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Round Rock, TX Attorney Blog

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The “Anna Nicole Smith Case” Drags On


How bad do you think a probate case has to get before the judge says, “I beg you to recuse me. I don't want to deal with you people anymore.”? The answer is pretty bad.

Texas Probate Judge Mike Wood has been presiding over the lawsuit filed when Anna Nicole Smith’s husband, J. Howard Marshall II died in 1995 for decades, but he has now thrown up his hands a removed himself from the case.


Read more . . .


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Veterans Deserve Better


According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are 1.6 million veterans living in Texas. Yet only a fraction of these vets are getting all of the benefits they deserve.


Read more . . .


Monday, January 23, 2017

A Look At Sam Houston’s Will


Sam Houston is one our state’s most beloved patriarchs. As the inscription on his tomb suggests, he was:

A Brave Soldier. A Fearless Statesman.

A Great Orator—A Pure Patriot.

A Faithful Friend, A Loyal Citizen.


Read more . . .


Monday, January 16, 2017

Guard Yourself Against Scam Artists


At least once a week, and oftentimes more frequently, I get a call on my cell phone from someone claiming I have won a cruise. While sailing to the Bahamas sounds appealing this time of year, I know this call is from a scam artist trying to get me to buy something or steal my credit card information, so I just hang up. The pre-recorded message (complete with seagulls crying in the background) and the fact that I have no reason to anticipate someone would offer me a free cruise, are clear indicators that there is something fishy about these calls. Unfortunately, it is not always so easy to spot a scam.


Read more . . .


Friday, December 30, 2016

Ryan Statute The First Sign Of Foundation’s Move


Exciting things are happening in Round Rock. Baseball great Nolan Ryan is moving the headquarters of his foundation here, which is going to be a great boon for our community, and a wonderful example of the good work that can be done through a family foundation.

Moving to Round Rock

Last month Nolan Ryan and his son Reece Ryan unveiled a statute of the famed pitcher outside of Dell Diamond, the home of the Texas Rangers’ AAA affiliate the Round Rock Express. The baseball team is just one of many businesses the Ryan family has developed in the area, and many Ryan family members live here, so it makes sense that they would move the foundation’s headquarters here from Ryan’s hometown of Alvin.

Community development is actually one of the foundation’s focus areas, which also concentrates on supporting youth and education.
Read more . . .


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A New Year’s Resolution That Does Not Require Calorie-Counting


A New Year’s Resolution That Does Not Require Calorie-Counting

Are you planning on setting a New Year’s resolution? If so, you are in good company. 45% of all Americans usually make New Year's resolutions, and 17% infrequently do so. This sounds pretty good until you consider only 8% of people keep their resolutions. Probably because most of them require extreme behavior modification, and, horror of horrors, calorie-counting! Why not set a resolution for 2017 that is easy to accomplish and calorie-counting free? Read more . . .


Monday, December 26, 2016

Turning Over the Keys: Helping older drivers make the tough decision

We all want to be in control, to go where we want at our leisure.  As we age, however, our senses and reaction times begin to slow which can make getting behind the wheel increasingly hazardous. It is important to be realistic about the driving abilities of loved ones as they reach a certain stage and to prepare accordingly. Not only will it keep seniors safe, but planning ahead will help them financially as they make other arrangements for transportation.

The first step is to reduce the need to drive. Find ways to bring the things they need right to them, like ordering groceries online for delivery and encouraging in-home appointments. Suggest that they invite friends and family over for regular visits instead of going out. They may be surprised by how many things are possible from the comfort of their own home.

For the times your loved ones need to, or want to, venture elsewhere, look into other transportation options. Although there is usually no need to quit driving all at once, look to family, friends, taxis, and public transportation when you can, especially for longer trips. Use the money you’ve been saving, along with what would have been spent on gas, on alternate modes of transportation. Their town may even have designated senior transportation services. 

The time to start making this transition may be sooner than you or your loved ones think. Don’t wait until an accident leaves them with no alternative. It may be time to start talking about limiting driving if they report noticing subtle difficulties, like trouble reading traffic signs or delayed breaking. Keep an eye out for small dings in your loved one’s car or surrounding items, like the mailbox or garage door, along with slower response time or difficulty finding their way around familiar territory. Ask them to watch for these things as well.

Asking a loved one to turn over their keys can be tough but with an open dialogue, the right support system and reasonable alternatives in place to ensure that they can continue to live an active lifestyle, a smooth transition is feasible.  


Monday, December 19, 2016

Preventing Will Contests

So, you have a will, but is it valid?  A will can be contested for a multitude of reasons after it is presented to a probate court.  It is in your best interest to have an attorney draft the will to prevent any ambiguity in the provisions of the document that others could dispute later. 

A will may be targeted on grounds of fraud, mental incapacity, validity, duress, or undue influence.  These objections can draw out the probate process and make it very time consuming and expensive.  More importantly, an attorney can help ensure that your property is put into the right hands, rather than distributed to unfamiliar people or organizations that you did not intend to provide for. 

At the time you executed the will, you must have been mentally competent, or of “sound mind.”  A court will inquire as to whether you had full awareness of what you were doing.   There will also be an inquiry into your understanding and knowledge of the assets in your name.  If, at the moment you executed the will, you were pressured or influenced by another individual to sign the document, it may be invalidated. 

If the document was signed under duress or undue influence, the provisions are likely to be against your intentions or requests.  Moreover, if you are trying to nullify a will on your own behalf, you are likely to need an attorney because it is very difficult and complicated to demonstrate the existence of duress, fraud, or undue influence.   If drafting a new will, counsel can ensure that your document abides by all of the validity requirements, so the will’s provisions can successfully carry out your intentions after your death.

For example, the will creator or “testator,” is usually required to sign the document before several witnesses who are over the age of eighteen, during a certain period of time.  A will or a certain bequest to a person could be deemed void if the beneficiary was also a witness.   In your state, you may be able to execute a “self-proving affidavit,” which may do away with some of the requirements in order to establish a valid will.  The testator should also designate a person to execute the document.  Consult your attorney to ensure that your will comports with your state’s particular laws and is sustainable against any future contests.  

 


Monday, December 5, 2016

The Federal Trade Commission Act and its Affect on Advertising

The law forbids businesses from including baseless statements or assertions in their advertisements.  According to the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA), a business must ensure that their representations are not misleading or unfair, and the entity must have data that supports all claims.  Evidence may, for example, be substantiated based by surveys, expert testimony, or scientific studies and tests. 

A “deceptive” advertisement, as described in the FTC's "Deception Policy Statement" is one that suggests or omits a critical fact in an attempt to mislead customers. Similarly, an “unfair” advertisement is categorized as one using a deceptive practice that may result, or has resulted in, significant customer harm. Typically, the harm caused could not be avoided by the customer, and minimal benefit is experienced by any of the clientele engaging in the same practice.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is charged with investigating national ads to determine whether they are fraudulent. Local advertising, on the other hand, is usually the domain of agencies of the county, state, or city, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB). In both cases, certain criteria are used to evaluate the “words, phrases, and pictures” within the endorsement to identify potential deception. Deception is characterized as that which a “reasonable consumer” would falsely believe to be true.  All investigations are confidential until legal action is commenced or a claim is settled.   

There are several remedies available for deceptive claims, including the issuance of a cease and desist order.  Such an order prohibits a business from continuing to disseminate misleading or dishonest advertisements.  A cease and desist order is often combined with substantial fines or with a requirement that the offending company authenticate any and all future ads.  Other penalties may compel a business to notify its customers of the false ads, or to provide refunds for falsely advertised purchases.    

Unfair competition may also come into play in cases of deceptive advertising. Companies that feel they have been unfairly treated by competitors may have legal recourse. The National Advertising Division (NAD) is associated with the BBB, and an aggrieved party may file a cause of action against a competitor through NAD.  Depending on the specific circumstances, a business may have the legal authority to sue its rival for posting deceptive ads under the Lanham (Trademark) Act. Individuals who feel their businesses have been harmed by the false or deceptive advertising practices of a competitor may have remedies available to them. A reputable business attorney is in the best position to give advice about which course of action should be pursued.


Monday, November 28, 2016

It’s Time For End Of The Year Gifting


The countdown is on! The holidays and the end of the year are just around the corner. If you have not done so already, it is time to finish making any gifts and donations necessary to minimize your tax burden this year and at the time of your death.

Why Gift?

During the recent election it was revealed that president-elect Donald Trump had used very aggressive tactics in order to minimize his tax burden. Not all of us have millions of dollars in business loses that we are able to carry forward for years on end, but most of us do make charitable contributions throughout the year that can reduce our tax burden. By working with a tax professional now, you can figure out whether you are likely to owe taxes for the year, and if so, whether you can offset those taxes by making a charitable donation.


Read more . . .


Monday, November 28, 2016

Gun Trusts Allow Owners More Control, Easier Transfers


Earlier this year, an 1886 Winchester rifle became the most expensive gun ever sold when it was bought at auction by an anonymous bidder for $1.265 million. The gun was extremely desirable to collectors because of its storied history and low serial number.

Its original owner was U.S.


Read more . . .


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| Phone: 512-270-3807

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