Tips From a Probate Attorney For Avoiding Conflict

Probate AttorneyA well-written will makes it easier for a probate attorney to sort through a person’s affairs, after they have passed, and often leads to avoiding uncomfortable situations. Unfortunately, at times, the dividing of assets can bring out the very worst in people. Add to this the grief of losing a loved one; along with some sentimentality attached to certain objects, and attorneys often find themselves in the middle of angry feuding families. Nobody wants that. A loved one’s passing should be a time of memories, laughter, crying and sharing as a family rather than feuding over material things. However, feuds do happen.

The best way to ensure a family war does not ensue over who gets the china, is to have a well-written and detailed will. A detailed will lays out the division of assets, leaving little room for legal maneuvering. Listed below are a few elements that should always be included in a will, to ensure that it will be executed smoothly:

  • Name an executor: An executor is tasked, specifically, with executing or carrying out the instructions in the will – to the letter. This person takes charge of the property and ensures that it is distributed as directed by the will and in accordance with the deceased. As a probate attorney, we also recommend having a secondary executor named, in the event that the initial choice is unable or unwilling to carry out the instructions.
  • Direct beneficiaries: Often, when making a will, people like specific items or property to go to specific people. It is important to specify to whom specific property goes. These kinds of specifications are called specific benefits and can include personal property, cash, and even real estate. There are no limits to specific benefits, other than they need a level of clarity when allocating them to a beneficiary.
  • Personal and business assets: Remember that personal assets and business assets are often viewed very differently. Business owners tend to have clear set ideas of what they want done with the business, ideas which need to be articulated in the will. As such making sure that there is a clear distinction between what assets are personal and what assets are business related, and then allocated accordingly is important. Laying out clear directions for what should be done with a business can alleviate confusion later.  There are no limitations on who can be a beneficiary to what kind of asset, as long as there is a clear set of instructions surrounding both sets of assets.
  • Debts and Expenses: Very few people pass without leaving some level of debt. At the very minimum, the cost of the funeral and probate attorney costs will be lingering. It is a good idea to write, into the will, where the money for these expenses should come from with specific bank accounts and other detailed information. This avoids having any one beneficiary from feeling like they have to bear the entire burden. Estate and inheritance tax should also be covered under debts and expenses.

As a probate attorney, we can help you to plan for what will happen when you pass in order to ensure that all of your assets are distributed according to your wishes.  If, however, you are currently involved in managing an estate and need assistance, we can help with that as well.

An Estate Attorney Can Ensure Your Wishes Are Followed

Criminal Defense AttorneyAs a local estate attorney, we help our clients to plan ahead for what will happen to their assets after they die.  This is important because, without a plan and a will or trust, the government will make the final decision on where your assets go.  You won’t have any say, and your heirs can spend years in probate court.

We recommend that you schedule an appointment to discuss your assets and your plans with an attorney.  It is a good idea to bring a list of your assets with you since it can be difficult to remember to talk about everything during the meeting.  This should include life insurance policies, bank accounts, investments in companies, stock and bonds, real estate, cars and more.  Anything that you own can be part of your estate, even the paintings on your walls and the furniture in the living room.

As an estate attorney, we can help to list out your assets and even get them appraised if you would like to know their cash value.  This can be helpful when trying to divide things among multiple children.  When completing your will, we can make it extremely detailed.  By listing out even the smallest things like your clothing, we can prevent your heirs from fighting.  The more ambiguity there is in how your assets are to be divided, the more likely there will be a division within your own family.  The emotional stress of it can make even close families start to fight.

After you have identified what all of your assets are, we can keep copies of statements and policies so that when you pass we can help your heirs to gain access to everything.  This will save them time and the stress of having to locate everything.  It is important for us to keep a record of the contact information and account numbers for your assets along with the names and contact information for all of your heirs.  This will ensure that everything is distributed without complication.

If you have specific wishes that you want to be followed, we can help with that as well.  For example, if you want to make sure that your grandkids all go to college, we can help to establish specific accounts so that the funds are not used for anything else.  Simultaneously if you have a family heirloom or vacation home that you don’t want to be sold, we can include a provision that it has to remain in the family.  Whatever your wishes or conditions are, we can look for ways to make sure that they are carried out long after you are gone.

Working with an estate attorney can give you peace of mind for what will happen to your assets after death and help you to sort out everything that you want to accomplish.  Sometimes just speaking with someone can help you to decide what you want to do and help to clarify some of the goals that you have.  To get started, give us a call.

Ideas From a Patent Attorney for Keeping Your Invention Safe

Patent AttorneyAs a patent attorney, we speak with clients who have great ideas, but are afraid to take them into the world for fear that they might be stolen. This, unfortunately, is a very real dilemma. For the inventor or creator of a product or idea, they often need to be able to sell the idea to another company or to investors so that they can enter the production phase. Many entrepreneurs and inventors hesitate because they are afraid that they could reveal too much of their idea and have it stolen or duplicated. Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself from such fears becoming a reality.

Even with a good attorney, getting a patent takes time and money. If you need to pitch your idea to a buyer or an investor today, in order to get the orders or capital you need to be successful, this can create an immediate challenge. There are, however, two methods of protecting yourself from either of these eventualities and giving yourself the breathing room you need to grow.

The first option is to file a provisional patent application. Typically you will need to meet certain criteria, the most important of which is that your invention has to be patentable. As a patent attorney, we can tell you whether or not your invention can be patented or submitted for a provisional patent. Additionally, within one year of filing for a provisional patent, you must also file a regular patent application.

Filing a provisional patent application has three distinct advantages:

  1.  It is easy to prepare
  2. There is very little cost associated with it
  3. It gives you the right to use “patent pending” which can deter knockoffs.

The second options, and if done right the more viable option, is to have the parties sign a non-disclosure document. A non-disclosure agreement, sometimes called a confidentiality agreement, is a legal document that prevents the signer from using your secrets without permission. There are a variety of different forms of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) can take, but all of them contain these three elements: –

  1. The definition of what is and what isn’t confidential: Every NDA provides a clear definition of what elements are considered secret information or trade secrets. They also specifically outline those elements that are not considered proprietary and relieve the signer of any obligation to protect information that is either not proprietary or can be found from a source other than the inventor.
  2. Obligations of the signer: The basic premise of an NDA is that the signer, or receiver of the information, must hold the information in confidence and agrees to never share it without the express approval of the inventor. Other provisions like agreeing to never induce someone to share this information, agreeing to never breach the agreement, and agreeing never to attempt to acquire information by improper means are relatively standard language for any non-disclosure agreement.
  3. Time: Agreements are almost always bound by time limitations, and NDA’s are no exception. Typically an NDA will be for five years unless otherwise negotiated by the parties. The rule of thumb is that within five years it is likely that the invention and its secrets will probably be available to others outside the room.

For more information on how to keep your invention safe, speak with a patent attorney.

An Oil and Gas Attorney Can Help to Protect Your Investment

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????As a Texas oil and gas attorney, we have witnessed a boom in the oil and gas industry first hand.  Over the past decade, new technology has made it possible to pull oil out of areas that were previously considered finished and places where oil was difficult to extract, are now producing high quantities.

This has created massive opportunities for investors looking to invest in a commodity with high demand. Investors from all over the country have been pouring money into oil companies in Texas and throughout the Bakken region.  Many of these investments have had a high payoff while others have left investors wondering what is going on.  Investing in a company outside of your area, can create these types of difficulties because you can’t simply drive over to the job site.

As an oil and gas attorney, we can help to make sure that your investment is protected.  This starts by reviewing the investment documents and prospectus ahead of time.  If you are evaluating a deal and considering investing, let us know, and we can review all of the documents for you.  We will make sure that your rights as an investor are protected, that you have the ability to get out of the investment in the future, and that there are specific provisions for communication and investor updates among others.

During your initial consultation, let us know what your goals are for the investment if you are looking to liquidate in the near future, give your shares to your children, etc.  This way we can make sure that these provisions are contained in the documents and if not, can make recommendations for changes.  After you have invested money, the company will be unlikely to negotiate with you, so it is important to do this first.

If you have already invested in the oil and gas industry and need help following up on your investment, let us know.  We can help you to determine where the project is at and make sure that your rights as an investor are protected by reviewing the documents that you signed.  We can also ask for financial statements and review them to make sure that you have been getting distributions like you are supposed to.  This becomes more important if you invested in a company or oil well that was thought to be dry but is now producing thanks to new technology.  If the company went back to the site and is now extracting oil, you should have the right to receive distributions from their profits, even if your investment took place years ago.

As an oil and gas attorney we find that most of these cases can be settled through negotiations without having to go to court.  We can litigate on your behalf if necessary, but most companies will respond to requests from a Texas attorney and comply by providing the information that we need.  Once we have reviewed everything, we will make a recommendation for how you should proceed and work towards protecting your investment and getting you the distributions that you deserve.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Determines Liability

Personal Injury AttorneyThere are several types of injury claims, and a personal injury attorney can evaluate the case in order to determine who could have liability and how to proceed with the case.  It is important to identify this early on so that everyone with liability can be included in the suit.  In any case, there is a chance that more than one party has liability for the accident and injuries.

In order to identify who has liability for your injuries, a lawyer needs to know all of the facts leading up to when you became hurt.  Here are some of the things to think about:

  • Where were you when you were injured?
  • What was involved in your injury?
  • Could anything have been done to prevent your injury?
  • Who was around at the time?
  • What happened immediately before and immediately afterwards?

The answer to these questions will help your lawyer to identify if more than one party could have liability. Here are some situations in where this may apply, many of which we see as a personal injury attorney.

  • Hurt at work.  If you were injured while on the job because your safety equipment failed, the manufacturer of that equipment could be at fault along with your employer, if they were aware that the equipment had problems. We can dissect the case to find out and create a strategy for compensation.
  • Car wrecks.  People that get into a car wreck with a truck driver need to look for whom to hold liable.  It isn’t as cut and dry as if a regular driver hit you because the driver was on the job for another company.  We need to determine which insurance company to file a claim with and the best way for you to receive compensation for your injuries.
  • Injured in front of a store.  If you were doing your Christmas shopping and injured in front of a retail store, we need to determine if the store is liable, the property management company that maintains the building or the building owner themselves.  This takes research and planning in order to find the responsible party and hold them liable for any negligence that led to your injuries.

These are a few examples of how in many cases, identifying who is liable and proving they were responsible for your injuries, is not exactly cut and dry.  It takes someone that is experienced with personal injury cases in order to properly locate the responsible party and build a case for why they should compensate you for your injuries.  This process starts during your consultation, where we can ask detailed questions.

Once retained, we go to work investigating the circumstances leading up to your injury and building a solid case for liability.   As a personal injury attorney, we will use the information you provide as a starting point for doing our research and then build a strategy around the facts. To learn more or to experience personalized service from a local attorney, schedule your consultation.

What You Need to Know About Family Law and Common Law Marriage in Texas

Family LawWhile practicing family law, many people ask us questions about Common Law marriage, when it applies and what it means for couples.  Every state has different definitions and laws that define what makes a marriage, so it is important to understand what the regulations are for this state.  At times, people are considered legally married without even knowing it.

Here are answers to commonly asked questions:

I am living with someone.  Does that make us married?
According to the state of Texas, you may be. The answer depends on whether or not you are living together in a romantic “marriage” relationship or if you are simply roommates. Additionally, you need to tell people that you are married or introduce each other in that way.

I call my girlfriend my wife.  Does that make us married?
If you are living together and frequently use that term for each other, the law may consider you to actually be husband and wife.  If you don’t intend to marry your partner, you need to make it clear that your relationship is not a marriage relationship but a dating one. You must also agree to be married so if that conversation has never come up, you could be considered single. This can be confusing so if you are unsure if you are married or not, consult with an expert in family law.

If we apply for credit together are we married?
Potentially.  You still need to meet the other conditions such as living together, telling people you are married and agreeing to be married.  If you apply for credit together and check the box for being married without verbally introducing each other as such, that could still meet that aspect of the criteria.

Is there a timeframe for how long we need to live together first?
No, in the state of Texas, you can be married under Common Law by meeting the three key provisions even if you just started living together.  This is the one aspect that confuses a lot of people that move from out of state as many other states require couples to live together for several years or longer.

What happens if we want to break up?
Couples that are considered to be married under Common Law have to go through the divorce process just like married couples do.  This is a real surprise for people that never anticipated this. If the state believes you are married, based on your actions, you need to go through the entire process. That means you have to meet certain criteria in order to “divorce”, regardless of whether or not you knew you were married. This includes living apart for three years, abandonment for a year or longer, one person being confined to a mental hospital, cruelty or a felony conviction.  If you prove one of these factors, you may qualify for a divorce.

If you are unsure about the current status of your relationship, schedule an appointment.  We will review your situation and discuss the family law with you so that you know how to proceed and what your legal options are.

Family Law and How to Win in Your Divorce Case

Family LawIf you are getting divorced, it is important to know that family law can be complicated. Not only are their legal issues involved but emotions are also high. This can make the entire process stressful and overwhelming.  To top it off, most people want to win in their divorce case and you should considering that it has the ability to impact the rest of your life.

The Taylor Law Firm, PLLC helps people throughout the Henderson area that are going through a divorce.  There are several things that you can do before and during your case that will increase your chances of winning and getting the outcome that you desire.  Here is what you need to know.

  • Try counseling.  If you and your spouse can repair your marriage, it will prevent you from going through the process and dealing with the challenges that are created by being divorced.  If your relationship is not repairable, perhaps there is an opportunity to end it amicably.
  • Speak with a lawyer first.  You and your spouse may have discussed divorce for a while but have not done anything to move the process forward.  Before you make it clear that you are moving ahead, schedule a consultation with an expert in family law.  There may be certain things that you need to do to protect yourself ahead of time.  For example, you never know if your spouse will react by trying to immediately close down your credit cards, remove your name from the bank account, etc.  By creating a strategy ahead of time, you can protect yourself and your assets while positioning you for the win.
  • Know what you want.  If you know what you want out of your divorce, this will help you to achieve it.  You should make a list of the “must haves” and “don’t really care about” items.  Divorce typically involves a high level of negotiations and giving your attorney a list of these items will help them to do a better job of negotiating on your behalf.
  • Set a custody schedule you can live with.  When you and your spouse separate, the custody schedule you set may not be as temporary as you think.  Courts tend to stick with the status quo so don’t agree to a schedule, even temporarily that you don’t want to live with in the long run.  Your attorney can help you create a strategy for getting the custody arrangement that you want.
  • Work with a CPA.  There are many financial ramifications of divorce and working with a CPA can help you to plan for them.  Untangling assets is easier if you understand what you have and the tax consequences associated with your actions.
  • Try mediation.  Your divorce lawyer can mediate on your behalf to try and reach resolution on some or all of the issues in your divorce.  When you mediate (negotiate) with your spouse you retain more control over the process and outcome then if you go to court.  In court, the judge is in complete control and you never know what the outcome will be.

Hiring an expert in family law is important.  If you are getting a divorce call The Taylor Law Firm, PLLC at (903) 392-2275 to schedule your consultation.

What to Know Before Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

Personal Injury AttorneyIf you have been hurt in an accident, you need a personal injury attorney to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the financial compensation you need to take care of your family along with receiving prompt medical attention.  Each accident is different, and some insurance companies are more likely to cooperate than others. Hiring a lawyer right away will give you the best shot at getting the treatment you need and moving your case forward in an expedited timeframe.

Before you hire a lawyer there are things you need to know, including:

Location Matters.  Working with a local attorney who practices in the county where your claim will be filed is extremely important.  It will save you money by reducing or eliminating travel time fees and will also give you a local advantage.  Each county has a different set of nuances that are present in the courtroom.  This is as simple as knowing how judges respond to situations to how a document needs to be filed.  The more experience your attorney has in your county, the more efficient they will be at the process overall.

Personal Injury Law is Unique.  When looking for an attorney, keep in mind that a personal injury lawyer is a specialist at practicing this type of law.  Hiring a specialist can help you to get better results because they have the experience and resources that other practitioners may not have.  For example, you wouldn’t want a divorce lawyer handling a business lawsuit.  Similarly, it doesn’t make sense to hire someone other than a specialist for your personal injury case.

Hire Someone that Will Work Your Case.  Not every attorney is willing to put time into researching your case and looking for evidence to back up your claim.  In fact, some won’t put any evidence together unless you provide it to them.  It is important to find out what an attorney’s style is and how they build a case before hiring them. This way you can work with a personal injury lawyer that is willing to fight hard to make sure that you receive the compensation that you deserve.

Ask About Fees. Each attorney charges differently.  It is important to find out how much they charge and how they charge.  Having the right expectation from the beginning will ensure that there is no confusion on either side down the road.  Make sure to ask if you are responsible for any third party fees during the course of your case and if so, what they anticipate those charges to be.  This way you can budget for them.

The Taylor Law Firm, PLLC handles a variety of personal injury cases and will provide you with the representation you need in order to receive the best possible outcome for your case.  There is no guarantee what will happen during negotiations or at trial.  The best thing you can do is hire a lawyer that you know will fight for your rights and work hard to get you the compensation you deserve.  Call (903) 392-2275 to schedule your consultation.

Why You Need a DUI Attorney in Texas

DUI AttorneyIf you’re arrested for a DUI in Texas, hire a DUI attorney immediately.  In many states, people are able to stand by themselves without the assistance of a lawyer if they have been arrested for drunk driving. The laws are easier to understand, and the penalties may not be as severe.  As for those who are arrested in Texas for either driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), the penalties are great. Each of these is treated as a very serious offence, and prosecution is often swift with severe penalties. The difference is that with a DWI, chances are that your license will be suspended for a shorter amount of time than with a DUI. If you consider that your license will probably get suspended under either scenario, you are beginning to realize why it is imperative to have an attorney represent you if you are charged with a DUI / DWI in Texas. [Read more...]

A Criminal Defense Attorney Will Help You to Stay Free

Criminal Defense AttorneyAfter being arrested, it is important to call a criminal defense attorney.  You have the right to remain silent and to speak with an attorney.  It is imperative that you invoke your rights and do so right away.  The police may try to entrap you or to coerce a confession.  Once you have asked for an attorney they are not allowed to ask you questions until your attorney arrives.  This is the best form of protection as what you say during an interview, the car ride to the police station, in holding, and in jail can all be used against you in a court of law.  Do not trust anyone, as you never know if what you say will come back to bite you at trial.  Even a simple joke can be perceived as a confession.

We recommend that clients hire a lawyer instead of working with a public defender. [Read more...]