If you are a resident of Texas and die without a will, your estate, including your property, will be divided according to Texas law, regardless of circumstances. Working with an attorney to plan your estate, which can include a will and one of more trusts, can provide the best way to ensure that your family is taken care of after your death or disability, and that your assets are distributed according to your desires.
Estate Planning is not something that you should attempt to do alone by using online forms. Estate planning using wills and trusts can be a difficult process.
Documents used in this process can include:
After death, the probate of the will or the administration of the deceased person’s estate is often required to distribute the decedent’s property in accordance with law. We advise and assist executors, trustees and personal representatives in gathering assets, accounting for estate expenses, the preparation and auditing of accounts, and the distribution of property to the heirs or beneficiaries of the decedent. We also represent heirs and devisees in litigation matters arising from wills, trusts, and the probate and administration of a decedent’s estate.
If someone you care for has not planned for their disability or incapacity through trusts or powers of attorney it may be necessary to appoint a guardian for the person or property of the person who is incapacitated. This means that a court-appointed guardian will handle the financial and personal affairs of a minor or incapacitated person to the extent that such supervision is required to protect the minor or incapacitated person.
We assist businesses, whether sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs or corporations, in all legal aspects of forming and operating their businesses. We offer a range of guidance involved in conducting business, including real estate, employment, contracts, sales and intellectual property law.
We represent plaintiffs or defendants in business litigation of all types.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs often do not consult with a business attorney before they begin business operations. As they grow, they often need the services of a business law practice to address contract, employment, and liability concerns.
We advise clients in many kinds of business transactions, such as asset purchases, transferring ownership of businesses, trademark licensing, sales agreements, equipment leases and other contracts, as well as managing personnel matters.
We represent both businesses and employees in litigation before various administrative agencies and in state and federal courts. We advise businesses and individuals on how to avoid missteps and solve workplace problems so as to hopefully avoid protracted litigation.
Employment litigation may arise out of contract disputes between employers and employees, state or federal anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws, or workplace torts. Although Texas is an “employment-at-will state”, there are many causes of action that arise out of the workplace in Texas. Depending on the conflict, there are different filing periods to preserve the claim, different forums where the claim must be presented (i.e. EEOC, U.S. Department of Labor, state court, federal court, city agencies, etc.), and different prerequisites to filing an action in state to federal court. Depending on the type of claim, different types of damages may be recoverable, such as back pay, front pay, liquidated, punitive damages, injunctive relief, etc. We represent both businesses and employees.
The following are unlawful reasons for refusing to hire, firing, demoting or otherwise treating an employee less favorably:
Or because the employee:
Texas is an employment-at-will state. This means that in the absence of a contractual agreement between an employer and an employee establishing a definite term of employment the relationship is presumed to be terminable at the will of either party without regard to the quality of performance of either party. Putting it another way the employer and the employee can choose to end the employment without breaking the law even if the other party is doing everything right. It is often said that an at-will employee can be fired for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all. However, an employer who fires an employee for an unlawful reason may be responsible for monetary damages and injunctive relief.
There are limited exceptions to at-will employment in Texas. First, parties can remove the at-will presumption by specifying a definite period of employment contractually. Written employment contracts specifying a definite period of employment are relatively rare in Texas. Where there is a written employment contract for a definite period, the employer and employee have a contractual right to the continuation of the employment for the specified period under the terms specified in the contract. If the employer or employee violate the terms of the contract, the party harmed by the violation can sue in court to seek enforcement of the contract or contractual damages.
Federal and state statutes have created exceptions prohibiting employers from discharging employees based on impermissible considerations such as the employee’s age, race, sex, religion, national origin, or disability, or in retaliation for filing certain claims against the employer. For example, it is unlawful in Texas to retaliate against an employee for exercising rights under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act.
Statutes prohibit certain types of employment discrimination and retaliation do not apply to all businesses. Most employment laws require a private employer to have a specified minimum number of employees before the law applies.
Most federal and state anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws require that the employee first file a complaint with an administrative agency and exhaust that administrative process before they have the right to sue the employer in state or federal court. Employees have a shortened time period to file their claims with the proper agency. Failure to file a claim in time, may result in the loss of the right to pursue the claim.
The law on harassment in the workplace is complicated. It is often difficult to know where the line is between boorish, but lawful banter, and illegal harassment. When there are physical assaults and explicit threats, it is clear that the conduct has crossed the line. Most established companies have some form of a policy or program to address workplace harassment. An employee who fails to complain of the harassment and follow the procedures set out for addressing workplace harassment in the company’s policy or program may subject themselves to a defense by the employer that he or she failed to take advantage of the company’s anti-harassment program. An employee who quits as a result of harassment may find that he or she cannot meet the relatively high burden to prove a constructive discharge, significantly diminishing the value of the claim so it is best to talk to an attorney before taking any action.
Antidiscrimination laws prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals in violation of these laws. It is also unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee for his or her filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws.
Workplace policies and anti-discrimination laws seek to encourage the reporting of workplace harassment and create protections for workers who report it. However, it is seldom a comfortable or easy decision for a worker to make a report. Fears and concerns about retaliation can be legitimate.
An experienced attorney can help you evaluate and negotiate a severance agreement. Many companies offer severance agreements to employees who are laid off or terminated without fault. These agreements are often long and filled with confusing legal language. The terms of these agreements can have significant consequences. An attorney can both explain the effect of the language in the severance agreement and in many cases negotiate better terms. Severance agreements are serious business and should not be entered without first seeking advice from an experienced attorney.
Whether you are an employer facing a difficult personnel problem or an employee who has been terminated or otherwise treated unlawfully, we can help you navigate the complexities of employment law.
We assist with internal corporate investigations and development of corporate compliance programs. We represent clients in complex civil litigation, including cases arising from federal fraud investigations under the Federal False Claims Act and qui tam whistleblower actions. We litigate cases involving healthcare fraud. We represent corporate and individual clients under investigation by the Department of Justice, various offices of United States Attorney and Inspectors General as well as various State Attorneys General. Clients include hospice and other healthcare providers both corporations and individuals