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  • Importance of Estate Planning

    Importance of Estate Planning

    We plan our vacations, can spend hours choosing a car to buy, and can even spend time selecting a spot to eat dinner.  If you are a business owner, you spend time budgeting and buying office equipment.  Rancher spend time preparing feeding, working their cattle, and vacinating them.  However, we all seem to push estate…


  • Endowments for Education

    Endowments for Education

    Are you involved with a civil organization?  Does your organization award scholarships to graduating seniors at a local high school?  Through a charitable gift, you can create an individual endowed fund to benefit most universities. The process can be easy and customizable allowing you to specify your fund’s name and whether you’d like your gift…


  • IS PROBATING A WILL REQUIRED ?

    IS PROBATING A WILL REQUIRED ?

    I am often asked “If I have a will.  Does it have to be probated ?”  The answer to that varies with the situation. First let me define Probate.   Probate is the court procedure by which a Will is proved to be valid or invalid.  In current usage probate has been expanded to generally refer…


  • JUST VOTE IN 2024

    JUST VOTE IN 2024

    Another primary is upon us.  This will be the first year without Mom and I will miss discussing the candidates with her.  I had a conversation with a friend about voting, and they had never voted.  So I thought I might try again to encourage folks to vote.  My family has always challenged each other…


  • Danger of Adding Others to Your Accounts

    Danger of Adding Others to Your Accounts

    Many folks I have counseled tell me they have added a trusted adult child to their financial accounts.  Their reasoning is that it gives the child access to help them. That is a perfectly reasonable step to take, but it is important to consider the ramifications, especially as it may affect federal deposit insurance for…


  • Texas is a Buyer Beware State Part 1

    Texas is a Buyer Beware State Part 1

    If you did not already realize, Texas is a buyer beware state when it comes to purchasing real estate.  Thus, an Earnest Money Contract necessary in a real estate transaction.  Once you have settled on a home or commercial property you want to buy and have negotiated the basic terms of the purchase, your agreement…


  • Estate Tax Exemption Change is Coming (Maybe)

    Estate Tax Exemption Change is Coming (Maybe)

    As we enter a new year, it is time to remind folks of there is a sunset provision that may dramatically change the estate tax.  This is because while the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 doubled the gift and estate tax exemption, unless Congress acts before January 1, 2026, this exemption is scheduled…


  • Local Assistance for Veterans

    Local Assistance for Veterans

    When assisting my clients with their estate planning or transferring their loved one’s assets after death, I am occasionally asked about surviving spouses veterans benefits.  We have a wonderful gentleman here in Walker County that helps families with VA benefits, Robert “Bob” Kane, Jr.,  County Veterans Services Officer.  Mr. Kane provided me with information for…


  • Co-Ownership of Property in Texas

    Co-Ownership of Property in Texas

    Occasionally I run into situations between unmarried individuals owning property together.  This can be a result of two or more people purchasing property together, but more often it is a result of two or more people inheriting property from a deceased individual. Attorneys often face co-ownership issues when advising on inheritance and probate avoidance. Inheritance…


  • Don’t Look Now, but the Estate Tax is Changing, Again

    Don’t Look Now, but the Estate Tax is Changing, Again

    The Estate Tax is Changing, Again As we approach the end of the year, it is time to remind folks of the Biden Administration’s Sensible Taxation and Equity Promotion (STEP) Act.  This makes a significant change to the Federal Estate Tax set to go in place January 1, 2026. Which means, the Estate Tax is…


  • A Practical Guide When Someone You Love Dies

    A Practical Guide When Someone You Love Dies

    When Someone You Love Dies In my office, we are long on both Probate and Life Experience.  Having focused my law practice on estate planning and probate, I have helped thousands with transferring their assets after a loved one passes (probate) and likewise I’ve guided thousands with drafting their estate planning documents to avoid issues…


  • Review Your Estate Plans Regularly

    Review Your Estate Plans Regularly

    Think of your estate plan as a living entity that needs to evolve with the changes in your life. Various life events such as the birth of a child, children growing up, changes in the family dynamics, fluctuations in your investment portfolio, career shifts, health changes, or relocation can all impact your estate plan necessitating…


  • Helping Your Parents Age Gracefully

    Helping Your Parents Age Gracefully

    It’s never too early to start preparing for the inevitable – that one day your parents will become dependent on your support. And one of the toughest realities that you will need to face is financing your parents’ care in their old age.   Here’s a short list of strategies to help your family shore…


  • Importance of Estate Planning When There are No Children

    Importance of Estate Planning When There are No Children

    Estate planning can seem fairly simple when you have children to leave your estate to. But what if you don’t have obvious beneficiaries? These days, many singles are planning to marry and have children much later in life. This doesn’t mean that estate planning can be delayed. It is just as important for singles with…


  • THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, LEGALLY SPEAKING

    THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, LEGALLY SPEAKING

    The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a smile during this holiday season.  Any readers with a legal problem should lighten up this week, life is precious, so enjoy your family and friends now and join the real world after January 1, 2024. It is time again for…


  • Seek Advice with Inheritance

    Seek Advice with Inheritance

    Inheriting wealth is a major event that, if not managed correctly, can lead to financial missteps and potential loss. Individuals who receive an inheritance often face challenges in managing their newfound wealth due to a lack of experience, existing debt issues, or tax complications.   However, proactive estate planning can help mitigate these problems, ensuring…


  • Livestock Mortality Insurance

    Livestock Mortality Insurance

    I have done several columns on laws and topics Texas landowner need to be familiar with now that they own a piece of Texas and may have ventured into an ag business.  This week, I thouht I would cover mortality insurance for livestock.  In simple terms, livestock mortality insurance generally covers the premature death of a covered…


  • Estate Planning for Single Individuals

    Estate Planning for Single Individuals

    In the past few weeks I have addressed the importance of estate planning for couples, married and not married.  This week, I will touch on the importance of estate planning for single folks.  Making important decisions for yourself and ensuring the proper care of your assets after your passing can be overwhelming as a single…


  • How First Responders Can Protect Their Loved Ones

    How First Responders Can Protect Their Loved Ones

    Over the past several weeks our first responders have been very busy, so they were on my mind.  While the Game Preserve Fire has been bad, it would be much worse without your bravery and dedication, which is truly appreciated. We recognize that your job can come with a lot of uncertainties and dangers. You…


  • Trust Options, What’s right for your needs?

    Trust Options, What’s right for your needs?

    While the simplicity of a Will driven estate plan in Texas is most favored, some situations dictate using a trust instead.  Navigating the different trust options in the pursuit of crafting an optimal estate plan can be overwhelming. If you are worried that things might go wrong, you can reach out to us and we…


  • Unmarried Couples and Estate Planning

    Unmarried Couples and Estate Planning

    Unmarried couples don’t receive the same legal protections as married couples when it comes to inheritance and taxes. That’s why it’s crucial for unmarried couples to engage in financial and estate planning. Without proper planning, their partner may not receive anything if they pass away.   Here are several reasons why you should consider a…


  • Joint Accounts with Right of Survivorship

    Joint Accounts with Right of Survivorship

    Many clients have asked me how to insure that a bank account or investment account passes to a particular person (spouse or child) without having to wait until a Will is probated.  First, I would like to remind you that the amount of time its takes to probate an estate in Texas depends to a…


  • Gifts to Your Family the IRS Won’t Tax

    Gifts to Your Family the IRS Won’t Tax

    Don’t allow ongoing political and financial uncertainties to hold you back from providing tax-free gifts that can benefit your family. Despite the speculation surrounding these matters, you still have the opportunity to make tax-free annual exclusion, medical-payment, and educational gifts.   By taking advantage of these gift options, you can support and contribute to the…


  • It’s Never Too Early To Start Planning

    It’s Never Too Early To Start Planning

    It’s never too early to start preparing for the inevitable – that one day your parents will become too old and dependent on your support.  And one of the toughest realities that you will need to face is financing your parents’ care in their old age.   Here’s a short list of strategies to help…


  • ASSUMPTION OF PROPERTY

    ASSUMPTION OF PROPERTY

    Occasionally, I am approached by someone who wants to convey property by an Assumption.  An Assumption is a means by which a Buyer may assume or take over the mortgage of the Seller.  The parties will exchange an Assumption Deed which provides the Buyer title to the property with the requirement to make the Seller’s…


  • Keep Tabs on Nonprobate Assets

    Keep Tabs on Nonprobate Assets

    A common nonprobate asset is an investment account with either a named beneficiary or designated to transfer on death.  When you name beneficiaries for non-probate assets, it can have various implications for each person. The outcome may vary based on individual circumstances and goals.   It is important to understand that there could be potential…


  • The Advantage of Strong Financial and Estate Planning Advisors

    The Advantage of Strong Financial and Estate Planning Advisors

    Financial abuse and fraud targeting older individuals cost anywhere from $2.6 billion to $36.5 billion annually, as estimated by the National Council on Aging.  This is a sad reflection of our society.   To protect yourself from financial exploitation, it is best to create a comprehensive estate and financial plan that will ensure your protection…


  • Real Estate Deals Gone Wrong

    Real Estate Deals Gone Wrong

    Recently, I met with clients that had discovered their property line was not where they thought.  This is a common dispute between property owners and underscores the importance of having a survey prepared when buying property.  The title company will not cover encroachments and discrepancies in property lines without a current survey.  My discussion with…


  • 5 Common Estate Planning Questions

    5 Common Estate Planning Questions

    Starting an estate plan can be overwhelming, and you probably have many questions. You are not alone. This week I will discuss five questions people often ask about last wills and testaments as they begin to think about estate planning.   1. Aren’t Wills Only for Wealthy People?   This is a common myth. Last wills…


  • BAHIA PIPELINE AND YOUR PROPERTY

    BAHIA PIPELINE AND YOUR PROPERTY

    Well, I have written about large power lines and pipelines coming through Walker County before and here we are in Walker County with another new pipeline project.  This time a Bahia Pipeline LLC is putting in a major gas pipeline.   Many of you may have been contacted in the last few months about access for…


  • Social Security Check Not Keeping Up With Inflation

    Social Security Check Not Keeping Up With Inflation

    Inflation affects all consumers, but older Americans are facing an especially dramatic loss of buying power. A recent survey by the Senior Citizens League shows that Social Security benefits have seen a 36 percent loss in buying power since 2000. That number is actually an improvement from 2022, when the loss of buying power was…


  • Do You Really Need an Estate Planning Attorney?

    Do You Really Need an Estate Planning Attorney?

    There is a widespread misconception that estate planning is simply a method of directing one’s assets to designated beneficiaries in the event of death. That’s simply too narrow of a view. Estate planning is necessary—crucial, in fact—in the event that you become incapacitated or otherwise need a loved one to manage your finances. This can…


  • Dying Without a Will

    Dying Without a Will

    Recently, I met with a client who had lost their spouse.  They owned a home together and had purchased the real estate 40 plus years ago. In order to sell the home, since the spouse passed without a Last Will and Testament, the surviving spouse could not sell the home.  They would have to resolve…


  • You Update Your Resume’, Why Not Your Estate Plan

    You Update Your Resume’, Why Not Your Estate Plan

    A resume’ is a document that shows employers what experience, skills, and education you have, and how you might perform in a job. If you haven’t updated your resume’ in years, it might not accurately show your abilities. Similarly, estate plans need to be updated regularly to reflect changes in your life and the law.…


  • Help, I’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up! Now What?

    Help, I’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up!   Now What?

    In past columns I have discussed the importance of having a Last Will and Testament.  A Will is important because it allows you to direct the distribution of your assets and enables you to name a guardian for your children.  However, a Will does not take effect until you are no longer alive.  What if you have…


  • Probate in Texas

    Probate in Texas

    I recently corresponded with my good friend, Matt Crider, who practices law in California.  The system of probate in California is vastly different that here in Texas.  In California, transferring a person’s assets through a Will can take 2 years and the court sets the fee.   Probate is simply the administration of a deceased person’s…


  • LIFE, Sometimes Gets Complicated

    LIFE, Sometimes Gets Complicated

    We all face challenges, that is life.  However, sometimes events occur that result in a loved one being hospitalized or finding themselves in need of extensive care or worse, loss of a loved one.  These are just some compelling reasons to work on your estate plan now.  Making sure that you have an estate plan…


  • Letters of Instruction in Estate Planning

    Letters of Instruction in Estate Planning

    A good friend and client pointed out to me that I had not done a column on lettres of instruction.  So, this week, that is the topic I will cover.   A comprehensive estate plan often includes writing a Last Will and Testament to transfer your assets to your beneficiaries.  Once you’ve passed away, the executor of…


  • Estate Planning with an Age Difference

    Estate Planning with an Age Difference

    When you are married to someone who is significantly older or younger than you, planning for the future can be different for each of you. To make sure you and your loved ones are protected, it’s important to have a detailed financial and estate plan. To make sure your plan works as intended, you should…


  • Neglecting Your Estate Plan

    Neglecting Your Estate Plan

    Risk of Neglecting Your Estate Plan The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the law.  Any readers with a legal problem, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult an attorney for advice on their particular circumstances. Life is unpredictable and certain events…


  • What is Hospice Care?

    What is Hospice Care?

    The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the law.  Any readers with a legal problem, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult an attorney for advice on their particular circumstances. Hospice care is a type of health care that patients with terminally…


  • DECEDENTS?

    DECEDENTS?

    DECEDENTS? The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the law.  Any readers with a legal problem, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult an attorney for advice on their particular circumstances. What are DECEDENTS? Often we in the legal world forget there…


  • Think of Your Health Care Needs in Advance

    Think of Your Health Care Needs in Advance

    Think of Your Health Care Needs in Advance The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the law.  Any readers with a legal problem, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult an attorney for advice on their particular circumstances. For most people, thinking…


  • Business Owners and Estate Planning

    Business Owners and Estate Planning

    When the business is dependent on you as the owner, having an estate plan before you need one is a critical investment. If you are injured or suddenly pass away without an estate plan in place, your business may not be able to survive. After your death, your entire business and its assets may have…


  • Seek Advice Before Signing Oil & Gas Leases

    Seek Advice Before Signing Oil & Gas Leases

    While it has been several years since the presence of “landmen” in Walker County, I am often ask about mineral interest and a landowner’s rights whether it is a proposed oil and gas lease or the sale of real estate.  So, I thought this a good subject for this week’s column.   If you own real…


  • Vacation Homes and Estate Planning

    Vacation Homes and Estate Planning

    In 2018, around 7.5 million second homes existed, which is about 5.5% of all homes. These homes are important because they hold cherished memories for you and your family. To make sure that these memories and your property are protected, it’s crucial to consider the following points about estate planning. Estate Planning for Vacation Property:…


  • Pros and Cons of Probate

    Pros and Cons of Probate

    A good friend and classmate, Matthew Crider, practices estate planning law in California.  He wrote an article on the pros and cons of probate there, so this week, I have done the same for probate in Texas.    Many times the term “probate” frequently carries a negative connotation. In fact, financial planners advise many individuals,…


  • Keep Your Money In The Family

    Keep Your Money In The Family

    The inheritance you leave could be eaten away by taxes or given to the wrong person(s).  This week, I will try to provide tips to avoid this.     Everyone should have the basic estate plan components.  A life insurance policy, a Will, a designation of agent to control disposition of remains, a durable power of…


  • Do I Need to Probate This Will?

    Do I Need to Probate This Will?

    I am amazed at how many times I am asked is “Do I need to probate this Will?”  Unfortunately, when a spouse passes away, the surviving spouse is given misinformation that they do not need to probate their deceased spouse’s Will because they were married.  This is not the rule of law.  Unfortunately, many surviving…


  • ROLE OF AN EXECUTOR

    ROLE OF AN EXECUTOR

    A question I am commonly asked is what role does the Executor of an estate play?  I can’t stress the importance of choosing your executor.  If someone close to you asked you to be the executor, you probably feel honored, but at the same time you may be quite unsure of your responsibilities. What do you…


  • When an Executor May Need to be Replaced

    When an Executor May Need to be Replaced

    An executor is the person responsible for performing a number of tasks necessary to transfer assets or wind down the decedent’s affairs. Generally, the executor’s responsibilities involve taking charge of the deceased person’s assets, notifying beneficiaries and creditors, paying the estate’s debts and distributing the property to the beneficiaries. The executor may also be a…


  • Estate Planning Tips for Retirees

    Estate Planning Tips for Retirees

    As you near retirement, your approach to estate planning is different from other stages of your life. When you no longer earn a salary and benefits from a job, how will you sustain your new lifestyle? You must be able to afford your needs while securing your family’s future during retirement. This is where smart…


  • What is the Difference Between a Partnership and Corporation? Part 2

    What is the Difference Between a Partnership and Corporation? Part 2

    Continuing from last week’s column on partnerships, this week I will discuss some of the aspects of a corporation.  One key point is that a corporation survives the death of one of its shareholders or officers.  Partnerships cease upon the death of a partner.   Deciding whether to incorporate:     In deciding what type of organization…


  • What is the Difference Between a Partnership and Corporation? Part 1

    What is the Difference Between a Partnership and Corporation? Part 1

    Met with a client recently to discuss the differences between a partnership, corporation and Limited Liability Corporation were.  I thought that might make a good topic for this column and so I will start this week with describing a partnership.   A partnership is an association of two or more persons to carry on as…


  • The Danger of Homemade Wills

    The Danger of Homemade Wills

    Reading Consumer Reports this week, I learned the difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate. Hot cocoa will generally include much less natural cacao fat—also called cocoa butter—than would hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is therefore a richer sensory experience.  Most prefer the richer sensory experience.  You can make either at home, but you will have…


  • What is a Will?

    What is a Will?

    It dawned on me the other day that, while I know what a Will is, maybe some of you do not. Therefore, in this brochure I will attempt to explain what a Will is and what the requirements are for one to be valid. A testator is a person who leaves a Will in force…


  • Fall Estate Planning Checklist

    Fall Estate Planning Checklist

    A well-crafted, up-to-date estate plan will help to protect you and your family. Yet, Forbes reports that nearly half of adults over the age of 55 do not even have a will—let alone a comprehensive estate plan. 55 is not a magic age, as there are many families that start much younger and need estate…


  • Choose your Children’s Guardian Wisely

    Choose your Children’s Guardian Wisely

    After reading a story about a grandmother who lied to a court (did not disclose she had been convicted of theft 4 times) in order to be appointed Guardian and Trustee.  Then proceeded to embezzle $50,000 from her granddaughter (she spent granddaughter’s life insurance proceeds on beer, liquor and cigarettes), I thought it would be…


  • The Comfort That Comes With Planning Ahead

    The Comfort That Comes With Planning Ahead

    Everybody thinks it won’t happen to them. Or rather, everybody knows it’s going to happen to them eventually, but nobody thinks it’s going to happen tomorrow, or next week, or even next year. The “it” of which I speak is, of course, death. It is this perceived immortality that allows so many people to put…


  • MAKE SURE YOU TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR

    MAKE SURE YOU TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR

    As hot as it is this summer, this maybe a good time to reorganize the closets, clean out those old files in the cabinet, and get rid of all those boxes in the garage.  Call it “Extended Spring Cleaning” if you will.  Anytime someone “Spring Cleans” seems to be a good time to take stock…


  • Art and Sentimental Items in Estate Planning

    Art and Sentimental Items in Estate Planning

    The New York Times has an interesting article on the value of an art collection in estate planning.   That’s not something most people think about. After all, most people aren’t serious art collectors.  Even among those who are, these collections usually exist more for personal satisfaction than financial gain.   “Art investors are nearly…


  • Do I Probate My Spouse’s Will?

    Do I Probate My Spouse’s Will?

    Do I probate my spouse’s Will?  YES!  A common misconception is that you do not have to probate a Will when your spouse dies.  Real estate, like automobiles, is titled to convey ownership.  The title defines who has legal rights to a property and it must be  transferred when the property is sold.  Title issues…


  • LegalZoom Documents are Full of Pitfalls

    LegalZoom Documents are Full of Pitfalls

     LegalZoom and other do-it-yourself document preparation services want you to believe that the process of preparing a Will is as easy as filling in the blanks on standardized forms. They try to lure you with a cheap product and a process that takes less than half an hour to complete. They try to assure you…


  • ESTATE PLANNING WITH PRIVATE REVERSE MORTGAGES

    ESTATE PLANNING WITH PRIVATE REVERSE MORTGAGES

    I have never been a fan of Reverse Mortgages. Reverse mortgages, usually obtained from financial institutions, allow people who are at least 62 years of age to convert their home equity into cash, which is received by the homeowner either as a lump sum, a line of credit, or monthly payments. The loan becomes due,…


  • Capacity to Execute Documents

    Capacity to Execute Documents

    Proper execution of a legal instrument requires that the person signing have sufficient mental “capacity” to understand the implications of the document. While most people speak of legal “capacity” or “competence” as a rigid black line–either the person has it or doesn’t–in fact it can be quite variable depending on the person’s abilities and the…


  • IMPORTANCE OF A POWER OF ATTORNEY

    IMPORTANCE OF A POWER OF ATTORNEY

    Previously, I wrote about the importance of having a Texas power of attorney. In Texas, this instrument consists of a Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Declaration of Guardian, Directive to Physicians, Family and Surrogates and Disposition of Remains sections. While I often advise clients on the benefits of these instruments, far too…


  • Importance of Title Insurance

    Importance of Title Insurance

    Real estate is as HOT as the temperatures here in Texas. You hear of property selling before it is on the market. But don’t get in too big of a rush. What if you learned after you spent what is typically the largest expenditure in a person’s life, that your deed was not valid or…


  • Pets ARE Family

    Pets ARE Family

    Many of you know that my son, Jacob, was fortunate enough to be one of Texas A&M University’s mascot, Reveille’s caretakers last year. I am an Aggie, Class of ‘88, and thought I knew a lot about Aggieland,, but my appreciation for Reveille and her care grew watching Jacob compete and then care for her.…


  • PASSWORDS

    PASSWORDS

    Passwords!  If you are like me, you hate getting notices you must update or change your password.  With the digital world we live in, it seems like we have a million passwords.  Electronic passwords are a relatively new concept, but a reality in today’s world.   When I was a kid I could remember 100 phone numbers and call…


  • LONG TERM CARE IN TEXAS

    LONG TERM CARE IN TEXAS

    When planning for retirement, an often overlooked consideration is the cost of long-term care.  The principal sources of payment for long term care are personal savings/income, Medicaid, and long-term care insurance. Texas Health and Human Services Commission records  indicate the sources of payment for nursing home care nationwide are:   Medicaid                     52% Private Pay                 …


  • Personal Caregivers

    Personal Caregivers

    Caregivers are an essential part of long-term care for older adults.  We are all going to age and most will need some sort of care.  However, there are precautions that should be taken.   The most well-known form of caregiver is a family member or close friend who takes on the care of a loved…


  • DIRECTIVE TO PHYSICIANS IN TEXAS

    DIRECTIVE TO PHYSICIANS IN TEXAS

    Texas has enacted the Natural Death Act which allows any competent adult, by signing a directive to physicians, or “living will,” as it often is called, to instruct his or her physician to withhold or withdraw artificial life-sustaining procedures in the event of a terminal condition.  The directive takes effect only after two physicians determine…


  • Renewable Energy Leases

    Renewable Energy Leases

    Have you driven across the Panhandle of West Texas recently?  White wind turbines, the same ones you see going up I-45 through Huntsville, now fill the horizon.  This new industry is the renewable energy industry, but commonly referred to as wind and solar energy.  Texas has become the largest wind energy producer in the nation, with wind…


  • Watch Your Language, Debt Collectors

    Watch Your Language, Debt Collectors

    In a letter to a debtor intended to prompt payment of $250 in debts, a collection agency’s choice of words entangled it in protracted litigation under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).  The theme of the dunning letter was honesty, or the lack thereof, on the debtor’s part.  In all capital letters, the…


  • SEEK AN ATTORNEY WHEN CONVEYING PROPERTY

    SEEK AN ATTORNEY WHEN CONVEYING PROPERTY

      You would not believe what I have found right here in Walker County,  Texas with regards to property records. Hand written, homemade, or  instruments that have nothing to do with what they state they are, all proporting to convey property.  Just this week, I tried a case where a seller tried to evict someone…


  • Agricultural Lease Agreements

    Agricultural Lease Agreements

    If there is one piece of advice I could give everyone, it would be get it in writing.  Leasing agreements can be beneficial to both landowners and tenants alike.  For a landowner, a lease agreement may allow continued revenue without his or her physical labor needed to operate a farm or ranch.  A hunting lease…


  • JUST VOTE

    JUST VOTE

    JUST VOTE The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the law.  Any readers with a legal problem, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult an attorney for advice on their particular circumstances. Another primary is upon us.  A couple of years ago…


  • Rule Against Perpetuities

    Rule Against Perpetuities

    Can I first just say, “WHEW!”  I am glad I am not still in law school.  The Rule Against Perpetuities was one of those subjects the law school professor loved to “hide the ball” with us on.  That is to say, confuse us to the point our heads hurt.  The rule Against Perpetuities is a…


  • WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS?

    WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS?

        We all procrastinate.  However, when it comes to estate planning, and particularly drafting a Will, it seems to get worse.  Many couples think they are too young to need a Will or any kind of estate planning.  But, as I have discussed in earlier columns and this is driven home to me every…


  • Probate Without a Will in Texas

    Probate Without a Will in Texas

    We Americans relish our freedoms. We want to live how we like, spend our hard-earned money on what we want and carry automatic rifles if we so desire. And we resist when the government tries to interfere with our lives.  However, less than half of all Americans have even the most basic estate planning documents. …


  • Landlocked Property Myth

    Landlocked Property Myth

    A common legal myth that is often heard in cafes and barber shops around Texas is that property cannot be landlocked because a neighboring landowner is required to allow entry. This is simply false. Understanding this can be important for both the landlocked owners and neighboring landowners so that each party understands his or her…


  • Steps for Landowner Liability Protection

    Steps for Landowner Liability Protection

    There are a number of steps for a landowner to consider in order to protect himself or herself from liability. Importantly, there is no magic solution that will ensure a landowner will never be liable for injury. Further, there is nothing a landowner can do to prevent a person from filing suit against the landowner.


  • Landowner Liability

    Landowner Liability

    A common concern for any Texas landowner is when they may be held liable if someone is injured on their property. Landowners often ask, “What can I do to protect myself in the event this occurs?” It is important for landowners to understand the duty the law imposes on them for each person entering their…


  • What Do You Own?

    What Do You Own?

    Crazy question What do you own?  The starting point for any Texas landowner in considering the legal issues he or she may face is to consider what the landowner actually owns.  This week’s column will address some of the aspects of ownership. When land is acquired, through purchase or otherwise, a good starting point for…


  • Don’t Look Now, but its Estate Tax May be Changing

    Don’t Look Now, but its Estate Tax May be Changing

    As we watch the Houston Astros approach the end of the regular season, folks in Washington D.C. are talking about two significant changes that could affect us all. Senator Bernie Sanders has sponsored the 99.5 Percent Act (99.5% Act) and the Biden Administration is working on the Sensible Taxation and Equity Promotion (STEP) Act.  While…


  • Building, Replacing & Maintaining Fences

    Building, Replacing & Maintaining Fences

    An area of law I am often questioned about revolves around building, replacing and maintaining fences. So I thought it would be an excellent subject for a column this week.  Texas law does not require neighboring landowners to share in the costs or future maintenance of a boundary fence, unless a landowner has agreed to…


  • CONTRACTS FOR DEED – A BAD OPTION

    CONTRACTS FOR DEED – A BAD OPTION

    In the past, a common method of seller financing was through a Contract for Deed. In this transaction the seller and purchaser enter into an agreement that the purchaser will make payments over time and once a certain amount is paid the seller will deed the property to the purchaser. If you have previously or…


  • DON’T BE A SHADETREE “ATTORNEY”

    DON’T BE A SHADETREE “ATTORNEY”

    You would not believe what I have found right here in Walker County, Texas with regards to property records. Hand written, homemade, or instruments that have nothing to do with what they state they are, all purporting to convey property. Just this week, I had a family trying to refinance their property. Issue was, a…


  • Texas Farm Animal Liability Act

    Texas Farm Animal Liability Act

    On June 4, 2021, Governor Abbott signed House Bill 365, which modified the Farm Animal Liability Act (FALA) to ensure that it does apply to working ranches and in situations involving injured ranchers and ranch hands, among other changes. All ranch owners should pay careful attention to the changes which modify the scope of application…


  • Dying Young Without a Will

    Dying Young Without a Will

    The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the law. Any readers with a legal problem, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult an attorney for advice on their particular circumstances. Just this past week our community lost another young soul. Please remember…


  • IMPORTANCE OF HOME INSPECTIONS

    IMPORTANCE OF HOME INSPECTIONS

    I enjoy reading my friend Mike Bradley’s Facebook post on home inspections. While they are humorous on the one hand, it is sad to think some homes are not inspected and expensive issues not found. Home inspections are a visual evaluation of a home from roof to foundation (Possibly basement, but rare in Texas). It’s…


  • Welcome to Texas! Have you reviewed your Estate Plan?

    Welcome to Texas! Have you reviewed your Estate Plan?

    The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the law. Any readers with a legal problem, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult an attorney for advice on their particular circumstance. Texas is experiencing a great deal of influx of people from other…


  • DUTIES OF AN EXECUTOR

    DUTIES OF AN EXECUTOR

    The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the law. Any readers with a legal problem, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult an attorney for advice on their particular circumstances. One of the most important functions a person can perform for their…


  • Medicaid in 2021

    Medicaid in 2021

    The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the law. Any readers with a legal problem, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult an attorney for advice on their particular circumstances. One of the greatest concerns for my clients is that they may…


  • Beware of Reverse Mortgages

    Beware of Reverse Mortgages

    While I love Tom Selleck and his Sackett movies, I do not believe he (or anyone in Hollywood) should be giving me financial advice. There is currently a marketing blitz targeting seniors to entice them into reverse mortgages. But, like the old saying goes, “If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.”…


  • Frequently Asked Questions About Guardianships

    Frequently Asked Questions About Guardianships

    While I am an advocate for the use of a Power of Attorney to avoid guardianships, I realize there are times when a guardianship cannot be avoided. Therefore, in this week’s column I will address some of the more frequently asked questions regarding guardianships. How does one go about initiating a guardianship? Any interested party…


  • So You Want To Build a House

    So You Want To Build a House

    Last night I took my youngest son, Billy, to a Huntsville Independent School District Meeting. He is working on his Eagle Scout requirement and needed to attend a public meeting. Last night’s topic was on the recently passed bond and an overview of the construction process moving forward. While a very exciting time in Huntsville,…


  • What Should You Bring to Your Estate Planning Attorney?

    What Should You Bring to Your Estate Planning Attorney?

    When making the first appointment with clients to discuss their estate plan we are commonly asked “What should I bring?” Therefore, I thought that would be a good subject for this week’s column. Your first meeting with an estate planning attorney can be daunting. Nobody really enjoys talking about their own death with a complete…