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What is probate and why does it matter?

Written by Gardale Hatley on Friday, 30 May 2014. Posted in Palmore Hatley Blog, General

Probate doesn't have to be a scary process, with a proper will it can be simple.

Probate is, simply stated, the process by which assets from a deceased person's estate are disbursed.

Most probate proceedings are independent in nature and require minimal court invovlement. However, when the idea of probating someone's will comes up, it can be a bit frightening. But with the right documents and right help, the process can be simple and quick.

There are of course horror stories about people who go to simply probate a will and end up in years of administration. These are the EXTREME exceptions to the rule. They are the most grievous examples from among many different experiences.

When I'm in probate court, without fail, the most difficult cases are one's that either don't inovolve a will or worse, involve a poorly drafted will. In Texas, probate can be very simple if you leave a properly drafted will.

The following is a very simple outline of the probate process for Independent Administration in Texas. 

Starting the Probate Process...

Initiating the probate process is actually fairly easy. Whether or not the Decedent died with a Will, an application for probate will need to be filed in a Texas Probate Court.

Once the Application has been filed, Texas probate law requires that you must wait approximately 2 weeks before you can have a hearing on the Probate Application for the Court to determine the necessity to open the Administration of the Estate and/or to recognize the Decedent's Will as valid.

During the 2 week waiting period, the County Clerk posts a notice at the courthouse that an application has been filed for probate. This posting serves as notice to anyone who might want to contest the Will or administration that they have a certain number of days to do that. If they fail to file their contest within that period of time, the Court can move forward in opening the administration and/or recognizing the validity of the Will.

Once the waiting period has passed, a brief hearing will be conducted before the probate Judge.  At that time, the Judge will recognize that:

  1. the Decedent has died,
  2. that the Court has jurisdiction over the case (i.e. the ability to dispose of the matter)
  3. that the person applying to be the Executor is qualified to serve, and
  4. that either the Decedent died without a Will or that the Will he left was valid.

Once the court makes these determination and few others, the court will admit the will into probate and the executor will be issues "Letters Testamentary" that allow the executor to begin working on behalf of the deceadent's estate.

The Texas Estates Code requires that executors and administrators in any probate proceeding complete two requirements. While additional requirements may be imposed as a result of the specific type of probate you employ, every executor or administrator will be required to:

  1. Publish a Notice to the Creditors and 
  2. File an Inventory of the Estate Assets

The Notice to Creditors is a notice published in a newspaper in the County in which the probate proceeding is pending. The notice simply informs any potential creditors of the Deceased that the probate proceeding has been opened. It also tells them the identity of the Executor and the address of their attorney, and it notifies the creditors that they must file a claim against the estate if they desire to be repaid for their outstanding debt. 

The Inventory of the Estate Assets is a detailed listing of all of the assets that were owned by the Decedent as of the date of his or her death. This listing must be provided to the Court within 90 days after the Executor is appointed, and it informs the Court of those assets with which it should be concerned in the probate administration. 

Texas Supreme Court To Tackle Same Sex Divorce

Written by Gardale Hatley on Tuesday, 05 November 2013. Posted in Palmore Hatley Blog, General

Same-sex couples can't get married here, can they get divorced here.?

Texas Supreme Court To Tackle Same Sex Divorce

The Texas Constitution bans same-sex marriage, but what if you get married somewhere else and relocate to Texas. Can you then get divorced in Texas? That issue is about to go before the Texas Supreme Court.

The Court is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday on whether Texas can grant divorces to same-sex couples who married elsewhere. Both cases involve same-sex couples who married legally in Massachusetts.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is set to argue that state law won't allow Texas to recognize the divorces because that would validate the marriage.The hoping-to-be-divorced couples will argue that Texas' Constitutional ban, approved in 2005, is in direct conflict with the  U.S. Constitution. Of some importance is the recent US Supreme Court ("SCOTUS") decision that struck down President Clinton's Defense of Marriage Act. The Defense of Marriage Act ("DoMA") was a Federal ban on same-sex unions. This summer the SCOTUS ruled that the DoMA treats same-sex couples unequally. (I promise, we're almost out of acronyms.)

At the same time the SCOTUS has deferred to the states to handle the issue of same-sex marriage. The Texas cases are another attempt to force the Supreme Court's hand in deciding the issue.

The country as a whole has flipped on this issue. Back in 1996, around the time of the enactment of DoMA, 68% of Americans opposed same-sex unions. Today that number sits at 48%.

Don't hold your breath, the Texas court is not expected to rule for several months.

The Story of Kate

Written by Gardale Hatley on Tuesday, 08 October 2013. Posted in Palmore Hatley Blog, Immigration

Kate's Journey to America

The Story of Kate

We’ll call her Kate, but that’s not even close to her name, her name doesn’t really matter and she’d prefer it if we didn’t publish her name so she’ll be Kate. Kate grew up in a North African country that again we won’t name. Apparently there are people who monitor these things, people who could connect dots and might be able to hurt Kate’s family, well, more so than they already have. Kate sought asylum in the United States, crossing into the U.S. at a Rio Grand Valley border entry point.

She’d been on the road for three or four months, you seem to lose track of time when you’re on the run, leaving her North African home at night after escaping from a prison hospital, riding in a car, sitting in a dark room for a few days, taking a flight, staying with a stranger in an apartment in a country she thinks was named _____________ but then again it might have been ________________ she doesn’t know, then another car ride, then another flight, more stranger’s homes, another car ride. There were rules of course. She was told never to give her name, not even her fake one, she was told that the men who were helping her wouldn’t give them their real names, she’d only know them as John or some other common first name. Don’t speak, that was another rule, follow; blend in while in crowds. There were other rules, a lot of rules, all meant to keep Kate alive. So what then was she running from?

You see there are parts of the world that aren’t safe if you hold certain religious beliefs. Back in Kate’s home country, she was part of a church, she believed in a guy named Jesus and, at some point in her life, believing in a guy named Jesus was outlawed. Her church went underground. She did too. Still, she watched friends from school, people from her church, family members taken by soldiers. She never saw them again. Then came the night the soldiers went underground. They came to her church, took everyone away. No judge, no jury, no charges, just took her to prison. They locked her in an overcrowded cell and left her there. Every morning they would come in and take some of her cellmates away. Some came back beat up; others never came back at all. Everyday the guards would come in with machine guns and tell Kate that if she didn’t change her mind about Jesus they would kill her. Kate didn’t care, Kate was willing to die, actually preferred it over turning her back on Jesus even for a little while. So, thanks to overcrowded cells, not enough food, terrible sewage conditions Kate got sick and they took her to a hospital. Friends of hers paid off some people and paid others to get Kate out of the country. That’s what led to the car rides and all the rules.

I met Kate at a refuge facility in South Texas. Yes we have those in Texas, no I didn’t know about them until I went to one. When we talk about immigration, we don’t think about these people. People of every color and from every corner who can’t go back to their home country because if they do they’ll be put in prison or worse, seeking asylum, trying to make a new home in our great Country with its’ freedoms. That’s kind of what makes our Country so great. We are one of the last lights of freedom that exists in an increasingly dark world. There’s another component to all this. I don’t think Kate’s Jesus ever wanted people to live afraid. So we have a chance to be part of making them feel safe.

Kate called home a few times, trying to be careful. She found out the government didn’t like her leaving so they’d done some things to her family. Things that we are pretty sure are still going on. Kate knows that she probably won’t ever see her family again. She is a mix of heart break and blessing about the sacrifices they made for her. A few years later the pain is still real close to the surface. I can’t begin to understand it and she can’t begin to express it, but it’s there.

So our firm got a call to help Kate and I made several trips down to South Texas to prep for trial. We had a lot of help from some great organizations that are way ahead of the curve on these things, and with that help, Kate won. I was there when the Judge told her she could stay; it was a pretty cool moment. We drove back to our office and Kate got real quiet, I figured she was thinking of her family. I’ve probably been around more powerful moments, but I’m not sure when or where. Kate lives in a Texas city. Doesn’t matter where, but we talk from time to time about traffic, Tex-Mex food, this weird NFL football thing, and about her church, above ground and all.

Texas Community vs. Separate Property

on Monday, 07 October 2013. Posted in Palmore Hatley Blog, General

Sorting through the "stuff"

Texas Community vs. Separate Property

When we talk with clients in divorce and estate planning matters the idea of community and separate property inevitably comes up. Texas is a community property state, meaning that when a court seeks to divide up say a martial estate in a divorce, the court first determines what is separate and what is community property. The key is that separate property is never part of a divorce division. Separate property is the property of that spouse and is not on the table. Community property is squarely on the table for a “just and right” division of assets.

"Separate property" is property either

  • owned or acquired by a spouse before marriage, or
  • acquired by a spouse during marriage by either
  • gift or
  • inheritance.

The date you acquire property is the key, everything before the marriage is separate, everything after, with a very few exceptions is community. Separate property can “mutate” or change forms, for example a wife may have an amount of cash that is her separate property, she can then purchase an item with that cash and the item, even if purchased during marriage is her separate property.

As far as gifts go, we’re dealing with intent. A gift includes any Christmas or birthday gifts from one spouse to another during the marriage, regardless of the funds used to purchase that gift. So if community funds are used to purchase the gift, it doesn’t matter, it’s going to be separate property.

The law presumes that all property is community property unless proven otherwise. Therefore a court will require you to prove by clear and convincing evidence that each item is separate property.

Community property is everything else. Now what about interest or proceeds from separate property. In Texas, earnings from separate property are community property. So if a husband has a rental home and receives a monthly rent, that rent, upon marriage, is community property.

What about mixed property? This comes up quite a bit, especially when we’re dealing with large purchases, i.e. cars, homes, etc. For example, let’s say a home is purchased for $100,000 dollars using $25,000 down of a wife’s separate property. In that event the 75% of the value would be community while 25% would be separate.

Reimbursement will be its own blog post, but the basics of reimbursement are that one estate, whether a husband’s separate, wife’s separate, or the community estate needs to be reimbursed for some action or benefit given to another estate. For example say a husband owned a car before marriage but still owed money on the note, then, during marriage, community funds were used to pay off that note. The car is still the husband’s and the court cannot use it for a just division, however, the community estate can make a claim for reimbursement for the funds used to pay the note down during marriage.

All marital property can be traced to either community or one party’s separate estate. How property is characterized is crucial in determining a just and right division of property.

F-1 Student Visas

Written by Gardale Hatley on Thursday, 19 September 2013. Posted in Palmore Hatley Blog, Immigration

Let’s talk students and F-Visas. There are three types of visas – F, M, and J – that require institutions to keep computerized records of students, exchange students, visitors, and accompanying family member.

The F-Visa criteria are:

1.  An applicant has a foreign residence and no intention of abandoning it.

  1. Field of study and job market in the applicant’s home country cannot be the basis for denying the visa.
  2. School choice is not a basis for denial either.
  3. The key is the immediate intent of the student.

2.  The applicant must be a bona fide student, qualified to pursue a course of study.
3.  The entry must be temporary and SOLELY for the purpose of pursuing his course work.
4.  The applicant must study at the approved school.

  1. The F Visa has limitations on elementary and secondary school enrollment.
  2. The applicant must present the required documentation from the school he or she wishes to enroll in and pay a fee.

5.  The applicant must have sufficient financial support such that he or she will not have to engage in unauthorized employment.

  1. There are however authorized employment avenues, for example the student may work on campus during his or her first year.
  2. After the first year, students may engage in limited off campus employment that is related to their field of study.

6.  Must be proficient in English or take classes to become proficient.
7.  Finally the applicant must maintain a full course of study.

Those are the basic requirements. Many students, from Mexico or Canada, attend schools in the U.S. as commuter students using F-3 visas.

Students can generally arrive 30 days before classes begin. Students can transfer to a different school so long as they are a bona fide student, pursuing a full course of study, intending to pursue a full course of study, has the financial means to, begins classes within five months of transferring or within 5 months of completing the previous course of study.

A transfer, like an initial enrollment, requires the student to obtain a SEVIS I-20 from the school they hope to attend or transfer to.

Withdrawal from school means that the F-1 holder has 15 days to depart. Missing any deadlines can make the student subject to removal as well.

Our Visa series continues next week.

Business or Pleasure: B-1 and B-2 Visas

Written by Gardale Hatley on Tuesday, 17 September 2013. Posted in Palmore Hatley Blog, Immigration

The second installment of PH Law's Visa Series.

Business or Pleasure: B-1 and B-2 Visas

B-1 and B-2 Visas are temporary visitor visas, that like all nonimmigrant visas, manifest an intent to have a temporary stay in the U.S. However, as with other nonimmigrant visas, an applicant can have ”duel intent,” meaning the individual may have a short-term intent to leave but a long-term desire to stay permanently. Therefore even if someone has a desire to be a permanent resident, they can still gain admission via a nonimmigrant visa such as a B-1 or B-2.

The basic requirements of the B’s are:

  1. The person is an “Alien”
    Has a residence in a foreign country that is an actual dwelling place.
    1. Not a student, performer, skilled or unskilled labor, law enforcement, or media representative
    2. The B’s are not a catch-all however.
  2. They have no intention of abandoning that residence.They are visiting temporarily for business or for pleasure.The visit must have specified time duration and the person must have intent to depart at that time.
    1. The person may be asked to show employment contacts, family or social ties to the residence abroad.
    2. This helps show the intent to return home after the visit.
    3. The individual may be required to post a bond at the port of entry in order to visit.
  3. The person must have permission to enter a foreign country (return home) after the end of the stay.
  4. Must have adequate financial support to carry out the purpose of the visit.

B-1 Strictly Business

Typically these individuals will be engaging in some sort of business transaction beyond just making phone calls, instructing employees, etc. But, an individual may not use a B-1 in order to manage a U.S. business full-time. In other words, is the visit a transaction or a series of transactions or is the U.S. the profit center for the foreign business. The predominate place of business and accrual of profits must be in the foreign country.

Expenses, NOT Salary

The B-1 may also be used in lieu of other types of visas in some instances. The key: Is the individual entering and receiving compensation or are they only being reimbursed expenses for the trip? For example, Religious workers may apply for a B-1 so long as their trip does not involve any salary or payment other than expenses. Further, individuals on a voluntary service program for religious purposes may enter under a B-1.

Certain embassy and government employees may apply for a B-1 instead of a J-1 should they not qualify for a J-1. In addition persons seeking H-1 status but not receiving salary or any other payment other than expenses may enter under a B-1. Professional athletes who are not receiving a salary, but instead receive winnings from tournaments or races may enter under a B-1.

Individuals entering to attend a U.S. corporation’s board meeting(s) may also enter.

B-2 We’re Going to Disney Land!

This is a bit more simple, tourists, friends visiting friends and family, individuals coming for health or medical treatment, those coming to a convention, musicians or entertainers who are not being paid for the trip, dependents of U.S. Armed Forces, and people entering to marry a U.S. citizen but still intending to leave are some of the individuals who can enter under a B-2.

In addition, non-spouse partners, regardless of gender, who are entering with someone who has E, F, H, or L status, can enter under a B-2 under their own name. However, don’t mix business with pleasure, the reason for the visit must be to accompany the other individual, not to carry out personal business.

Are you entering for business or pleasure but you want to go home when you’re done. The B-1 and B-2 may work for you.

Why Do I Need an Immigration Attorney

Written by Gardale Hatley on Wednesday, 04 September 2013. Posted in Palmore Hatley Blog, Immigration

The first in our series on Immigration Law.

There are some jobs that are self-explanatory, a plumber comes to your house and fixes leaky pipes. A roofer comes and fixes a leaky roof. A mechanic can get your car running. Other jobs are a bit more complex in description. What does an immigration attorney do and why would I need one? The answer is easy, the description of what we do is; well, way more complex than anyone has time for. We’re starting a series on the PH Law Blog about immigration basics, breaking down what an immigration attorney can do for you starting with visa applications.

But first, a bit of an overview…

A visa is a legal document that allows an individual to enter and stay in a country for a certain amount of time. That being said, act of getting a visa to stay in the country for longer than 30 days can take an enormous amount of time and effort. A visa is the first step toward immigrating to the United States and becoming a citizen. Without a visa an immigrant can’t legally get a job, obtain a driver's license, or rent a place to live. With the complexities that are involved with US immigration it is essential that one have an expert on their side.

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork

We deal with paperwork everyday. The process of establishing US citizenship and legal immigration involves a mountain of paperwork and immigration is particularly picky when it comes to this paperwork, even down to the form in which the paperwork may be turned it. Certainly you can attempt to do this yourself, but a good immigration attorney can point out the pitfalls and problem areas that you may not be aware of. We also deal with citizenship/visa issues daily, so we can help you understand wait times, criteria, and legal jargon plus help you find and use supporting documents.

What if I’m already here?

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that many immigrants are in the country illegally or have not been successful in their legal attempts to become US citizens. This is where an immigration attorney can help. We can get you back on a pathway to citizenship, help you with removal proceedings, and even help you bring family into the U.S. via legitimate methods of entry. Mistakes that have been made in the past do not necessarily mean that a person's American dream is over, just that it needs some help in most instances. We can provide that.

Avoid the trick questions.

In the immigration process there are tests and interviews that are conducted in order to ascertain whether someone is a candidate to become a citizen or enter the country, or whether they are being honest. There are even tests of the American system of government, our political structure, our history. This can be a daunting task, but a good immigration attorney can help you along the way by offering and matching you with the services that you need.

A friendly, helpful, face

Lastly an immigration attorney is an advocate in an impersonal setting. A good immigration attorney doesn’t just shuffle papers and get a result, he or she communicates with you, and tries to understand your situation and tries provide compassionate, effective solutions in an often-confusing situation. They’re also a problem solver who looks for legal avenues to help people achieve their goals.

This is what an Immigration Attorney does everyday and we can do it for you.

Deferred Action, One Year Later

Written by Gardale Hatley on Wednesday, 28 August 2013. Posted in Palmore Hatley Blog, Immigration

Deferred Action is a year old, what impact has it had.

Last fall I sat in a classroom at the Baylor School of Law and took part in a free seminar on the recently implemented Deferred Action program. The seminar highlighted the problems that face our changing demographic populace. In the room were between 150-200 high school and college age kids trapped in limbo. Their parents had entered the country illegally and now they, as kids were living in the margins to some degree. They were incredibly articulate, intelligent kids who wanted and needed a legal avenue to make their American Dream work.

They looked like a cross section of almost any high school in America, because they were. This is the changing face of our country and the question is how are we addressing it. The problem is that our solutions are polarizing. We have to be honest with ourselves and understand that these kids aren’t going anywhere. The government isn’t going to haul them off and send them back to whichever country they came from. For many amnesty isn’t a desireable option. The room by the way was largely Hispanic, but there were also a number of students from Asia, Africa and eastern European countries. We met with them one on one to talk through the Deferred Action requirement and what they would need to get together to apply. We had a similar event in Huntsville a few months later.

Deferred Action allows individuals to remain in the U.S. and apply for a work permit. A grant of deferred action is temporary and does not provide a path to lawful permanent resident status or U.S. citizenship. However, a person granted deferred action is considered by the federal government to be lawfully present in the U.S. for as long as the grant of deferred action is in effect. In practice is hits a pause button on any removal proceedings, until something else is done to enact immigration reform.

The basic requirements are that an individual…

  • Born on or after June 16, 1981
  • Came to the United States before reaching 16th birthday
  • Have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 (the past 5 years), up to the present time
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making DACA application
  • Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012
  • Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, or obtained a general education certificate (GED)
  • Have NOT been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety
  • Be at least 15 years old to file an application

So what is the upshot of the program? Results were overwhelmingly positive according to a study by the Brookings Institute. Some highlights:

More than half a million young undocumented immigrants applied for deferred action between August 2012 and July 2013, according to the most recent figures from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The bulk of applications in the first six months were from high school- and college-age students, the Brookings Institution reports.

54 percent of applicants were under the age of 21, and 36 percent were between the ages of 15 and 18, notes the nonprofit think tank, which did an independent analysis of the program's applications from Aug. 15, 2012 through March 22, 2013.

Over the past year, 61 percent of immigrants granted deferred status obtained a driver's license, the same proportion landed a new job.

54 percent opened their first bank account, according to a survey by the Immigration Policy Center.

The program has also dangled an educational carrot for some. Deferred action, which requires students be enrolled in school, or have a high school or GED diploma, could serve as a "motivation to finish school and to even go back and get a GED," Roberto Gonzalez, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, told U.S. News last year.

As Congress wrestles with some form of “comprehensive” immigration reform, Deferred Action has provided a way for some to find a way out of limbo and into a more productive life.

The Adoption Tax Credit Update...

on Wednesday, 02 January 2013. Posted in Adoption, Palmore Hatley Blog

Adoption Tax Credit Extended

adopttion-cartoonAdoption Tax Credit Update…

The bill to avert the “fiscal cliff”, which was signed on January 2, made the adoption tax credit permanent, extending the credit as it was in the 2001 Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act.

The adoption credit is not refundable for 2012 and beyond, which means that only those individuals with tax liability will benefit.

The credit will remain flat for special needs adoptions, which means that people who adopt children who are determined to be special needs (or hard to place) by a state or county child welfare agency can claim the maximum credit regardless of their expenses.

We cannot yet confirm the maximum amount of the credit for 2013, but it will be at least $10,000 (but might be higher due to adjustments for inflation).

We’ll provide additional details as they become available.




The Adoption Tax Credit

Written by Gardale Hatley on Wednesday, 19 December 2012. Posted in Adoption, Palmore Hatley Blog

Two bills related to the lapsing credit for adoptive parents.

Im-just-a-billWhen I receive enough questions about a given topic I start thinking it’s time for a blog post. The adoption tax credit is one such topic. The adoption tax credit was introduced in 1997 and has been available in some form or fashion ever since. Every year, at least as I can remember, we’ve gotten down to December and renewal and there has been great consternation as to whether the credit would be extended. This year is no different.

 The adoption tax credit is available for eligible families who adopt through foster care, intercountry adoption, and private domestic adoption. Over the years, the rules of the credit have changed. Before 2010, the credit could be carried forward over multiple years, in 2010 the credit was made refundable, allowing families to receive the full benefit during a single tax year regardless of taxes due that year.

In 2012, the credit amount decreased to $12,650 and was no longer refundable, eliminating the availability of the credit to some lower to moderate income families without tax consequences.

The current adoption tax credit will end December 31, 2012. Should the credit lapse, the tax benefit will fall to $6,000 and be available only for those who adopted a child that is considered “special needs.”

But there is hope…

On April 17, Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) introduced the "Making Adoption Affordable Act" or HR 4373. The bill would set the adoption tax credit at $13,360 and make it refundable and permanent. The bill is continually gaining bipartisan co-sponsors.

On September 21, Senators Landrieu (D-LA), Blunt (R-MO), Hutchison (R-TX), and Cardin (D-MD) introduced S. 3616. This Senate bill will make the adoption tax credit inclusive, flat for special needs adoptions, refundable, and permanent.

So there is hope in these two pieces of legislation. A wise man once said that you don't want to see what goes into making sausage or laws. He's was right. However, as developments occur we will try to keep you up to date on them. If you are so inclined you can track the progress of both bills at and .

Who's Eligible for Deferred Action? You Might Be!

on Monday, 10 September 2012. Posted in Palmore Hatley Blog, Immigration

Deferred action, or as it is more commonly known, The Dream Act is a program allowing certain qualified youth to be given temporary permission to stay in the U.S. Deferred action will be valid for two years at which time it may be renewed.

Even if you meet the requirements outlined below, Homeland Security will still decide, on a case-by-case basis, whether to grant you deferred action. A grant of deferred action is temporary and does not provide a path to lawful permanent resident status or U.S. citizenship. Individuals who receive deferred action may apply for and may obtain employment authorization.

So who qualifies and who is eligible…to be eligible for deferred action, you must:

• Have come to the United States before your sixteenth birthday.
• Have continuously lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, and up to the present time.
  -A brief, casual, and innocent absence from the United States will not interrupt your continuous residence.
  -The absence cannot be a result of a removal or deportation proceeding.
Be present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for deferred action.
• Not have lawful immigration status on June 15, 2012.
  -This means you must have entered the U.S. without papers before June 15, 2012, or,
  -If you entered lawfully, your lawful immigration status must have expired as of June 15, 2012.
• Be at least 15 years old.
  -If you have never been in deportation proceedings or your proceedings were terminated.
  -If you are currently in deportation proceedings, have a voluntary departure order, or have a deportation order, and are not in immigration detention, you may request deferred action even if you are not yet 15 years old.
Be 30 years old or younger as of June 15, 2012
• Be in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or U.S. armed forces.
  -If you are enrolled in school on the date that you submit your deferred action application, that will be considered to “be in school.”
Have not been convicted of a felony offense.
  -A felony is a federal, state, or local criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
Have not been convicted of a significant misdemeanor offense or three or more misdemeanor offenses and not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
  -Homeland Security is still defining what these terms mean but has indicated that they include:
Gang membership
• Participation in criminal activities, or
• Participation in activities that threaten the U.S.
• Pass a background check.

An Affordable Estate Plan is Waiting for You!

Written by Gardale Hatley on Thursday, 26 January 2012. Posted in Palmore Hatley Blog, Civil Law

Need a will, trust or other estate planning document?  This is the time to do it.  I offer affordable estate planning solutions.  Essential estate planning documents for you and your loved ones that you cannot afford to be without.

Package Includes:

  • Will and Trust documents
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Medical Power of Attorney
  • Directive to Physians

All tailored to your specific needs.

Email me to get started.

Adopting the Unadoptable

Written by Gardale Hatley on Monday, 05 December 2011. Posted in Adoption, Palmore Hatley Blog

Adopting the historically unadoptable can change lives and reverse social trends.

The term “unadoptable” is used to describe foster children who are older, have special medical needs or are historically difficult to adopt based on race or ethnicity. These characteristics have proven to be obstacles to adoption.

It is critical now than ever that loving adoptive homes be found for these kids. Failure to quickly find adoptive homes for more children has long-term implications for society in general, and for state and local governments. Nationally
foster children who turn 18 in the foster system are more likely to become welfare recipients, prison inmates and homeless. Of young adults who left foster care two to four years before age 18, almost half failed to complete high school, about 38 percent had not held a job for more than one year and about 25 percent had been homeless for at least one night.

Texas has an acute issue with older, special needs children. As of 2009, 6,400 children – over one-quarter of all children in Texas’s Conservatorship– had been in foster care for more than three years. As of May 2010, roughly 500 children had been in Texas state custody for more than ten years. In addition Texas failed a 2002 federal audit of its foster care program, and performed worse on certain key measures in a second audit in 2008.
The timing is critically important.

So, how can we help? Texas is in need of two things, loving home willing to foster children even for a short time and loving homes willing to adopt the unadoptable. Here’s a little primer as to the how part of all this. View the contacts for each of the 11 Texas Department of Family and Protective Services regions . You will see a map of Texas with each of the regions outlined. To the right of the map is a list of each region’s contact person. Clicking on the person’s name will start an email to that person (emailing is recommended). That gets a ball rolling.

Adoption Procedure

on Thursday, 17 November 2011. Posted in Adoption, Palmore Hatley Blog

Ever wonder what adoption might look like, here is an adoption primer.

Here is a sample of what is required of prospective adoptive parents. Each situation is different but generally the child has to live with the prospective family for six months prior to adoption. Then comes the paperwork. Each spouse must join in the petition, the document that essentially asks the court to hear the adoption. Social studies are conducted on the prospective family. For non-familial adoptive parents a report concerning the child’s health, social, educational and genetic history is completed and the adoptive family has the right to see the report. The prospective family must have a criminal background check performed. If there is a managing conservator who is different than the adoptive parents, that conservator gives consent for the adoption. Once a petition for adoption is filed, the court hearing the petition gives the adoption a preferential setting. In other words, the adoption case can move up in line to be heard. A judge then hears the case with both prospective parents present, unless a waiver is granted so one can be absent. The adoption is consummated or granted and the record can then be sealed at the adoptive parent’s request.

Estate Planning Myth #1: You Can't Afford an Estate Plan

on Tuesday, 27 September 2011. Posted in Palmore Hatley Blog, Services

Let’s tackle one of the great estate planning myths before it festers and becomes fact. One of the most common myths about estate planning is you have to own a rocket car, wear a monocle, and have a second home in Aspen to afford one. Just like the Easter bunny, the Keebler Elves, and Jack-a-lopes this is a myth.

Here’s the reality: You can afford it and chances are you can’t afford not to have an estate plan. So what does it cost? A basic package that includes a Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Medical Directive, and a HIPAA authorization will cost you right at $400. Need a trust for your children or loved ones and you’re still under $500. Every estate plan is then reviewed for free anytime you need it. Additions or changes to the will are affordable and easy to execute.

We’ve talked about control and how your ability to control what happens to your children and possessions is priceless. Don McNay sums up what happens far to often for people that don’t have a solid estate plan. Forget for a second dollars and cents and think about the hidden personal cost of the battles over “stuff” that inevitably come.

You can afford an estate plan. Please feel free to contact me and let’s get started.

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