise from poorly drafted powers of attorney, especially if you’re hoping to protect your assets while in long- term care.

we have found that in many cases, this lack of personal focus causes the caregiver to pass away before the person they are helping. It is a serious issue and one not many people know enough about to acknowledge. You know you cannot pour from an empty cup, and I believe the educational information in this book will help you come to peace with that notion. In writing these books, what I hope, above all else, is for people going through these struggles to know they are not alone. While an Alzheimer’s diagnosis feels catastrophic, many steps can be taken to make both the legal process and the caregiving a little easier. I want to pass a wealth of information on to you through these pages. If you think you might benefit from reading either of these, do not hesitate to reach out to us via phone or email. We will send you a free copy of either book as soon as possible!

Once we are able to get those documents drafted, it is time to open the second book, “You’re Not Alone! Living as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver.” Writing this book weighed heavily on me because I have seen firsthand what happens when caregivers do not dedicate any time to take care of themselves. When my grandma was diagnosed with dementia, my grandpa took on the role as sole caregiver, and he would not let anybody else help him. He grew up in a different time and felt the responsibility to care for her should be his and no one else’s, no matter how many times we offered. Unfortunately, it was not until he had a stroke that he allowed us to lend a hand. Stories like my grandparents’ are all too common. As some of the most loyal and selfless people on the planet, caregivers often forget how necessary it is to take time to rest, recuperate, and take care of themselves. They will put their own needs aside, like forgoing dinner or visiting the doctor, and in the end, they are doing more harm than good. In fact,

-Kim Hegwood



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WHAT HAPPENED IN REED SPRINGS? How a Small Town Went Bankrupt Over a Pothole

In 2002, the quaint town of Reed Springs, Missouri, declared bankruptcy. The hard decision came after the town was forced to pay $100,000 to Sally Stewart, a woman who sued Reed Springs after she tripped over a pothole during a shopping trip. News of a greedy woman ruining a small village to make a quick buck sparked outrage across the country. But Stewart wasn’t the real villain of this story. A little digging into this case reveals a much deeper conspiracy. Stewart had been visiting Reed Springs in 1998 when she tripped on a pothole hidden beneath some overgrown grass on the sidewalk. But this was no small stumble. Stewart tore two ligaments in her ankle and had to undergo surgery. To help pay for the medical bills, Stewart, who’d never sued anyone before, initially filed a personal injury lawsuit against the owners of the store in front of the pothole. However, the Missouri Court of Appeals determined the city of Reed Springs was liable for Stewart’s injuries. The court ordered Reed Springs to pay Stewart $100,000, over half the city’s annual budget. Despite the high price tag, in normal circumstances, this verdict wouldn’t have forced Reed Springs to declare bankruptcy because the town’s insurance would have covered

the bill. Unfortunately, at the time of Stewart’s accident, the mayor of Reed Springs was a corrupt man named Joe Dan Dwyer. Dwyer left office while being investigated for insurance fraud, child pornography, statutory rape, witness bribery,

and perjury, and he was later sentenced to seven years in federal prison. Among his many indiscretions, Dwyer also let the town’s insurance policy lapse. Reed Springs didn’t have insurance when Sally Stewart got hurt, which is why they had to write a check out of their own budget and ultimately declare bankruptcy. In this case, what started as a simple pothole accident quickly unveiled the lasting damage of an unscrupulous politician. Perhaps this case serves as reminder about why it’s important to vote in local elections.


Think Again!

The average life span formodernAmericans has increased dramatically, primarily due to great medical advances, and, while this is certainly a positive development, there are challenges associated with aging. The older you get, the more you have to worry about living on a fixed income while paying for things like medical care, prescription medication, and assistive devices. Plus, many seniors eventually need long-term care and will have to consider whether an assisted living facility, live- in caretaker, or nursing home is right for their situation. At Hegwood Law Group, we understand these decisions are daunting, but that’s why firms like us exist: to help you put your foot forward. While a great number of aging Americans believe Medicaid is the option best suited for their golden-years needs, it’s only designed to provide medical assistance to low-income individuals and those 65 or older, which may not apply to you or your spouse. Fortunately, for those who have income and assets that exceed the eligibility

threshold for Medicaid, one way to obtain such benefits is by taking advantage of irrevocable trusts.

Depending on the type of trust established, it can serve many purposes: to decrease tax liabilities, to protect accumulated funds from creditors, and to protect privacy, since trusts, unlike wills, are not public documents. A trust is legally defined as a relationship in which property is held by one party for the benefit of another. For all these reasons and more, a trust might be the best way for you to protect your assets should you need long-term care at a nursing home. At Hegwood Law Group, we believe every life has value, and the most vulnerable members of society deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Our elder law attorneys will work to protect your legal rights, so you will be comfortable in your golden years. Call us today to find out how we can help you plan for your future!


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The Strange History of ‘Happy Birthday’

Is your calendar full of birthday parties this month? You’re not alone. In the United States, more people are born in September than in any other month, meaning Americans will sing many choruses of “Happy Birthday” this month. This popular tune has a surprisingly controversial history. First composed by sisters Mildred and Patty Hill in 1893, the familiar melody originally belonged to a song called “Good Morning to All,” a song the sisters sang to their students every morning. Over time, the word “birthday” entered variations of the song and became a popular party tune. By the 1930s, “Happy Birthday” appeared all over in films and on the radio, prompting Mildred and Patty’s sister, Jessica, to secure the copyright to “Happy Birthday” due to its similarity to “Good Morning to All.” In 1988, Warner Music acquired the copyright, and the song’s ingrained popularity ensured a profit. They reportedly made $2 million a year on royalty charges. The Walt Disney Company paid $5,000 to use the song in a parade, and many documentaries were also impacted by the copyright. The civil rights documentary “Eyes on the Prize” never made it to DVD because the royalties charge on a scene of Martin Luther King celebrating his birthday was so high.

Due to its age and popularity, many people have insisted “Happy Birthday” is, or at least should be, in the public domain. When Warner Music tried to charge filmmaker Jennifer Nelson royalties to make a film about the song, she filed a lawsuit. Her attorneys uncovered a 1922 songbook featuring “Happy Birthday” without any copyright notice. They even suggested Warner Music knowingly hid the songbook because it proved “Happy Birthday” had been in the public domain for decades. In 2015, a U.S. judge ruled that “Happy Birthday” is not under copyright. So, the next time you record guests singing “Happy Birthday” at a birthday party, you don’t have to worry about paying royalties if you upload it online.




• 6 cups milk • 10 oz chopped dark chocolate • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

• A pinch or two of cayenne (optional) • Marshmallows and cinnamon sticks for garnish




1. In a pot combine the milk and chocolate.


2. Melt the chocolate over low/medium heat, stirring constantly.

3. Once melted, stir in the cinnamon and cayenne (if using).

4. Serve hot!



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


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


1 Two Books Everyone Should Read 2 A Surprising Reason for Bankruptcy

How to Make the Most of Your Golden Years

3 Who Can Sing ‘Happy Birthday’?

Aztec Hot Chocolate Recipe

4 Check Out Our Workshop!


COME ON DOWN TOOUR WORKSHOP! Here at Hegwood LawGroup, we are always looking to share pertinent estate planning information with as many people as we can, which is why we incorporate multiple platforms. Though using our website and sharing attorney Kim Hegwood’s recently released books, we deliver helpful material to our readers, and we like to dialogue with those who have lingering questions about the estate planning and elder law process. That is why we host monthly workshops at our office! We invite you to come in, listen to our presentation, and ask all the questions you have!

Check out this workshop coming up this month!

What: Elder Law Essentials Where: Our office at 6:30 p.m. When: Thursday, Sept. 12

to offer some introductory background information about what it is we do and how it can offer you and your family ample peace of mind. Because we are covering so much important information, it’s a workshop that can genuinely benefit anyone! Best of all, it is FREE!

After years of meeting with clients to discuss their own legal needs, we found two questions kept coming up: 1) What is elder law? and 2) Is it different than regular estate planning? We started this workshop

To get more information about our upcoming workshops, give our office a call at 281-218-0880!



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