Category Archives: Uncategorized

Business Formation Attorney – How to Choose?

How to Choose the Best Business Formation Lawyer for Your Needs

It is important to work with a lawyer who is knowledgeable of the formation process of your company. The more experienced they are, the better your chances are that your business will be created in a way that has best protection of assets and reduced risks.

Choosing the right business formation lawyer is an important decision for any business owner. It can be difficult to know which law firm to choose because there are so many options available. That’s why it’s important to do your research before settling on one, so you know if they have the experience you need and if they’re qualified.

A Brief Guide to Choosing the Best Business Formation Lawyer

Your choice of a business formation lawyer is important. Make sure the lawyer does formations regularly. Lawyers are like doctors. You would not necessarily want a litigator to form your business any more than you would have your heart doctor do brain surgery or deliver a baby. A business formation lawyer who has litigation experience is important as many business lawyers have never had to deal with problems that are exposed in litigation.

Let’s talk about your situation, just give us a call at 210-690-3700.

Why Start a Business?

Starting a business is no easy task. Businesses are hard enough to run, but the risks of starting your own business are even higher.

The main reason for starting your own business is that you want to be in control of your life and not answer to someone else.

Some people start their own businesses so they can create more jobs in their communities, while others do it so they can live out their passion and work on something they care about.

Starting a business means taking care of all the responsibilities, which can include accounting, taxes, marketing strategies and more.

What is the Process for Starting a New Business?

Starting a new business is always an exciting endeavor. The process of starting a business can be very complicated and involved, but with the right guidance it can be done with ease.

This article will outline the basic steps to start a new business for you to read and understand.

Start by determining what type of business you would like to start. This step will help determine the next steps in your business formation process.

The next step is to file articles of incorporation with your state’s Secretary of State’s office or Division of Corporations. Ensure that you have all the necessary information for this step, including shareholders, company name, address, etc.

After filing articles of incorporation, you’ll need to obtain licenses and permits that are required by law for your particular type of industry or profession – these vary from state to state.

You also need to start with the end in mind. How will you get out of the business? What if you and your co-owners don’t want to play together anymore? A well crafted buy sell agreement can be crucial and avoid costly litigation in the future.

The In’s and Out’s of the Professional Corporation – What You Need to Know

This article is about the ins and outs of how to set up a company as a professional corporation.

A professional corporation (PC) is a company that limits its liability to its shareholders. This lets the company’s shareholders have limited responsibility for the company’s actions and debts. They can do this by buying shares of the company, which are meant for sale to people who qualify as professionals in a particular field or profession.

The advantages of a PC include: 1) protection from unlimited liability, 2) ease of transferability of ownership interests, 3) continuity in management, 4) continuity in operations, 5) continuity in business location, 6) professional associations with other professionals and 7) possible tax benefits.

Let’s talk about your situation, just give us a call at 210-690-3700.

What is an LLC and How Can It Help Your Business?

An LLC is a business structure that can offer a level of liability protection and tax benefits to its owners. The LLC may also be structured as a C-corporation, S-corporation, or partnership.

The liability protection in an LLC might include how the members are not personally liable for the company’s debts and obligations.

In general, when you form an LLC, you need to file paperwork with your state’s Secretary of State’s office and pay a few hundred dollars to cover filing fees.

What is a General Partnership and How Does it Compare to an S-Corporation or Limited Liability Company?

A general partnership is a legal form that is made up of at least two people. Partners share the same duties and liabilities for business. If a partner mismanages an asset, they are liable for it if another partner agrees to cover the debt.

An S-corporation is a type of corporation that limits its liability to shareholders. Shareholders have limited liability if their company fails financially, so they don’t have to worry about being sued personally by investors or lenders as long as it’s an S-corporation.

A limited liability company (LLC) offers the benefits of both corporations and partnerships, but with less formal structure than corporations.

How to Choose the Best Business Formation Lawyer for Your Needs

It is important to work with a lawyer who is knowledgeable of the formation process of your company. The more experienced they are, the better your chances are that your business will be created in a way that has best protection of assets and reduced risks.

Choosing the right business formation lawyer is an important decision for any business owner. It can be difficult to know which law firm to choose because there are so many options available. That’s why it’s important to do your research before settling on one, so you know if they have the experience you need and if they’re qualified.

Conclusion: A Brief Guide to Choosing the Best Business Formation Lawyer

Your choice of a business formation lawyer is important. Make sure the lawyer does formations regularly. Lawyers are like doctors. You would not necessarily want a litigator to form your business any more than your would have your heart doctor do brain surgery or deliver a baby. A business formation lawyer who has litigation experience is important as many business lawyers have never had to deal with problems that are exposed in litigation.

Let’s talk about your situation, just give us a call at 210-690-3700.

Business Tort Lawyer

The Complete Guide to Business Tort Lawyers and How They Can Ensure Your Business is Protected

The Importance of Hiring a Business Torts Lawyer

A business tort lawyer is an attorney that specializes in business litigation. They may also provide expert advice on important matters like commercial contracts, franchising agreements, and trademark protections.

The best way to protect your business is by making sure it has the proper insurance coverage. A good business insurance lawyer will not only help you purchase the right kind of coverage for your company but also know how to deal with claims should they arise.

What are the Different Types of Business Torts?

Torts are a form of civil wrong that can cause injury to any person. In this lesson, we will be going over the different types of torts in Texas.

In general, there are two types of torts: intentional and negligent. However, in Texas, there are a few more specific ones that you may encounter in a small business or a professional context.

There are many types of torts that can be committed against a small business. These torts include but are not limited to:

1) Negligence: This is when one person or entity fails to exercise the degree of care that an ordinary person would in the same situation. This may range anywhere from not exercising due caution when entering an intersection, to not exercising proper care when assembling a product, or even keeping proper maintenance of public property.

2) Negligent misrepresentation. When somebody makes a statement about something without having full knowledge about it and it causes harm to someone.

3) Interference with contractual relations which is when somebody intentionally interferes with an agreement between two other parties for their own benefit even though they did not sign the contract themselves or they did not have any stake in the agreement at all.

Who is Likely to be Sued by a Plaintiff?

The plaintiff is likely to be someone who has been harmed in some way by the defendant, such as a person who has been injured by the negligence of the defendant.

Some of the most common plaintiffs are:

– Victims of car crashes or other vehicle accidents;

– A passenger in a vehicle who was injured when the driver negligently lost control;

– A person injured at work due to an employer’s negligence.

What are the Steps I Should Take if I am Being Sued?

If you are being sued, or think that you might be sued, there are some steps you should take and considerations and questions to ask yourself.

Some of the first steps to take if you think that a lawsuit is forthcoming include:

– Consider whether your conduct was willful

– Consider whether your conduct was negligent

– Consider which party’s interests will be best served by a lawsuit or settlement negotiations

– Consider whether there is a potential for punitive damages

Conclusion: Hire a Business Tort Lawyer Today to Ensure Your Business is Protected Tomorrow

Call us today at 210-690-3700 to discuss your situation.

The reason a professional such as a lawyer or doctor would incorporate his/her business is:

The reason a professional such as a lawyer or doctor would incorporate his/her business is

(1) To safeguard his or her assets from unlimited responsibility, a professional such as a lawyer or doctor might incorporate his or her business.

(2) to ensure that, in the event of a hostile takeover, another professional firm would not take control and make decisions.

(3) to limit his or her obligation for other assets.

(4) to be in compliance with the law, as insurance companies need corporations.

What is the meaning of limited liability?

You risk what you put in, is the greatest approach to explain limited liability. In other words, limited liability ensures that a person conducting business does not put his or her personal belongings at danger if the business fails. Any investor, partner, or member of the firm who has limited responsibility under the law cannot be held liable for any unfulfilled company commitments or debts in excess of the amount invested.

Jill and Jack are a couple.

Here’s a straightforward comparison. Jack and Jill are acquaintances. Jill is a fantastic cook, and Jack is a handyman. Both decide to create their own firm in order to profit from their abilities. Renovations are Jack’s main source of income. He purchased his own equipment and used his own name to sell his services. Jack runs his business on his own.

Jill made the decision to create a bakery. Jill has formed a small corporation (an S-Corporation) called Jill’s Cakes, Inc. before entering into business. Jill put her funds into Jill’s Cakes, Inc. as a start-up capital, then purchased her baking equipment and rented her shop on behalf of her business. There are essentially no distinctions between the two ways of doing business as long as things go well for Jack and Jill.

When things go bad, though, the distinctions become apparent. Jack scrubbed the floor before leaving the apartment he had just painted one day, but he forgot to put up a sign. When the owner entered, he slipped on the wet floor and shattered his ankle. He has filed a lawsuit against Jack for medical bills and lost pay. Jill slipped a peanut into the wrong batch of batter, triggering a serious allergic reaction in one of her customers. That consumer has filed a lawsuit against her for medical expenses as well as pain and suffering.

What is the danger to Jack and Jill? Jack is putting everything he owns on the line, including his job equipment, truck, home, and personal items. Jack must sell everything he owns to satisfy the judgment as long as it exists. Jill is just putting her business assets on the line: her culinary equipment, cash reserves, and whatever else Jill’s Cakes, Inc. owns. Her personal belongings, such as her car and residence, are, nevertheless, secure. Her company may go bankrupt, but her life will not be devastated (totally).

This anecdote, of course, depicts the worst-case situation. Many firms thrive without encountering many problems. However, many businesses fail, and it is so simple for a business owner to benefit from limited liability that everyone should.

Keeping Liability to a Minimum

Several forms of company structures provide limited liability protection to their owners. Corporations and limited liability companies are the most common (LLC). Each of these entities has its own set of benefits and downsides, but they both provide limited liability protection to their owners.

In the context of limited liability, there are a few points to keep in mind. To begin, a business must be well-maintained in order to provide the full liability protection that it was created to provide. In other words, if a corporation is simply a shell, but is conducted as if it is one and the same as the person running it, the courts will regard it as a sham, and the owners will be denied limited liability protection. Our article on Piercing the Corporate Veil has more information on this subject.

Second, even with a limited-liability company, an owner may be liable for more than his or her initial investment. When an owner has personally co-signed a loan agreement, this is the case (such as a credit card application). This signature provides the lenders with a personal guarantee of debt repayment, allowing them to pursue the owner’s personal assets in the event of failure. If final repayment is beyond the resources of the business, other owners (or investors) are not accountable, but the owner who co-signed would be responsible for that amount.

Is it possible for everyone to run a limited liability company?

No, in some occupations, the benefit of restricted liability is impossible to obtain. Law and ethics hinder professionals such as lawyers, doctors, accountants, chiropractors, engineers, and architects from minimizing their liabilities. We want these professionals to take personal responsibility for their decisions, so they make them thoughtfully every time. The final line is that, if at all possible, anyone doing business should consider forming a limited liability company. Consider it a safety net in case the worst happens.

The reason a professional such as a lawyer or doctor would incorporate his/her business is

The reason a professional such as a lawyer or doctor would incorporate his/her business is
Should I incorporate my practice?

The reason a professional such as a lawyer or doctor would incorporate his/her business is

(1) To safeguard his or her assets from unlimited responsibility, a professional such as a lawyer or doctor might incorporate his or her business.

(2) to ensure that, in the event of a hostile takeover, another professional firm would not take control and make decisions.

(3) to limit his or her obligation for other assets.

(4) to be in compliance with the law, as insurance companies need corporations for billing.

Many physicians who work as independent contractors are debating whether or not to incorporate. Physicians are shielded from some sorts of liability and may be able to lower taxes on business profits by incorporating their practice as a distinct business entity.

Some physicians appear to overestimate the benefits of incorporation without taking into account the cost and time involved in the process. Before incurring the additional cost and complexity of incorporating, a doctor should assess a number of legal, financial, and practical issues. We’ll go over the two largest possible advantages of incorporation: lower liability and tax advantages, to assist you decide which company organization is best for your firm.

Know how to shield yourself from liability.

One of the main reasons physicians prefer to incorporate is to reduce their liability. Doctors can assist protect their personal assets from responsibility in a professional lawsuit by switching from a partnership or single proprietorship to a corporation. However, incorporation only reduces some sorts of liability, so it’s crucial to know what’s covered and what’s not.

Pros: In the event of a lawsuit or unpaid debt, LLCs and other corporate structures (e.g., Professional Corporations, Professional Limited Liability Companies) can operate as a barrier between a physician’s personal and professional assets. If an LLC owes money to a vendor, creditors cannot seize an LLC member’s personal assets. In contrast, if a company member or shareholder is sued for hitting and injuring a pedestrian by accident, the plaintiff will not be entitled to seek damages from the medical practice’s assets.

A doctor who is a sole owner or a partner in a medical partnership, on the other hand, is personally liable for an unincorporated practice’s obligations and liabilities. This arrangement exposes physicians to significant professional and personal risk. Partners in a general medical partnership may be held personally accountable for one another’s medical negligence. Physicians who incorporate are protected not just from the business entity’s liability, but also from liabilities arising from the activities of other physicians in the practice. As a result, combining a practice with many physicians is strongly recommended.

Cons: While incorporation can give essential protection from certain sorts of claims, it does not provide any protection against malpractice responsibility for a physician. Malpractice insurance is the only way to protect yourself from professional malpractice lawsuits.

Furthermore, professional corporations may be held liable in the event of an accident or injury on company property or while driving corporate vehicles. However, only the corporate entity’s assets are exposed in such instances, not the personal assets of members or shareholders. Only high liability limits on business, auto, and property insurance can financially protect your company in the event of such accidents, injuries, or other claims. You can also create separate LLCs for rental properties and other assets (such as equipment) with significant liability exposure, separating them from the running side of your business/practice and providing additional protection to the operating entity. However, adding these assets will add to the complexity and cost of the process.

The bottom line: Physician liability is reduced to some extent by incorporation. Other types of insurance, such as malpractice, business liability, property, and auto insurance, cannot be replaced by it. You must compare the time, expense, and effort of incorporation against the value of reduced liability if you are considering it.

Consider your tax advantages.

Another advantage of forming a medical practice is the opportunity for preferential tax treatment. Incorporation, depending on the sort of business you choose and your financial goals for the practice, might result in significant tax savings. The specific tax benefits of incorporation, on the other hand, varies greatly amongst organizations.

Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs)

A simple LLC allows physicians to form a separate corporate entity that distributes profits (and losses due to operational expenses, equipment and real estate depreciation, and other factors) to LLC members directly. The entity itself is not subject to taxation (although it will have to file an informational tax return.) As a result, your federal and state tax burden as a member of an LLC will be similar to that of a single owner.

You must classify your LLC as an S-Corporation in order to reap the tax benefits of getting compensated as a shareholder rather than just an LLC member. Note that certain states do not allow physicians to form LLCs and instead require them to form professional companies.

S-Corporations

You can choose to be taxed as an S-Corp if you have an LLC. S-Corps have the option of passing through profits in the form of dividends to company shareholders while still being a pass-through organization. As a result, doctors can divide their earnings between salaries and dividends. Dividends are taxed at lower, more favorable rates and are exempt from payroll taxes such as FICA, self-employment, and Social Security and Medicare taxes, resulting in a nearly 15% savings in taxation.

Given the considerable tax advantages of dividends, you may be thinking to yourself, “Couldn’t I just pay myself a pittance and then divert the remainder of the profits to be paid in lower-taxed dividends?” Because the IRS is fully aware of the temptation to utilize this method, S-Corps are frequently subjected to increased tax scrutiny. Payments from an S-Corp to a corporate officer must reflect “fair compensation” for services provided, according to tax law. If auditors feel your salaried income is too low, you could lose all of your incorporation tax benefits and end up in a nasty IRS battle.

As a result, while having an S-Corp allows you to split your income between pay and dividends, you may only be able to cut a small amount of your income. Otherwise, the IRS will see an abnormally low pay as a clear red flag. S-corps also have more stringent management and operation requirements than a standard LLC, such as corporate bylaws, shareholder meetings, and stock distribution rules. Physicians should weigh the costs and complexities of running an S-corp against the tax advantages of dividend income.

C-Corporations

If you’re thinking about starting a business, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of forming a C-corporation. C-Corporations, unlike LLCs and S-Corporations, are not pass-through organizations, and their profits are taxed at corporate rates.

For the most part, a C-corporation tax structure will benefit physicians only if they keep a significant portion of their profits in the practice. You can greatly minimize your taxes on earnings kept within the practice if you plan to keep a major amount of the income in the practice to save up for future needs or expansion. However, if you intend to distribute the majority of the practice earnings in the form of dividends to shareholder physicians, you will be taxed twice.

The Bottom Line: It’s crucial to remember that incorporating isn’t a one-stop shop for immediate tax benefits and liability protection. Forming an LLC protects you from operational liability as well as the misconduct of your fellow members, and certain LLC designs might provide tax advantages. Understanding the scope of these benefits might assist you in deciding whether or not to incorporate.

Physicians should factor in the costs of forming and running a corporation. Depending on the sort of corporation you form, the specific legal and accounting charges will vary. Each year, it might cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

Only you can decide if the advantages outweigh the downsides after weighing the benefits, costs, and workload of merging your medical practice. You may decide that the convenience of operating as a single proprietor is well worth the somewhat higher liability, depending on the scope of your profits or business ambitions. As the number of partners in your practice grows and your firm grows, you should consult an attorney and/or accountant to evaluate which type of corporation will provide you with the most legal and financial protection.

Another reason a professional such as a lawyer or doctor would incorporate his/her business is limited liability.

What is the meaning of limited liability?

You risk what you put in, is the greatest approach to explain limited liability. In other words, limited liability ensures that a person conducting business does not put his or her personal belongings at danger if the business fails. Any investor, partner, or member of the firm who has limited responsibility under the law cannot be held liable for any unfulfilled company commitments or debts in excess of the amount invested.

Jill and Jack are a couple.

Here’s a straightforward comparison. Jack and Jill are acquaintances. Jill is a fantastic cook, and Jack is a handyman. Both decide to create their own firm in order to profit from their abilities. Renovations are Jack’s main source of income. He purchased his own equipment and used his own name to sell his services. Jack runs his business on his own.

Jill made the decision to create a bakery. Jill has formed a small corporation (an S-Corporation) called Jill’s Cakes, Inc. before entering into business. Jill put her funds into Jill’s Cakes, Inc. as a start-up capital, then purchased her baking equipment and rented her shop on behalf of her business. There are essentially no distinctions between the two ways of doing business as long as things go well for Jack and Jill.

When things go bad, though, the distinctions become apparent. Jack scrubbed the floor before leaving the apartment he had just painted one day, but he forgot to put up a sign. When the owner entered, he slipped on the wet floor and shattered his ankle. He has filed a lawsuit against Jack for medical bills and lost pay. Jill slipped a peanut into the wrong batch of batter, triggering a serious allergic reaction in one of her customers. That consumer has filed a lawsuit against her for medical expenses as well as pain and suffering.

What is the danger to Jack and Jill? Jack is putting everything he owns on the line, including his job equipment, truck, home, and personal items. Jack must sell everything he owns to satisfy the judgment as long as it exists. Jill is just putting her business assets on the line: her culinary equipment, cash reserves, and whatever else Jill’s Cakes, Inc. owns. Her personal belongings, such as her car and residence, are, nevertheless, secure. Her company may go bankrupt, but her life will not be devastated (totally).

This anecdote, of course, depicts the worst-case situation. Many firms thrive without encountering many problems. However, many businesses fail, and it is so simple for a business owner to benefit from limited liability that everyone should.

Keeping Liability to a Minimum

Several forms of company structures provide limited liability protection to their owners. Corporations and limited liability companies are the most common (LLC). Each of these entities has its own set of benefits and downsides, but they both provide limited liability protection to their owners.

In the context of limited liability, there are a few points to keep in mind. To begin, a business must be well-maintained in order to provide the full liability protection that it was created to provide. In other words, if a corporation is simply a shell, but is conducted as if it is one and the same as the person running it, the courts will regard it as a sham, and the owners will be denied limited liability protection.

Second, even with a limited-liability company, an owner may be liable for more than his or her initial investment. When an owner has personally co-signed a loan agreement, this is the case (such as a credit card application). This signature provides the lenders with a personal guarantee of debt repayment, allowing them to pursue the owner’s personal assets in the event of failure. If final repayment is beyond the resources of the business, other owners (or investors) are not accountable, but the owner who co-signed would be responsible for that amount.

Is it possible for everyone to run a limited liability company?

No, in some occupations, the benefit of restricted liability is impossible to obtain. Law and ethics hinder professionals such as lawyers, doctors, accountants, chiropractors, engineers, and architects from minimizing their liabilities. We want these professionals to take personal responsibility for their decisions, so they make them thoughtfully every time.

The final line is that, if at all possible, anyone doing business should consider forming a limited liability company. Consider it a safety net in case the worst happens.

Digital estate planning for today’s world

As the internet of things has arrived, you have assets that are digital which, while covered by normal estate planning, may require more instructions.

Have you thought about?

  • What are your digital assets?
    • domain names
    • hosting
    • phone numbers
    • online stored photos and videos
    • email accounts
    • social media accounts
    • bank and investment accounts
  • What will be necessary to access and control these digital assets?
  • Who will have a list of accounts, usernames, and passwords if you are physically or mentally unable to access them yourself?
  • Who will be able to access your data backups on your computer or in the cloud?
  • Do your present legal documents provide the proper consent to be able to access your digital assets?

Most people have some type of planning to pass on physical assets: jewelry, furniture, guns, and other valuables.  It could be a written memorandum or even sticky notes (like my mother used).

But what about the 1,587 family photos that are stored in Google, Dropbox or Apple iCloud storage?  Will they be lost forever or will someone be able to access them on your phone or computer?

Who will be able to access your Facebook, Instagram or other social media?  What about photos or videos that may be stored there?  Will they be gone forever?

What about your business digital assets?  Websites, domains, hosting accounts, software access and other digital things?

Where are your financial records stored?  Phones, computers, the cloud, and websites like banking or financial transactions like Fidelity are all commonly used to transact personal and business transactions.

Here are some you might not have considered:

  • Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Ethereum Classic, Bitcoin SV., etc.
  • Quicken, Quickbooks or other financial programs
  • Domain names for websites through GoDaddy, Namecheap or other service
  • Web hosting through GoDaddy, Bluehost or other service
  • YouTube channels or other online video hosting
  • Google accounts
  • Online gaming
  • Online betting accounts
  • Blogs or other online content hosting
  • Normal bank accounts

In today’s world, there are YouTube channels that have been monetized through advertising or affiliate marketing that can generate thousands of dollars in monthly income.  Without proper authorization, those assets could be completely lost!

What is proper authorization?

When you logged into an online account last, what did you have to do to get access?

  • Username
  • Password
  • Solve a captcha?
  • Receive a text code on a mobile phone?
  • Answer a security question or several?

If you went on an errand and were in an accident and died, would your family be able to gain access to those digital assets?

So how do you preserve authorization and access through your estate plan?

What will be needed to provide access?

  1. Record the proper information. 

What are your accounts?  Create a list so that your family will know what digital assets you have and how they can get access.

Usernames

Passwords

Security questions

What mobile number is attached

How do you protect the list so that it cannot be used improperly?

A physical record can be kept in a safe place like a safety deposit box or lock storage (also fireproof), just like you keep your original will, passports, etc.

Secure online storage is also available.  I always suggest using a name for it that does not indicate what it is.  In other words, don’t use anything that indicates or say “Passwords”.   Try something like Pet names, Recipes or something that is not quite so interesting to a searcher. 

Check into online secure storage.  Roboform, 1Password, and Dashlane are highly rated.

  1. Do you really own the asset? Even though you “bought it”, software programs may only be a license to use the program and it may not be transferable.  If you used a media company to create a website and pay a monthly fee, you may discover that the media company has complete control and ownership.  If you don’t continue to pay the monthly fee, it’s gone!

Website source code can be copied and the site can be cloned but you can’t do that once it is gone!

  1. Cloud storage backups.   You may have data backed up in the cloud,  but is it also backed up on a “hard drive” that is not on the cloud.  You may also choose to have an additional online backup.  It is also a good idea to scan very important documents.  Bank statements are only stored in your bank online account to be accessible for a year.  You may need them for tax purposes when they are no longer available.  Scans of birth certificates, passports, licenses, and other important documents is a great idea.  Remember though that your original will must be retained.   It is difficult to probate a copy of a will. 

When backing up thing, remember that “belt and suspenders” overkill is appropriate.  Multiple backups are recommended but make sure that you stay secure.

  1. Do your estate planning documents provide proper authorization?  Take the time to review your documents.  Blanket authorizations may not suffice.  Make sure that you have a HIPAA release for medical information.  Make sure that your fiduciaries can have access to and reset or recover your passwords and user names.

Review your estate plan at least once a year.  Make sure your lists are kept updated.  The laws regarding digital assets are constantly changing to keep us with the rapid changes.

If you have not had your annual review, please call us today to follow up, 210-690-3700 or schedule on the calendar, www.scheduleonce.com/JamesMontgomery .  We have a checklist that we used in the review but it is important to have the personal review, even by Zoom, to keep things current and make sure what the facts are for the situations.

Estate Planning and Probate Attorney

Estate Planning and Probate Attorney
James Montgomery

Estate Planning Attorney

An estate planning lawyer can provide you with a sense of security and protection by helping you design an estate plan that fits your needs and goals.  Most people think that an estate plan only applies when you die to specify who gets your “stuff”.  Estates don’t have to be “big” with lots of money and assets to have the proper estate planning.  An estate lawyer though can go through a checklist with you to plan for retirement, the potential of disability during your life, the protection of your children in the event you and your spouse are in an accident, as well as planning for what happens when you die.

You may search for an “estate lawyer near me” or “estate planning attorney near me” or “estate attorney near me” but in today’s world that attorney does not have to be in the same town as you are located.  It is best to have someone who is in the same state where you reside as laws affecting estate plans and probate differ from state to state.  The state where your property is located is the proper place to do a probate if one is necessary.

What is involved in working with an estate planning attorney?  Your estate planning lawyer will have a questionnaire that will guide you through the various decisions that you can make.  Often, going through a checklist will simplify your plan and make sure that you have not missed important documents and options that you have to choose.

You can download our checklist with no obligation Just click here. You can call 210-690-3700 to schedule a time to get to know each other.  You can also use our online calendar, www.scheduleonce.com/JamesMontgomery

While many people prefer a face to face meeting, most people have found in today’s world that video conferencing and telephone along with email have streamlined the process of doing an estate plan.  Documents can be quickly reviewed with email.  Final documents can be produced and signed without having to go to the estate planning attorney’s office.  Signatures still in most states need to be done in front of witnesses and a notary public.  But the signers only have to be in the presence of the notary public normally.

What types of documents should you have as part of your estate plan?

In Texas, where I am located, probate is simple.  I refer to it as the 15 minute probate state as the only court appearance in front of a judge takes 15 minutes although you may wait an hour for the hearing.  In short, you don’t need to avoid probate in Texas.  In states like California, Michigan, New York and Florida, where probate is difficult, lengthy and expensive, a living trust or intervivos trust is recommended because trusts don’t die. 

In Texas, you don’t need a trust to avoid probate.  A trust lawyer might advise you to use a living trust for other reasons.  A living trust attorney can craft a trust for a special needs situation where because of disabilities, an individual cannot or will not be able in the future to manage finances.  A special needs trust can protect assets if a person needs to utilize Medicare or Medicaid benefits but does not want to use personal assets before being able to access those programs or wants to avoid reimbursement claims from the government programs.  If you have questions about whether a trust should be used, consult with a trust attorney like me near where you are located.  If you are going with a living trust, make sure you have an experienced living trust attorney who does those trusts fairly frequently and best has some litigation experience involving trusts.

So if your estate planning attorney does not recommend a living trust, what documents and review should you do?  Estate planning should include a complete review of your situation:  your assets and liabilities, retirement goals, business ownership(s), cash flows, family situation, education plans, life insurance policies and potential needs, and what should happen to all of your property if you should become disabled or die.  Do you have buy sell agreements involving your business and how are they funded?  A will lawyer will have an extensive questionnaire and checklist to guide those conversations which might also involve your CPA or tax preparer.

Will Attorney

What documents do you need if you are using a will as the basis for your planning:

  1.  Will
  2. Financial power of attorney (Statutory Power of Attorney)
  3. Medical power of attorney (Durable Power of Attorney)
  4. HIPAA Release
  5. Directive to Physicians (Living Will)
  6. Beneficiary Designation for bank accounts and life insurance

You can find will attorney by searching “will attorney near me” on google.  Of course, you are already on the page of a will attorney so you need look no further.

You can call 210-690-3700 to schedule a time to get to know each other.  You can also use our online calendar, www.scheduleonce.com/JamesMontgomery

If you have questions about the documents above, I have prepared a series of lessons that will educate you on each of the documents.  Although I strongly recommend against it, you may wonder how to make a will without a lawyer.  One of the lessons covers how to do make a will without a lawyer and the pitfalls that await the non-lawyer doing his or her own legal work.

Two of the most important documents are the financial power of attorney and the medical power of attorney.  Perhaps worse than death, if that can be said, is the debilitating injury that disables one from being able to make decisions, a stroke or severe head injury or other situation that destroys ones capacity to make decisions.  If one knows that a medical condition like Alzheimers or other diseases will result in that status, then a living trust or special needs trust should be considered.  But one never knows when a serious injury or stroke might occur, having the powers of attorney in place can avoid the necessity of hiring a guardianship lawyer to file a guardianship.

A guardianship is a guardianship attorney’s dream.  Imagine having to file a motion and get a court order to handle the day to day affairs of a person.  The attorneys fees in a guardianship are large and ongoing.  Yet that situation is easily avoidable simply by having the durable power of attorney (medical) and the statutory power of attorney (financial) in place.  Those powers of attorney allow someone to stand in your shoes and make decisions for you without any court intervention.

Why a medical power of attorney?  We have all seen the medical shows on TV that talk about how in an emergency the next of kin can make decisions.  What people don’t realize is that decision making power like that is very limited.  If you need a blood transfusion or elective surgery, the hospital needs someone with full power to make decisions.  Perhaps you don’t have any next of kin or they live in New York or the west coast and are unavailable.  Your girlfriend, boyfriend, or significant other is not your next of kin.  There is no need to take a risk, just get a medical power of attorney signed.

Likewise the financial power of attorney allows someone to make financial decisions, pay bills, and take other day to day actions that we all do without thinking about.  If you are the only person on your bank account, who will pay your bills if you are in a bad car accident and can’t function for months (or forever)?  What if you get sick with COVID or something and are in a medical induced coma?  There is no need to take a risk, just get a financial power of attorney signed.

What does getting an estate planning package cost?  Our firm does everything on a fixed fee basis, no hourly fees unless we agree on that in advance for special services.  Typically, a complete estate plan will run $2500.00 and includes not only the document preparation but also a financial overview and insurance overview.  That fee also includes annual review sessions for five years and a reduced fee for any changes that you want to make during the five years (five years from the date of signing).   We also provide options that you may choose for additional fees like a transfer on death deed, a children’s trust, minor child protection plan, and other specialize but desired options.

You can call 210-690-3700 to schedule a time to get to know each other.  You can also use our online calendar, www.scheduleonce.com/JamesMontgomery

Probate Attorney

So what happens when you die?  What do we do as your probate attorney?

The process for probate in Texas is to locate the original will (copies only in very limited situations can be used.  Then an application to probate the will is prepared and filed with the probate court where you live.  A search for a “probate lawyer near me” might be appropriate if you live a significant distance from San Antonio, Texas.  However in this hopefully post-pandemic world many of the hearings are now conducted by Zoom so probates can be handled all over Texas.

The process that I, as your probate lawyer, will guide you through will first be to gather the information about all of the assets and liabilities of the deceased’s estate.    What property was owned: real estate, personal property, bank accounts, insurance policies, intellectual property,  etc.  What did the deceased owe:  mortgages, loans, credit cards, debts, bills, etc.

Who are the heirs of the person who has died and how can they be contacted?

When the application to probate is filed, notice must be given to the heirs and beneficiaries.   Public notice is given by posting notice on the courthouse bulletin board.  Ten days later the Court will hold a hearing on the application and enter an order admitting the will to probate.  The executor has to attend and testify although many of the hearings are done online rather than in person due to current conditions.

The next steps with your probate lawyer are to inventory the estate.  We don’t file inventories at the courthouse anymore unless there is an issue and the judge insists.

Our firm will assist with making sure any assets are transferred and all funds in accounts properly collected and delivered to the designated beneficiaries.  Our goal is to make the process as painless as possible and with as little of your time as possible.

You can call 210-690-3700 to schedule a time to get to know each other.  You can also use our online calendar, www.scheduleonce.com/JamesMontgomery

Probate Lawyer

Probate Lawyer
James Montgomery – Probate Lawyer

Probate Lawyer

Call now to schedule an interview at 210-690-3700

Or click here to schedule a call

Texas is a 15 minute probate state. What is a probate lawyer? He or she is the lawyer who will advise you how simple the process is in Texas. You literally will appear before the probate judge for 15 minutes or less. In most counties, probates are scheduled at a particular time and you may have to wait 45 minutes or so for your time to appear.

How much does a probate lawyer cost? Depending on the complexity of the deceased’s estate, a few thousand dollars or more. The lawyer makes sure you have all the assets accounted for and properly transferred. The more you do in advance, the less is required at probate and the lower the cost. Probate is not expensive in Texas as it is in states like California, New York and Florida where you should have a living trust.

Would you like a complimentary will and estate planning checklist? Click here to get one.