Texas Laws

How To Buy A House in Texas

From Contract to Close Real Estate 101 In case you plan to usher out the old year and welcome in the new with a real estate transaction, here is a little heads-up on the people and terminology involved.   In Texas we sell and purchase real estate only by a written instrument.  It just isn’t enough to say “Give me $200 and the North 40 is yours.”   The document that transfers ownership in real...

Legal vs Ethical Responsibilities

The Post-Thanksgiving Blues Reflections Bring Good Cheer With any luck, you have finished waving goodbye to the last of the relatives and returned to your home.  Home, a place where you can reminisce in private about all of the real and imagined slights, jabs and jibes made by that graceless, greedy, egocentric, are-you-sure-we-are-even-related mob.   Too soon?   Let’s steer your emotions towards a more productive use by reflecting on the differences between your moral...

How To Start An LLC In Texas

Join the Club -  The Exclusive, Elusive Texas LLC Limited Liability Companies are all the rage in business circles.  You need to know the basics if you have any aspirations at all to run with the in-crowd.  You may eventually decide that you need to bring at least one LLC into your life. An LLC is a creature of statute.  Since we’re in Texas, we will focus on LLCs created under...

How to Self-Prove a Will In Texas

One of the most common problems with legal documents arises when you take your documents to the bank to be signed, witnessed or notarized. An employee of a bank may be able to witness your document or notarize it, but what the employee cannot do is give you legal advice about the document or what legally is required for the document to be valid. What is A Will? A classic example...

Wrong Bodies and Right Laws: Courts and Legislature Speak

The courts and the legislature have been very busy.  Here are a few select recent happenings. Divorce cuts off your former spouse's right to decide what will happen to your body after your death and who gets to sit on the front row at your funeral.  This new law dovetails nicely with existing law that says divorce cuts off your beneficiary designations naming your former spouse. If you walk into the...

Guardianship Reform at the Forefront of State Policies

It is easy to criticize a state government, but we should also give credit where it is due. Texas has been recognized as a model for other states for its Guardianship Abuse Fraud and Exploitation Deterrence Program. That is guardianship reform, folks, and it is a good thing.  The population of Texans 65+ is projected to double to 6 million by 2030. Since 2014, the Texas Judicial Council has been studying guardianship...

Privacy for the Deceased: Law Provides Limited Protection

Suppose your father, an intensely private person, dies as the result of a bizarre murder-for-hire scheme. The press is everywhere, demanding family public statements, autopsy results and funeral arrangements.   Some fanatic even sends out a tweet soliciting protestors for your father’s graveside service. You wonder what you can do to secure your father’s privacy after death. The answer starts with the general principle that a person’s right to privacy lapses at his...

Happy HIPAA! Getting the Most from Your Family Gathering

Perhaps there was a master plan that caused the traditional family gatherings of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas to fall so close together. If you are into conspiracy theories, you might even question the motive behind throwing family members into close contact for days on end. The incidental benefit is that after all of the forced family togetherness, you now have a good idea who you want to name on your...

The Year in Review – 2017 Brought About Big Changes in the Law 

2017 was a very busy year in Texas law. At least twice a year, insurance companies issuing annuity and life insurance contracts must compare their in-force policies with the records of the Death Master File to determine if their insured is dead. If a death is confirmed, then the insurer must make a good faith effort to locate and contact each policy beneficiary. If the insurance company cannot locate beneficiaries, then within...

Problem Solved – 85th Legislature Hits the Bullseye

It turns out that the Texas 85th Legislature was pretty creative with probate problem-solving. This should delight administrators and executors throughout our land. The first problem concerned that pesky law requiring a will to be probated within 4 years from the date of death. Some judges interpreted that to mean that the will had to be actually admitted to probate within the 4 year period – a process which required...

Changes for Better or Worse – New Laws Hit Seniors Hard

New laws, rules and court opinions are coming out faster than Washington gossip, and there’s no end in sight. The new Fiduciary Rule has been phased in for brokers and insurance agents, who now must give advice based on their client’s interests and not on the agents’ own financial interests. The effective date was June 9, 2017, although the full rule (including the enforcement provision) didn't take effect until January...

Into the Line of Fire – Federal Gun Laws Stymie Estate Executors

It is fairly common when a gun owner dies for his or her probate estate to end up holding firearms. That may be hazardous for the probate executor and the beneficiaries, whose ignorance of the federal and state gun laws could result in some pretty lengthy jail time. First, some background. Texas lightly regulates the buying and selling of firearms. In contrast, the federal government heavily regulates every part of the...
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