Monday, August 29, 2016

I'm too Young to have a will.... aren't I?

Most people in their twenties do not consider getting a will to be high on their list of priorities.   That is understandable.  However, there are many reasons why you should consider having a will.  Here are the most important ones:

  • You have a child (whether the child lives with you or not)
  • You have any assets (even a bank account, car, or personal items)
  • You have debts and they could be negotiated (naming an "Executor" in your will means that this person may get court authority to negotiate with creditors and preserve assets for family)
  • You want someone other than your family to inherit from you (Been living with your significant other for years with no "legal" status to your relationship? He or she may get nothing and have to fight your biological family for what you purchased together)
  • You don't want your money to go to the state's Unclaimed Property Division because no one has legal authority to get it.
  • Your situation may change (sure, you may have more debts than assets now, but what if that changes in a few years?)
  • You have rights in any part of a business or joint venture (even a side-business with assets and customers)
  • You've worked hard to get where you are and want to have the ability to make your wishes known. 
You may assume that if you were to die, that your assets would automatically go to certain people. But, it may not be that easy. Having a will allows a judge to appoint your Executor to gather the assets and debts.  There is a court order and the banks and creditors have to respect and follow it, which means that they need to release information and funds when properly requested to do so. 

If you have debts, and debts > assets, it is true that your loved ones may decide not to probate your will, and may just let things alone. But, not always.  

A consultation with a wills attorney can give you the information that you need to decide how to deal with your own particular situation. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
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READ THIS- Before you Co-sign that Loan or Lease!

Someone that you care about has asked you to co-sign for him.   He assures you that he has the ability to pay for that car, that home, or that lease. You know that he is currently working, and you trust him. Should you do it?

That depends.  Here are the things that you need to think about before you decide:

  1. If he stops making his payments for whatever reason (illness, job layoff, personal problems, injury, or irresponsibility), the creditor is going to come to YOU to make the monthly payment. If you co-sign a lease and there is a default, you can be sued if you don't pay through to the end of the lease term. 
  2. If you have to, can you afford to make his monthly payment and still meet all of your other responsibilities on time? If so, for how long? 
  3. Can you afford to have this financial responsibility show up on your credit report? Will it make you appear "overextended"?  Will it keep you from getting a loan for something that you need in the future? 
  4. If the worst happens and he is unable to make his payments is the property sale-able? How long do you think it would take to sell it and will you be willing to tell your friend that he must give it up?  
  5. Have you thought through all the possible implications and considered anyone else in your life who could be significantly affected by this decision if things were to "go wrong" (your spouse, children, business partner)?
Co-signing a loan or lease is not something that should be taken lightly.  The unexpected does happen.   Be sure to go into the situation with your eyes wide open.

Also beware of any situation in which someone promises you something of value for co-signing the loan or promises you something "once they get the money".  This is a red flag. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

LEGAL 911--- WHEN should you Contact a Lawyer?

So, you have a legal problem... maybe.  But maybe you can handle it yourself. Or maybe it won't get too serious... or maybe it will go away.

How do you decide when to see an attorney?

Of course, the decision varies from person to person and case to case. But here are some situations that should cause you to seek help right away.

  1.  You have been served with a lawsuit.   If you have been served, don't wait around. You will need to answer that lawsuit by a certain day and time, in the proper way, or you could lose the case.  The WHEN and WHERE of how to answer it in State District Court, County Court, Justice Court (Small claims) , or Federal Court? How did you receive service?  In some cases, you can even be served by mail. 
  2. You have received an administrative complaint.  Whether it is local, state or federal government, administrative complaints still should not be ignored. (Examples; homeowner's association, IRS, Workforce Commission, your local city government, a professional regulatory board in your state.)
  3. You are aware of a serious pending issue that can affect your job or ability to make a living.  These are not lawsuits yet but can quickly get out of hand.  (Example, you get reputable information that you are being accused of some type of workplace misconduct; you get a letter that you are being unfairly ousted from a professional group that provides you with most of your clients; you find out that your employee is copying your confidential files and client lists and setting up her own business.)
  4. There is an immediate threat to an individual's health or safety, or a threat of property destruction.   This is something that is on the verge of becoming a full-out emergency.   At any time, it could go either way.  (Examples:  Your neighbor is flooding your property by mishandling his landscaping and water supply; child protective services is investigating your ex-spouse regarding the welfare of your child;  your child is visiting your ex-spouse across the state and you find out that she is being left alone without supervision; someone is threatening you with bodily harm). 
  5. You have been asked to sign important documents and you don't fully understand the documents or the situation.   If you don't understand it, don't sign it until you do.  This is especially important when it relates to long-term contracts, contracts for the purchase or sale of real estate, and any document that asks you to sign away your rights or commit to providing your money or time.  (Examples: Termination of your Parental Rights, Settlement for a sum of money in exchange for not pursing a legal claim, contract for purchase or sale of a business, signing of a severance package from your employer.)
Don't wait until it is too late.  Words that you do not want to hear your attorney say.... "I'm sorry. If you had only come to me sooner..." 

Civil Attorneys, Family Law, Business Law, Real Estate Law, Probate
"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.
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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Divorce Cases that Cross State Lines

Two people are about to divorce.   Where do they file the case? Well, that's easy, in the county where they both are living, right? 

Well, not always....

When two people are married, and living together and have been living there for awhile, yes, they do file in that county.   But some cases are not so clear.  

  1. He lives in one county, she lives in another. This has been going on for over 6 months. 
  2. He lives in one state, she lives in another. 
  3. The couple just moved from one state to another and have not established residency. 
  4. One or both spouses regularly live in two locations, and it is unclear which is the primary residence. 
  5. The divorce case was already filed, and is now on hold, in another county or state. Now they want to proceed.
  6. They live in two separate locations and each one files independently of the other. Which case proceeds to conclusion?
These cases are not as rare as you would think.  And, depending on the facts of the case, there may be more than one option on where to file the divorce. 

In the least complicated of the above cases, it may be just a matter of timing. Assuming that each of the two people filed and each of them chose a correct location, then it may just be a matter of who filed first.   Other cases require legal research, and possibly a court hearing to decide. In the most complicated cases, two judges from two different courts may need to speak with each other at length to make the legal determination. 

If you are in a complicated situation and are divorcing, or considering divorce, or your divorce was filed and is on "hold" somewhere other than where you now live, contact a family law attorney to help you understand what your options are and how to proceed.  

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.
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Monday, August 8, 2016

Texas Employers, Here are Some FREE Resources to Help you Run your Business!

The Texas Workforce Commission's Office of the Commissioner Representing Employers ("TWC") has an employer hotline to answer employer questions about basic legal issues related to hiring, work-separation, and other employment and post-employment issues.  The number is 800-832-9394.

There are also free resources available online.  Check out the publication, "Especially for Texas Employers" that is available. This manual contains tips, information about the law, policy and procedure, and forms for use by Texas Employers.  You can receive the print version by attending one of the seminars put on for Texas Employers in various locations around the state. There is a charge for attending the day-long seminar.

Would you like to have help understanding salary vs. hourly pay?  How about understanding how Unemployment claims work?   Would you like to know if the wages/salary that your company pays is competitive for your industry and geographic location? How about what to do if you are the subject of an audit?   What if someone files a workers compensation claim? All of this information and more is available from the TWC.

These important resources can help you create or define your company's procedures.  When your employees know exactly what is expected of them morale will be higher and goals can be met.

Having an employee who under performs is one of the most frustrating experiences that an employer can have.  Even worse is having an employee who flouts procedure and policy and dares you to discharge them. This can become a nightmare when it is interfering with customer satisfaction and the employer isn't sure of the best way to handle the situation.  The TWC's Commission Representing Employers is there to help.

If you currently have business issues or are confused, consider reviewing the information available. This information can help you understand the law.  Even if you have a business attorney helping you with a specific difficult situation it is always a good idea to improve your overall procedures and prevent future problems.

Kalish Law Office - The Woodlands, Texas 
"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.

Monday, August 1, 2016

If You No Longer Own it... Sign it Over

Here is a piece of legal advice for free that can save you a lot of money and hassles in the future. If you no longer own it, get it out of your name!

This applies to a home, other piece of real property, auto, boat, or anything else that is "titled" or "deeded" to an owner.

You may be tempted to think, "Let the new owner handle the transfer. It isn't my problem anymore." Whether you sold a car or "lost" your home in your divorce, there are some very important reasons why you should get your name off of the title (or deed) of something you no longer own.

  1. If someone gets hurt, you don't want liability. If someone gets hurt by a motor vehicle and the title is still in your name, or if a trespasser wanders on to a piece of real estate that is still deeded to you and breaks a leg you may find yourself getting served with a lawsuit for something you haven't really "owned" in years.  Sure, it isn't yours, but now you have to prove it. 
  2. It keeps the records straight.  When you own real property, a lot of record keeping goes with it, whether you realize it or not.   The county tax records, the county real estate records, your tax returns and your personal list of what you own and insure should all match reality.
  3. It keeps your credit report straight.  If you are trying to get a loan or mortgage, you don't want old, inaccurate information showing up.  When you are applying for a new loan or mortgage and are able to show evidence of what you really own (and don't own) you will have an easier job of it. 
  4. It keeps you from having to get involved in other people's business.  If  transfers aren't done your signature may be requested years later by new owners or potential owners before the vehicle or property can be sold.  In some cases, you may even be served with legal papers by a party trying to obtain a "clear" title. 
  5. It keeps you from getting in trouble with the divorce judge. If you have a final decree of divorce and are ordered to sign over property to your ex, do so.  Not doing so can subject you to a motion for enforcement, possible contempt findings and attorneys fees. 
If you don't own it, it isn't helping you.  So, don't let it be a potential source of liability to you. 

Once you sell a vehicle, you can file a sworn affidavit with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, to notify the DMV that you no longer own the vehicle (rather than relying on the new owner to do so).   If you need help with transferring real estate out of your name, you may need to contact a lawyer to help you draft and file the proper deeds. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.
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