Monday, March 28, 2011

Excellent Resources for Texas Employers

Running a business is demanding and business owners can use all the help they can get.  I just attended my second TWC (Texas Workforce Commission) Business Conference for Texas Employers.

Is it my opinon that many, if not most Texas employers don't know about the resources available to help them.  For some employers, "TWC" may have a negative connotation because the agency is associated with "having to pay taxes", regulations, claims for unemployment or injury against the company, and audits.  

In reality, the TWC has an entire section that is devoted to Texas employers. There are three Chairmen appointed to the Texas Workforce Commission. One represents employers, one represents labor, and one represents the public.  As part of the agency's service to Texas employers, the following resources are available:

1. The Texas Employers' Hotline, where employers can call and ask questions 1-800-832-9394

2. The magazine "Texas Business Today", which is available free of charge by an online search, or by subscription.  http://www.twc.state.tx.us/news/tbt/tbt.html    In addition to containing legal information, this publication also contains good, practical advice about day-to-day situations in the workplace and advice about how to deal with them.  For instance, in the Winter 2011 issue, check out the articles "Taking steps to deal with poor attitudes in the workplace" and "How to deal with employees who refuse to sign policies or warnings" (by William T. Simmons, Legal Counsel for Chairman Tom Pauken).

3. An all-day seminar for Texas employers which is " a steal" at $85 and de-mystifies employment laws and regulations, unemployment benefit calculations, and hiring procedures.  Seminar materials include a text and disk with explanation of the laws affecting Texas employers, required posters, sample forms and sample language to help you create office policies.  

4. Programs that reward Texas employers for hiring an unemployed worker, or a veteran. Check out http://www.twc.state.tx.us/news/txback2work.pdf 

5. the "Skills for Small Business" Program for tuition reimbursement for employees who further their skills by attending work-related classes at a local community college.

Texas employers, be sure to check out these helpful resources! Be aware that some of the programs available may not be available forever, as funding may be limited.

Kalish Law Office has been representing businesses and families in The Woodlands, Texas since 1984. www.kalishlawtexas.com

 

 

 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How to Get the Most From Your Initial Consultation with a Lawyer

If you have a legal issue that may require you to hire an attorney, you will want to get the most from your initial consultation. Here are some tips to help you do that.

 

  1. When you first contact the law firm, be prepared to briefly state what issue you have. (For example:  “I need to file for a child support increase”, or “I am thinking of starting a new business.”  By stating what you need, the staff will be able to direct you to the attorney who is best suited to handle your case.

 

  1. Prepare a brief summary of the problem and what you hope to accomplish at the consultation appointment.  For example, do you want to have your attorney negotiate for you? Do you want to file suit? Do you want guidance in how to handle the matter yourself? Do you just need to know your rights, duties, and options?

 

  1. Gather and bring any documentation that might be important to the case, especially if the case involves a contract, deed, or decree.  If you have photos or phone logs, look those over, put them in a folder and be prepared to refer to them. If you have been sued, be sure to bring the original citation that you were served.  Even if you don’t need the documents at the first appointment, gathering them will help you review the facts and will save time later.

 

  1. Make copies of anything that you want to leave with the lawyer if you decide to hire him/her. Except in rare circumstances, it is best for you to retain your original documents.  Making an additional copy in advance can save time and expense and will allow each of you to review the same document while talking about the case.

 

  1. Be sure that you know how much the consult will cost and how much time you will be given.   You will want to state your problem, get the attorney’s opinion, and then have a chance to ask any questions that you might have.  A consultation fee will generally be set for a certain period of time (i.e., 30 minutes). For complicated cases, it may be necessary to schedule additional time beyond the allotted time.

 

Being organized ahead of time will help you get the most from your consult and will help to provide clear communication between you and your attorney.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kalish Law Texas contact information

Our new office is located at 26009 Budde Rd, Ste. A-100, The Woodlands, Texas 77380

If you have attempted to contact us during our move and have not received a reply, please call our firm at 281-363-3700 or resend your fax or email as there may have been a disruption in our communications during the move.

Thank you!

 

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

We have moved!

We have moved! Please be patient with us as we are still in the process of reconfiguring all of our technology!  In the meantime, you can reach us at our telephone number of 281-363-3700.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kalish Law Office is Moving; Just Around the Block

Our office is moving this week!!

We are going to be right around the block. Our phone number, fax number and email will remain the same.

Our new office is located at 26009 Budde Rd, Ste. A-100, The Woodlands, Texas 77380.

Please be patient with us while we make the move!

 

 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Risks of Refinancing Your Home With Your Spouse or Partner

WARNING!  Joining in the refinancing of a home previously owned by your spouse or significant other does not guarantee that you actually “own” part of the house.

 

Signing the Promissory Note DOES mean that you are legally responsible to pay the mortgage on the property. However, it does NOT mean that the property is automatically in your name, or that if your spouse dies you will automatically inherit all or part of the property.

Here is a specific example that could contain a nasty surprise waiting somewhere down the line:

 

Husband has three adult children by a previous marriage. He is divorced from Wife #1, and he owns his home, which is in his own name.   He then marries Wife #2.  


Husband and Wife #2 evaluate their joint financial situation.  They decide that it would be financially helpful to them if they were to refinance the home that they live in. They apply for, and are granted a new mortgage.  It is at a better interest rate, especially since Wife #2 is a co-borrower. Husband and Wife #2 both sign the refinance agreement, but there is no deed filed in the county records which gives part ownership of the home to Wife #2.


The couple goes along happily with their life.   Then, Husband dies suddenly, and without a will. 

Under Texas law, his prior children inherit the ownership of the home, since the deed is in his name and it is his separate property. 

 

Wife #2 does have a “life estate”, which means that she is allowed to live in the same home that her stepchildren now own. Under the paperwork she signed with the mortgage company, she is still obligated to pay the mortgage, but the home is not in her name and she cannot pass the home or any portion of it on to her own descendants. If she chooses to just walk away from the home, she is leaving behind the money that she and her deceased husband have already put into it, and her stepchildren don’t have to compensate her.

 

This is a sobering set of facts, but unfortunately it is very common.


It is very unlikely that the Husband in the example wanted this to happen.   It is more likely that he wanted Wife #2 to own 100% of the house upon his death. 

 

The situation could have been avoided in two ways. First of all, a properly drafted and filed deed would have protected Wife #2, because it would have given her immediate rights and ownership in the property.  It would have legally given her her own portion, regardless of whether the Husband lived or died. 


Secondly, the Husband could have had a valid will, which would have spelled out exactly what was to be done with his 50% upon his death. 

 

It is important for everyone to understand all of the consequences of refinancing property. It is especially when dealing with second marriages, stepfamily issues, and non-traditional families. Couples who are in same-sex partnerships and cannot legally marry each other and couples who are unsure of their "common law" status or choose not to marry can be especially vulnerable to these problems.  A timely legal consult can avoid serious problems and unpleasant surprises later on.

 

Kalish Law Office has been representing clients in family law and real estate law since 1984.  Located in The Woodlands, north of Houston, Texas281-363-3700www.kalishlawtexas.com

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dealing With Financial Issues Long After the Divorce is Final?

Although a final divorce decree is supposed to “split” the property once and for all that is not always the case.

There are a variety of reasons why a couple may find themselves dealing with property issues months or years after the final decree has been signed.  Here are some of the most common:

 

Retirement assets (401K, private and governmental retirement benefits and accounts, etc.)   Some of these accounts cannot truly and finally be ‘split’ until the retirement actually occurs.  Even if the paperwork is done at the time of divorce and is submitted to the benefits department or managing investment company, there can be additional steps before the benefits or funds are cleared for release.  Specific court orders for this purpose (called “QDROs” for Qualified Domestic Relation Orders”) are usually required.  Requirements for allocation of retirement benefits vary from company to company and these QDROs can become quite complicated at times.  Because this issue can also become time-consuming, some couples who are anxious to be finished with the divorce process decide to just “deal with it later”.

 

Real Estate Issues:  The most common scenario here is the sale of the marital residence and split of the proceeds.  The divorce decree should specify the allocation of equity, but the actual sale may not occur until months or years later, depending on the terms of the decree.   There may also be additional real property (usually income-producing) which the divorced couple has chosen to keep as co-owners for financial reasons.  Another common situation occurs when the final paperwork transferring real property was not finished, signed or filed at the time of divorce for a variety of reasons (for example, one spouse refuses or forgets to sign, or cannot be found).

 

 Split of debts:    A divorce decree can allocate a joint debt between the spouses, but it cannot take away a creditor’s right to be paid by co-debtors.  For instance, if a husband and wife owe Credit Card Company $ 10,000.00 and the Judge orders Husband to pay the $10,000.00, Credit Card Company may still legally sue both spouses if the husband does not pay the debt.   In that event, the wife will be able to sue the husband for not paying the debt, but she still is held responsible to Credit Card Company.

 

Titled Vehicles:    For any vehicle with a title, the title should be changed to reflect the name of the party to whom it was awarded. This is a step that often gets overlooked, especially for property which isn’t used often or doesn’t have a lot of monetary value (trailers or boats that aren’t used often, “spare” pickups or heavy equipment).  This can be remedied with a proper power of attorney for transfer.

 

Other Accounts:  Bank accounts, stock, and safe deposit boxes fall into this category.  Some of these assets may be accessed and split by showing a certified copy of the divorce decree, available through the district clerk’s office of the county in which you received your divorce.

 

Fraud in the Divorce:  If a spouse has hidden assets from the other spouse fraudulently during the divorce process, the innocent spouse may have a legal remedy.  In this case, it would be important to contact an attorney to determine if there is anything that should be done.

 

Some of the above problems can be remedied without the assistance of an attorney and others can become very complicated and may even require court intervention. 

 

Kalish Law Office has been representing clients in divorce and family law issues since 1984.  We are located in The Woodlands, Texas, just north of Houston.  281-363-3700