Posted by Howard Kahn on Tuesday, July 3, 2018

 

 

Ambiguity

HAMLET DIED INTESTATE

(Intestate means to die without a will)

To Be or Not To Be

(That was Hamlet’s Question

But, is that the Question)

To will or not to will,

That is the real question.

To trust or to give,

These are the other questions.

Whether `tis nobler in the pocket

to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous taxes–

Or to take deductions against a sea

Of IRS auditors and by exclusion

End them. To trust, to gift–

And by a gift so doing,

To take pity upon our heirs.

Leaving everything for them in trust;

That flesh be heir to all:

To trust, perchance to give,

Aye, there’s the rub.

For by so giving:

The kids now have it all.

Yes, Hamlet had his troubles too!!

Did he leave a Will?

Did he leave anything in Trust?

Did he leave charitable Foundations

to perpetuate his name?

Don’t let what happened to Hamlet happen to you!

A Basic Estate Plan contains:

Last Will and Testament

Medical Directive

Durable Power of Attorney

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

Declaration of Guardianship for a Minor

 

Can You Collect Your Business Judgment?

Once a lawsuit has been filed, a judgment or a decision by the court ensues whether or not it was contested by the defendant or the debtor. As a plaintiff, you might be disenchanted to learn that Texas laws are extraordinarily favorable to individuals who find themselves as judgment debtors. As a debtor, you might be relieved, but not so fast. Generally speaking, a judgment debtor’s homestead and current wages are exempt from a most judgment creditors’ reach. The policy behind this is to provide families a refuge in times of financial stress and to prevent homelessness. Texas and Florida are the two most judgment debtor friendly states in America.

Attorneys have access to investigators, who, for a modest fee, can almost always find a judgment debtor’s bank account and the amount in it. While wage garnishment is a frequently mentioned remedy, in Texas it only applies to income taxes, student loans, child support and spousal support. A judgment against a business has no exemptions provided that business is not a sole proprietorship or an assumed name by an individual or group of individuals.

When dealing with a run-of-the-mill judgments, the debt is rarely worth the expense for garnishing bank accounts. The district or county clerks and constable fees total approximately $350 and the garnished bank will get an attorney fee of about $500. So, right off the bat you have to garnish at least $850.00 to make it worthwhile. On top of that, there is the attorney fee for preparation of the garnishment papers. However, with physicians and other high-net-worth judgment debtors it’s worth looking into.

Generally speaking, a home’s value reflects its owner’s net worth. If a judgment debtor has a home worth $400,000 or more, our experience is that they are worth taking a look at–as the property taxes are large and so are the mortgage payments. The best way I believe to collect on a Texas judgment against an individual is to find a second piece of real estate that is not a homestead, and attorneys have access to databases that can find such real estate in Texas as well as nationally.

Out of State Judgments: To enforce a judgment in Texas, by a Texas court, it has to be a Texas judgment. This process is called Domestication. Even a federal court judgment rendered in Texas must be domesticated into a Texas Judgment.

 

Domestication in Texas of an out-of-state judgment is swift and easy. An attorney will supply a certified and exemplified copy of your final judgment suitable for filing in Texas under Texas’s version of the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (A misnomer; the act only applies to U.S. states, not foreign countries).

Attorney’s fees can either be flat rate, hourly or contingent or some combination of a flat, hourly and contingent fee, depending on the circumstances of the judgment and the debtor. The district clerk’s fee is about $350 to file your “foreign” judgment in Texas. Your out-of-state judgment instantly becomes a Texas judgment the date it is filed with the district or county clerk, and generally speaking, the judgment debtor has only 30 days from the file date with the district or county clerk to contest the filing, which they rarely do. Why? Perhaps it’s a sign of guilt.

So, if it is so difficult to collect on a judgment against an individual, what is a judgment good for? It is my understanding that a mortgage lender will not loan money for a home purchase or refinance if the applicant has a subsisting judgment against them–not that the judgment attaches to the homestead, but that it makes the borrower substantially less creditworthy. It is also my understanding that banks frown on lending money to businessmen and entrepreneurs who have an outstanding judgment against them. A judgment can also affect a credit score, and under the right circumstances a judgment can attach to a homestead when the judgment debtor owner of the homestead dies and other limited circumstances.

Additionally, some judgment debtors simply want the peace of mind that comes from settling a judgment, often at a discount of 50% to 80%. Attorney’s clients can have hundreds of judgments against their debtors. Therefore, please keep in mind that it is not the attorney’s responsibility to ensure that the judgment’s life’s span is properly extended. It is the client’s responsibility. A Texas judgment is good for 10 years from the date of judgment, and to extend its life, a writ-of-execution should be delivered to a constable and its return be during the 10 year period.

The above is an extremely general discussion which can have numerous exceptions. If you feel that your business claim or judgment is worth pursuing, I just so happen to be happy to discuss it with you.

The distinguishing factor

It’s worth collecting when the debt is worth the expense and if the debtor can pay.

The lesson

It’s not worth the financial handicaps for judgment debtors so they should make arrangements to pay what’s due.

 

Specialization

Writ of Habeas Corpus

 

legal divorce paper documents with pen closeupWhether you are about to deal with a divorce or are in the midst of one, knowing how a family law lawyer can benefit you is very useful. Because Texas divorce law is different than other states, it’s important to know what to expect. Divorce lawyers can answer all your big questions and help guide you through a difficult process in the least painful way.

A knowledgeable attorney is not only your advocate, but can also provide support and lend an objective and empathetic ear. Whether your divorce is seemingly civil, or overwhelming and emotional, a skillful attorney will help give you the information you need to know how to react. They will see the situation more clearly and help you determine the best course of action when you are deciding what to do, especially if it affects your children.

A family lawyer can answer your questions such as how to fight for sole custody, which parent will provide child support, how to protect your assets and much more.

A few factors of Texas law that you may not be aware of include:

  • A child over 12 years old may seek a preference for parental custody
  • Alimony isn’t guaranteed
  • Texas is a fault or no-fault divorce state
  • Joint custody may not be equal

Divorce lawyers can give you expert advice from A to Z when you are going through a divorce. Details that a lawyer will help you sort through in a divorce include, but are not limited to:

  • Property division
  • Alimony
  • Child support
  • Child custody

To help avoid costly court fees, having a lawyer mediate a collaborative divorce is also an option. This involves negotiation between the spouse and resolving any issues without having to deal with the court.

If you have any concerns regarding family law or divorce, Lone Star Lawyers is a valuable resource. Whether you are interested in collaboration or need expert advice or legal representation, contact one of our skilled lawyers today.

CONTACT US

A family, with parents, children and grandparents, relaxing in a park

Brick House 12

Happy Couple Outside Their Home

When the topic of estate planning comes up, it’s one that is undeniably avoided. Why think about planning for something that you don’t have to worry about until later? Most people don’t want to think about the future and would rather live in the present. However, the reason it is important to figure out now rather than put it off, is the reassurance that your assets will be delegated to those whom you choose.

There are generally two types of people: the “planners” and the “fly by the seat of your pants” people. While some enjoy planning, others have more of a spontaneous nature and like to just see what happens. Estate planning probably has never even crossed their mind. But whether you believe it or not, estate planning is for everyone. No matter your age, or the amount of money you possess, you have assets in the form of your belongings, home, car, life insurance, etc. For those who like being in control, estate planning gives you the means to determine whom and when the people of your choice will receive your assets. Because there may be legal fees and court costs involved, having a knowledgeable attorney by your side will be an advantage to help guide you through the steps of ensuring your assets are delegated per your specific instruction with the least amount of taxes possible.

According to your living will, these instructions can be determined based on your situation and can always evolve over the course of your life if you wish to make changes. Your will can state your plans if you become disabled or after your passing. It can also:

  • Determine guardians for minor children
  • Determine who will manage your children’s inheritance
  • Determine when and whom will receive specific assets of your choice

If you don’t have an estate plan that is perfectly acceptable, just know that under probate law, the state will then dictate your affairs by controlling your assets if you become disabled or unable to make those decisions. If you decide to forgo estate planning, after you pass the state will then be allowed to make those decisions for you. This can become expensive and inconvenient for your family.

Essentially, thinking about the future with estate planning in mind proves to be beneficial as it will help provide you and your family the peace of mind that your assets will be carried out according to your wishes. Overall, it will save you time and money. Whether you are interested in a living will or general estate planning, Lone Star Lawyers would be pleased to answer any of your questions about how a skillful attorney can be of assistance to you.