Monday, December 29, 2014

The Legal Document that Terminally Ill or Frail Patients Should Have

Persons who are facing an advanced illness are advised to think about having their physician sign specific medical orders which respect patient choices in end-of-life issues.

These orders are referred to in Texas as MOST (Medical Orders Scope of Treatment).  In other states, they may be called POLST (Physician Orders for Life-sustaining Treatment).

Here are some facts to consider:

  1. These orders are recommended for persons who have advanced or terminal illness or are frail and may die within one year. 
  2. The patient or his/her representative speaks frankly with the doctor to choose treatments that the patient wants or does not want.
  3. The preferences are put into writing and are signed by the doctor. 
  4. The form accompanies the patient. It will be recognized by EMT personnel and other emergency responders, ER staff, and other medical or nursing facilities. 
  5. It is a good idea to keep the form on the front of the patient's refrigerator or another spot where it would be seen by emergency responders. 
  6. The MOST is not for everyone.  If the person does not have an advanced illness, an "Advanced Directive" may be the best option.  
  7. An Advanced Directive can be used to designate someone to speak for the patient and discuss medical preferences in more general terms. 
  8. Click here for more information about the POLST. This is a national website. 
  9. Click here for more information about MOST. This is a Texas-specific website. 
  10. If you need assistance, a consultation with an estate planning or elder care attorney can help you and your loved ones determine the best legal documents for your situation. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Great Tips for Avoiding SCAMS!

Scammers. They are out there...  waiting.... waiting for your attention to be distracted... waiting for that moment when you let your guard down for just a minute!

Scammers target the elderly. They also may attempt to extract information from children who answer the phone. They may attempt to get information by calling a business and pretending to be a client, supplier, organization or institution (like pretending to be from the Better Business Bureau or a bank).

Scammers will text or call, email or show up in person. They will threaten you or profess their love for you.   They will offer you lottery winnings, a business opportunity, or pretend that they want to become your customer.  They will entice you to call them back or text them back in order to charge you premium rates or gather your information.

They may offer to pay you for good or services in advance, then steal bank account information or get a refund from you and then cancel the original funds they sent, leaving you holding the bag.

One of the absolute BEST sources of information on scams that I have seen is a Canadian publication.   Although I write a blog in Texas, and even though some of the laws and information may differ, I am sharing the link here because this is such an excellent and helpful publication.   Click here for the "Little Black Book of Scams".     You may be surprised as some of the information you read.

I recommend that you become familiar with the methods used by scammers and arm yourself against them. Also share the information with your elderly loved ones, your children, and your employees.  Don't be a target.

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ex-Spouse Won't Cooperate in House Sale

Sometimes a divorce is finalized but the family home is not sold immediately.   The reasons for this can vary;  the couple wants the home to be maintained for the children, the home is not ready for sale, or the real estate market in the area is changing and the couple is waiting for the optimal time to sell. 

In these cases, the divorce decree should provide specific terms as to who gets what, and there should be language which orders the parties to cooperate with each other. There may be further details about listing the home and accomplishing the sale. 

However, as time goes on, one spouse may become disinclined to cooperate. Sometimes s/he does not really want to sell, does not have the energy to deal with the preparation and sale, or (unfortunately) is holding on for vindictiveness or control.

This can quickly become frustrating for the spouse who is ready to proceed now, especially if the non-cooperation has a negative financial impact and appears to be for no good reason.

A family law attorney can help get the situation "unstuck" by representing the party who is ready to proceed.   Steps that can be taken to get things moving include; 1) Contact with the reluctant party to inform him/her that further legal action will be taken if no cooperation is shown; 2) mediation with a certified mediator to iron out problems or details which have arisen; 3) the filing of a court action requesting enforcement of the decree. 

If the divorce was granted many years ago, the decree may not be as specific as the newer decrees which have been written in the last 10 years or so.  A request can be made to the court for clarification of the language. 

These situations can become long-term frustrating problems.   Having a consult with a family law attorney can help you clarify your options and figure out how to get the ball rolling. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Why Just Having a Will May not be Enough

Do you have a current will?  If so, great!  But there are times when having a will may not be enough, or you may need a will that is more specific to your situation.

Do any of these apply to you?

  1. You own a business, but haven't made provisions for the continued operation of the business if you should die or become disabled. 
  2. You haven't made specific provisions for your minor children in your will
  3. You have a child with a disability but only have a "typical" will.
  4. You have sole responsibility of care for an older adult and have not made provisions for that person's care should something happen to you.
  5. You are in a same-sex relationship and have not addressed that in your will or powers of attorney.
  6. You don't have a health care power of attorney and want to make your specific wishes known. 
  7. You anticipate trouble from your beneficiaries and want to prevent it as much as you possibly can. 
  8. You have one or more animals and you want to make specific provisions for them.
  9. You want to designate someone to conduct "day-to-day" personal business for you in the event you should become disabled. 
  10. You want to designate someone to serve as your guardian in case it should ever become necessary. 
Remember, even if you have a will you should review it yearly to be certain that it still meets your needs.  We recommend the beginning of the year as a good time for review.  You can also ask for a consultation with an attorney to review your estate plan and be certain that it is still the best one for you. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Is Your Attorney Your "Counselor"?

Attorneys are also called "counselors at law".  That title, while it sounds "old fashioned", is actually pretty accurate.

In many (if not most) cases, there is already a crisis going on or the client wouldn't be in the office in the first place.  People don't tend to go to attorneys for "legal checkups" very often when things are going great. By the time a client appears in the office, things may have already reached a breaking point with the client's spouse, neighbor or business partner.

A compassionate and understanding attorney can help the client by giving legal advice, explaining options and providing a sympathetic ear.   Working together in an intense situation means that the client and lawyer may get to know each other well, and relatively quickly. 

It is normal to have a bond with your lawyer, and for your lawyer to have a bond with you.  However, it is often important for the lawyer to "take a step back" and remind the client that s/he cannot make certain decisions for the client, nor can s/he advise the client about things that are not legal issues.  A client can feel disappointed at this "boundary drawing", but it is a sign that the attorney cares about the client and the case, and is focused on doing a good, professional job. 

The Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts advises "Your attorney is not your therapist, and it will become very costly for you if you treat them this way. They are there to provide you with legal advice  and not marriage advice." 

If your attorney suggests that you consider visiting a therapist or speaking to a clergy member, consider it.   Your attorney is focused on seeing the "big picture" in your case and may suggest those options for a good reason. 

In the meantime, be honest with your lawyer and don't hesitate to ask questions or reveal information to him/her.   Pay attention if your lawyer tells you that s/he cannot advise you as to certain issues or suggests a referral.  This is a sign that you are being heard, and that your lawyer wants what is best for you.  

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Visitation Issues Can Arise During the Holidays

If you have children and are under court orders regarding visitation and holiday visitation make sure to check your decree in advance to avoid problems over the holidays.

Look at the decree under holiday visitation and use a calendar to determine who gets visitation and when.   Look and see what kind of notice you need to give your ex in case of changing plans.

Your Texas decree will usually say that visitation is acceptable at all times mutually agreed by the parties. So if you and your ex agree on  an alternate schedule then that's fine. The area where people get into trouble is in situations where there is or has been a lot of conflict and one party decides to just ignore the written decree and do whatever they want.  That can lead to charges of contempt.

No matter what happens try to keep things calm and think of your children try to give them a good holiday.

Another issue that can arise during the holidays has to do with safety. You as a parent have an obligation to keep your children safe. This means no drinking and driving or and no engaging in behaviors or habits that are dangerous to your children. It also means looking out for your children so that they are not endangered by adults that are under the influence.

If your current visitation schedule is no longer working for you or you have continuing concerns over the behavior of some of the adults who are in your children's life, now maybe the time to schedule a with a family law attorney about these issues.

We hope that you all have a safe happy and healthy holiday season.

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Is it Time to Form a Business Entity for your Small Business?

Forming an entity can have many benefits for a small business owner. Separating and Protecting personal assets is the one most commonly mentioned. However there are other benefits as well. 

Having a business entity can make it easier to take in other owners. It can also be beneficial to separate different aspects of a service or product provided by the business into separate companies. This can make marketing  more focused, and make bookkeeping and accounting more accurate and easier.

Business entities are regulated by state law. In Texas the most common choices are corporations limited partnerships and limited liability companies. Each type of entity has specific advantages and requirements.

The cost of includes fees to the state and also may include legal fees if an attorney is involved. 

A business attorney can help you decide which into the formation is best for your company now and for the long term, prepare and file the paperwork, give you instructions about the requirements that you will need to meet on an ongoing basis to keep your entity and compliance and up-to-date.

You can't just "file it and forget it".  You will need to be sure that you are aware of the ongoing and yearly requirements to keep taxes, filings and business records up-to-date. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Planning for the Future; Should you Become an Organ Donor?

If you are considering becoming an organ, eye or tissue donor, you can access some valuable online information to help you make your decision.

Laws relating to organ donation (as well as medical powers of attorney, durable powers of attorney, and wills/trusts) vary from state to state.  The state of Texas maintains the website If you live in another state, your state most likely has online information available for you as well. 

The website is excellent and contains facts and answers to the most commonly asked questions. Reviewing this can help you make an informed decision.

Many people choose to make this decision when they are having their wills drafted. Other people prefer to use the state registry (see the DonateLifeTexas website), or carry a card in their wallet. Some people prefer to discuss the issue with their family members, or to leave the decision up to the family to make when/if the time comes. 

It is a matter of your choice and having accurate information can help you make an informed decision.

Your attorney can explain more about various documents that can be drafted to make your wishes known about this and other issues. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Is Your Ex in Contempt of a Court Order?

Proving a charge of contempt in a court of law requires specific proof and procedure.  If you believe that your ex may be in contempt, consider the following:

  1. Contempt is a serious charge, therefore, you must have adequate proof. 
  2. Bringing a contempt case to court requires an investment of time and money. There will be legal fees, expenses and court costs (if you believe that you may qualify for legal aid, explore that option).
  3. You will need to keep track of the violations that you believe your ex has committed. This means dates, times, and a summary of what happened. (for example, S/he did not pay child support for the following months or s/he did not return the children on the following dates).
  4. You should organize all your proof and get a legal consultation with a family law attorney.
  5. If the violations include anything which poses a threat to the health and safety of your own self, your children or others, act immediately and call police when indicated. You may also need a protective order.
Your family law attorney can inform you of the various ways that the case may proceed and help you to understand all of your options. In some cases, a contempt charge may be settled prior to a trial, but if one is necessary, you and your attorney will work together to be prepared.

Important point:  If contempt of a court order is going on now, start keeping good records of dates, times, and details in case you need this for the future. It is a lot easier to keep an accurate record of something while it is happening that to try to remember it months or years later. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Getting Help With Your Mortgage

Facing loss of a home is one of the most stressful situations an individual or family can encounter. Here are some of the most common reasons that the situation occurs, along with some  resources to deal with the problem. The website is You do not need to  hire an attorney in order to apply for these  programs.

  1. Second Lien makes paying for home difficult:  Check out Second Lien Modification Program (2MP), a government program
  2. You are unemployed:  Check out Home Affordable Unemployment Program and Hardest Hit Fund, government programs
  3. Your home's value has fallen: Check out these government programs
  4. Other scenarios: Check out this list of government programs available 
The home page for the above programs is currently being advertised on television in an effort to make people aware of these resources. Nonetheless, many people are still unaware that they may qualify.

We hope these resources will be helpful. However, if your situation is more complex and involves breach of the terms of your mortgage or contract, lender issues, errors or unfair practices, or if there is litigation involved or you suspect that you may have a legal cause of action, you are advised to seek help from a private attorney or legal aid right away.

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It's a Celebration!

L to R: Attorney Sio Ramirez Pitre, Attorney Bob Kalish, Attorney Laura Kalish

Starting October 30th (to celebrate our 30th anniversary) we will give a free 30 minute initial consult to the first 30 of our new clients to mention this ad when calling to set up their initial consult. (by appointment only). Ends December 1st 2014.

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Keep Your Home & Property Safe While You Travel!

Here is some practical advice to keep your property and identity safe.  Soon we will enter the holiday season, a time when break-ins increase dramatically. If you are headed out of town, a little advance preparation goes a long way.

Basic commonsense precautions still apply.  Have someone you trust stay at or watch your home. Someone staying in the home or spending time there is a very good idea. Tell neighbors that you trust about the arrangements you've made.Try to have your house or pet sitter maintain normal routines and timing at your home. If the outdoor and indoor lighting, vehicles, yard, mail and newspapers appear as close to normal as possible then maybe a potential thief won't see an invitation.

Here are some additional ideas...
  1. Take advantage of local law enforcement's "vacation watch" program.  You may even be able to sign up online.
  2. Think twice before using a home sitter or pet sitter that advertises their presence with a sign on the sitter's vehicle. Or ask them to remove these signs while at your residence.
  3. Don't announce your trip on social media. It is a fact that thieves are now using this information!
  4. What if there were an actual emergency?  Make sure that the person who is watching your property would know what to do in the event that an emergency did happen while you were away and has the power to act! Prepare the following information before you leave town;
  • Veterinarian information (including animal emergency clinic) and ability to pay if you are going to be completely out of touch
  • Contact info for a Handyman and/or yard service 
  • Contact info for a  friend or family member with decision-making ability who can step in or help out
  • Homeowners or flood insurance information (especially if you are gone during hurricane season)
  • Contact information for a trusted neighbor
  • You may want to prepare a "House Sitter's Guide" that you can use again and again!
Reminder: If you have a pending legal case be sure to advise your attorney's office of times that you will be traveling or unavailable!

 Kalish Law Office - Family & Business Law - The Woodlands, Texas 
"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

What Information You Should Bring to the Lawyers Office for Your First Divorce Consultation

About to have a consultation with a lawyer for a possible divorce? It may help you to know in advance what kinds of questions the attorney will ask at your first meeting.

  1. Timing and certainty.  Your attorney will want to know if you have made a firm decision to file or if you are only gathering information to help you later. If you do file, are there any special issues about the timing of the filing or service of the papers? Do you need to work around a holiday, family event, child's birthday or out of town travel? 
  2. Children. Are there minor children from this marriage?  Have you thought about custody, visitation, child support and medical insurance for them? What is the day-to-day life of the children like now?
  3. Property & Debts. The attorney will ask you some general questions about the assets and debts of the marriage, and if either or both of you have any separate assets or debts. 
  4. Special considerations. What issues that are specific to your family need to be discussed? Such issues may include planning for a special needs child, running/dividing a family owned business, planning for a senior parent who lives in the household, making provisions for pets or livestock, concerns for stepchildren who are not technically part of the divorce but are part of the picture, a bankruptcy or litigation that is pending or a current pregnancy. Every case is different and your attorney is there to help you.
  5. Protecting Yourself. If there is a potential for violence against people or pets, property destruction or wasting or assets, inform your attorney. Listen carefully to any information about how to protect yourself and what to do if things start to get out of hand.

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Buying a Business?

If you are considering buying a business, you'll want to be certain to lay the proper foundation for your future success.

  1. Do your preliminary research- Use all available resources to discover information about the industry, the existing physical  location, the surrounding geographic area, and the future projections for all of the above.
  2. Get hard facts about the business- Find out about the local and online reputation of the business and its current owners. When things get serious, examine financials, physical assets and learn about the day-to-day operations.
  3. Get it in writing, the sooner the better- An earnest money contract or other contract that covers the negotiation phase can reduce risks and unpleasant surprises for both parties.
  4. Meet the right people- Find out who the current key employees, landlord, banker, and service providers are to see if you'd want to continue with them if the sale is completed.
  5. Choose and visit a business lawyer to help you- There are a multitude of issues that need to be dealt with in order to avoid future misunderstandings, loss of income or antagonistic litigation. Set yourself up for success from day one!

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Why is My Case Taking This Long?

You've heard about it or experienced it, impatience in waiting for a case to be completed.   If you are anxious to get things over with, it can feel like a case is going on forever, especially if you believe that your case is "simple" or "agreed".

Here is a list of some of the common things that (despite everyone's best efforts) take time, and why they happen:

  1. Delay: Waiting for information-  Examples: The attorney has given the client a detailed information form to fill out and is waiting for it to be returned.   A client has asked specific questions that an attorney must fully research before giving a final answer.  An opposing party has not provided important documents yet.    An home study in an adoption has not been reduced to writing. 
  2. Delay:  Problems Connecting.   Examples: Parties or attorneys playing "phone tag".   Several busy people trying to schedule a meeting, mediation  or hearing around work, travel and family schedules.  
  3. Delay: Waiting for the Court: Courts are busy places and most Texas courts have full dockets and hard-working judges and court staff.   In order to function, courts have to set specific rules for how and when cases are scheduled, procedures are followed and decisions are made. Judges also must have time to go to continuing education and must have time out of the courtroom to tend to other tasks. Once a case is filed, the court's procedure must be respected and followed.
  4. Delay- Waiting for the Document: Once an order is issued in a case, it must be signed by the Judge and imaged by the staff.  Each county has its own procedure and time frame for doing that.   Sending away to a governmental agency for documents (a new birth certificate, a death certificate, etc.) can also take time as there is a process that must be followed and government offices may be backlogged with requests.
  5. Delay- Specific procedural requirements - E-Filing is now a common requirement.  Although the procedure may ultimately be time-saving, it is fairly new and like all new things, requires training for everyone involved.  There are also certain Texas laws that specify that things must be done in a certain order, or that a certain minimum amount of time after notice or service of lawsuit must pass before a case can move forward. 
How you can help- If you are a client who is anxiously waiting for a case to proceed, you can help by making sure that you return requests for information as soon as possible, keep the lines of communication with your attorney and his/her paralegal and staff open, try to be understanding about procedures when you can, and let your attorney or the law office staff know if you will be unavailable at specific times.  

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mediation Isn't Just for Big Cases Anymore!

Mediation as a method of alternative dispute resolution has steadily grown in popularity and use since the 1980s.

Most people are familiar with the idea of court-ordered mediation for civil and family law cases.   But many people don't know these facts about mediation;

  1. If you have a dispute with another party, you can choose to hire an impartial mediator and go to mediation before filing a lawsuit. 
  2. You can find a private mediator on your own or with an attorney's help.
  3. You can ask for a judge to order mediation in a case if it hasn't already been ordered.
  4. There are different types of mediation, and different fee schedules (which depend on a variety of factors).
  5. Yes, it really is confidential.
  6. In some situations, you may be able to get free, low-cost or sliding scale mediation.
  7. Mediation can benefit your case by clarifying the issues, or helping you settle a few of the issues on the list, even if it doesn't lead to a complete settlement. 
  8. Mediation may ultimately save you money. 
  9. In some situations, a court order or contract may require mediation prior to filing a suit.
  10. Mediation and arbitration differ from each other in several important ways, but are both part of the process called Alternative Dispute Resolution.    
Don't miss out on the potential benefits that mediation can offer you.  Going to mediation is not "showing weakness" or "giving up". It is simply another avenue to a solution. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Americans With Disabilities Act - A Quick Summary of Where to Find Information

The Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA") is an important civil rights law. If you have not been involved directly with the law in any way, you may be uncertain about what it is. Even if you have had reason to use or refer to this law, you may want to have a handy summary of the basic points, and a list of links for more information.

If you own a business, you should be familiar with the portions of the ADA which affect your business.  There is a free, excellent governmental publication ("ADA Update: A Primer for Small Business") which can help you do just that. It is well-written and includes examples and illustrations that help make a complex subject understandable.  This primer deals with accessibility in public places, tax credits, service animals and answering telephone relay calls.

Title 1 of the ADA prohibits discrimination in Employment.

The title I employment provisions apply to private employers, State and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions. Employers with 15 or more employees are covered. 

The ADA prohibits discrimination in all employment practices, including job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. It applies to recruitment, advertising, tenure, layoff, leave, fringe benefits, and all other employment-related activities.

Employment discrimination is prohibited against "qualified individuals with disabilities." This includes applicants for employment and employees. An individual is considered to have a "disability" if s/he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Persons discriminated against because they have a known association or relationship with an individual with a disability also are protected. (from

The website also has valuable information about how the ADA applies to state and local government and how it applies to public accommodations, 

Other links about the ADA: 

Main ADA website

U.S. Department of Labor

US Department of Transportation Accessibility 

Federal Communications Commission Disability Rights Office 

Keep this information handy so that you can find quick answers about the ADA when needed!

Kalish Law Office - Family & Business Law - The Woodlands, Texas 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Decisions to Make About Your Will and Estate Plan

If you are making a will for the first time (or updating one for the first time in a long time), this handy list will help guide you. No matter how small or large your estate, the answers to these questions are important.

  1. Who will be the ultimate beneficiary of most or all of your estate?  
  2. What if the person(s) in item #1 dies before you do?  Who will get their portion? 
  3. What "special gifts" do you want to make, if any?  (You can give instructions about your pets or specify who gets an heirloom or a cash gift).
  4. If you have minor children- who would you want to raise them if you are unable?  
  5. If you have minor children - who would you want to take care of their finances?
  6. Who would you like to name as your executor?
  7. Who would you like to name as alternates for guardian, trustee, and executor? 
  8. Do you have any instructions about your funeral, burial, or would you like to specify cremation? 
  9. What is the total value of your estate? 
  10. Do you have a special situation that needs attention?  (For example: step family, common law marriage, same-sex marriage, domestic partnership, property in one or more states/countries, disabled child or adult who is a beneficiary of your will, spouse with dementia, small business depending on you, or any other personal concerns)?
An experienced Texas wills and trusts attorney can help with your estate planning and can tailor the situation to your specific needs.    

Often, visiting the attorney is the easy part. The hard part is going home and making the decisions about what you want. The job can be accomplished by sitting in a quiet place and writing down your desires. Then the attorney can draft an estate plan that works for you. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Five Life Principles to Help you Stay out of Trouble

In several years of practicing law, our firm has seen a lot of people in distress.  

Some problems are simply unavoidable. However, practicing a few basic principles can make you much less likely to get into legal trouble.

  1. Know your rights- If you know your legal rights in a situation you are less likely to give in when you shouldn’t, creating a hassle for later. You are also less likely to aggressively defend a position that is unreasonable (or unprovable).
  2. Choose your battles- another way to say this is “don’t sweat the small stuff”.  Unfortunately when it comes to legal issues, it is NOT all small stuff, but a lot of it is.  You may be “right” but how much energy to you want to divert to proving it? Decide what’s worth it and what isn’t.
  3. Listen to others and try to understand- Many, many lawsuits (and divorces) begin because of a misunderstanding that grows until it leads to huge problems. This is why mediation works so well; it allows people to see the situation the way the other side does.  And this is why paying attention to people’s feelings is a practical, proactive strategy to stay out of hot water and is not a frivolous waste of time.  And why treating people compassionately when you have bad news for them may help prevent them from trying to strike back at you.
  4. Pay Attention.  Read the fine print in contracts, ask questions, ask to get things in writing, ask for clarification and don’t sign or say “yes” until you are sure. If you see trouble on the horizon get legal help before things get out of control and try to stop trouble in its tracks.
  5. Stay organized & informed-   Use all your resources.  There is plenty of information available online to guide you.  For example, this blog is written with the specific intent of providing helpful information to families and businesses.  Other good online resources provide information about governmental regulations, law and risk management procedures.  Docket important dates so that you are aware of expiration dates and filing requirements that affect your personal life and your business or profession.
Avoiding trouble can become a lifestyle, in the same way as healthy living.  Don't ignore simmering problems, and don't hesitate to create strategies to minimize legal risk in your business and personal life.

Kalish Law Office - Family & Business Law - The Woodlands, Texas 
"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Divorce is Hard on Pets - Don't Forget About Them

Divorce is hard on everyone, especially pets.  Here are some things to consider if you are divorcing and have one or more pets:

  1. Pets can suffer greatly (and silently) when family life is upset.  They can't tell you what's wrong so be aware of any changes in behavior.  Talk to your vet when indicated. 
  2. Keep pets safe. Animal cruelty is illegal, period. Threatening or hurting a pet is a form of family violence.  Make a police report or seek a restraining order if violence to a pet happens or is threatened. Ask for help in keeping your pet safe temporarily if necessary.  (Additional local information: Friends of Montgomery County Texas Animal Shelters, Montgomery County Crime Stoppers on Animal Abuse, Montgomery County Women's Center).
  3. Give thought to your pet's future. Your pet trusts you and you have a responsibility.  Who is going to get the pet in the divorce? Will there be visitation or sharing of expenses during and after the divorce? (some people do choose to "share" the pet after divorce- ask your attorney about this option).
  4. Costs of pet care should be figured into your financial picture. When you tally up your monthly expenses for your attorney and for the family law judge, make sure pet care (including medical and grooming) are included.   
  5. You can't just walk away. Divorce can be stressful and scary.  Taking the time to be sure that an innocent animal is taken care of is the right thing to do.  Make sure that you are honest with yourself and others about what is right for the pet and your family. Once everything is over, make sure that the party who has the pet also has the pet's medical records, favorite toys, bed, feeding schedule, and anything else that will help make the transition go more smoothly. Your pet may go through a "mourning" period while getting used to a new situation. 
A final word.... Every year many innocent pets lose their homes and security due to divorce.   In a few cases, it may be done to protect them from family violence but in most cases financial problems, emotional issues, stress, moving, and work schedules are to blame.   If you absolutely must find another home for a pet because there is no other option, choose very wisely.   You can: 
find a no-kill shelter, an animal rescue group (Citizens for Animal Protection, Operation Pets Alive) a Breed specific rescue group (they usually take mixed breeds too).   All shelters and groups are not alike, beware and be thoroughly informed. Most shelters and volunteers are severely understaffed and overworked. There is no guarantee that your pet will be adopted, or that your pet will not have to stay in a crowed, stressful situation.

A pet is a family member.  Children (and adults) can be traumatized by the loss of a pet but can be helped emotionally by the continued presence of a loving pet.  Don't underestimate what your pet does for you. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Five Excellent Resources for Small Business

Whether you are thinking of starting a business in Texas or you already have one, here are five excellent resources that are available online to help you find information.

Of course, none of them are a substitute for the advice of a business attorney for your particular situation, but these resources can guide you and give you a wealth of information.

Five Excellent Resources for Texas Businesses: (If you are in another state, your state probably has resources similar to these on the web.)

  1. Small Business Administration.   Staring a business, choosing a location, laws and regulations, taxes, licenses and much more. 
  2. Texas Workforce Commission for Businesses and Employers Information about recruiting,  hiring, training, unemployment tax, employment law.
  3. The Texas Secretary of State Corporations Division : About start-up, choosing an business structure, name availability, trademarks and assumed name.
  4. The Texas Attorney General Consumer Protection : Consumer protection, scam warnings, protecting against cyber crime.
  5. Texas Wide Open for Business ; Starting and growing a business, choosing Texas, incentives and resources. From the Office of the Governor. 
When it is time to consult a lawyer. A lawyer can help with your start-up,  growth, risk management, asset protection, as well as helping you manage any legal problems you might have. 

Many small business owners choose to have a consult with a  business attorney solely in order to choose an attorney to work with in the future should the need arise.  

Attorney Bob Kalish

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ten Things to Consider Before Starting Your Own Business

1.     Can I go it alone & if not, what legal arrangements might I need?  If you are not going to be a one-person operation, will you need a partner? An equal partner?  How will you decide how work/finances are divided? If hiring employees, are you familiar with the laws about hiring, firing, overtime and other workplace issues? 
2.     Where will my work come from and will my plan get me in trouble? Don't just assume that you can take your customers with you if you leave your present job. Are you under any type of non-solicitation agreement from a current or former employer?  What advertising restrictions, if any, govern your field? 
3.     Do I need a business entity to be formed? Whether you need to stay a sole proprietorship or set up a formal LLC or other business entity deserves some consideration. A business attorney can consult with you and go over all the benefits of each choice. 
4.     What are the Federal tax requirements? If you've always been an employee, you'll need to become familiar with a whole new set of laws.  You'll also need to discuss tax considerations when you decide whether or not to set up as an LLC or other entity. 
5.     What are the state requirements? You'll need to become familiar with the Texas Workforce Commission, state laws, tax liabilities and reporting requirements for your business, as well as any licensing laws and industry requirements (such as TABC licensing for serving alcohol). 
6.     What are the local requirements? Do you need a local license for what you do? How about a building permit for renovations or an alarm permit for your security system? Do you need to file an assumed name certificate in your own (and possibly other) counties?
7.     What are the industry requirements? Depending on your past experience, you may have this one all figured out. But if you are stepping into a new territory, there may be some things you haven't even considered.   If you are a licensed professional, don't forget to review rules and regulations published by your licensing board. 
8.     How can I manage my risk?  This may include having contracts drawn up to use with your suppliers or customers, creating a safety program for your workers, and making sure you have an emergency plan written out. 
9.     How can I keep up with the management requirements? You must be organized if you are going to be successful in your business.   What tasks can you do, which tasks can you delegate, and which tasks can you hire out? 

10.  Where can I get support?   Having a business attorney you can trust, an accountant or bookkeeper on your side, and other business people to ask for advice can be a tremendous time and money-saver. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Ten Things to Do to De-Escalate a Conflict

The battle lines are drawn and despite best intentions, neither party seems to be able to refrain from digging in stubbornly.    One thing leads to another and before you know it, communication has deteriorated or broken down altogether.

Sound familiar?  If not, it should!  We ALL have been there at one time or another. Many times the issue eventually resolves on its own, or the situation changes. But sometimes things go from bad to worse and there are BIG stakes involved such as the division of a business or a home, or issues related to minor children.

Here are some practical tips (I'm not saying they are easy, just practical!) to help de-escalate a conflict that is threatening to get out of hand.

  1. Try to look at the big picture.   In the heat of battle, EVERYTHING feels important. But, how important is this one issue?   If you can let it go or back off, consider doing so.
  2. Pick your battles.   If you have to battle, make sure it is over something important enough to spend your energy on.  You may have the misfortune of having to deal with someone that makes everything a major battle. If so, you are going to have to stand your ground but just make sure it is on the important stuff. 
  3. Try to see the other person's point of view (This is the hardest one!).  Think to yourself, "If I give the other person the benefit of the doubt, what might s/he be thinking and feeling?   What point is s/he really trying to make with all these fireworks?
  4. Stop and count to 10 slowly. This is something we tell our kids when they are small. Why?  Because it works. 
  5. Walk away or hang up the phone.   You don't always have to engage.  Leave the other person ranting without your participation and they will eventually run out of steam. 
  6. Get a second opinion & emotional support.   Not sure if you are being reasonable?  Talk it out with a trusted friend. Ask the friend to be honest and to feel free to help you see if you are missing something. You can also talk with a therapist or religious leader.
  7. Take the High Road. Disrespecting the other person is like throwing fuel on a fire.  Watch your language, attitude and facial expressions.  Be determined to act with respect towards the other person, even if you believe they don't deserve it. 
  8. Get legal support.  If you think this is headed for a legal showdown, have a legal consult so that you know what to expect.  This is especially important in three situations: a:) business partnership b) family law situation c) neighbor dispute.  These three things hit you where you live, literally.  
  9. Get someone to mediate the dispute.   Mediation can involve a court-sanctioned process or a more informal process or can simply involve two people who agree to have a third, impartial party help them work things out.  
  10. Protect Yourself. It is very common to feel that you have to fight harder and longer if you are afraid and feel cornered. If you take precautions to protect yourself and your rights you will have an easier time feeling that you are coming from a position of strength and won't waste energy worrying about being ambushed.  (always take precautions for your personal safety and the safety of your family & pets). 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible!