Following the untimely death last year of his father Big Daddy Bux due to COVID-19, brother Hustler Bux was appointed independent executor of Big Daddy’s Will. When Hustler asked for a judicial discharge, sister Kathy “Kitten” – who had cared for both parents and still lived in the family home – objected complaining that Hustler failed to disclose important facts related to the estate. Kitten’s mistrust was intensified by altercations between them at the family home, and then confirmed by Hustler’s late inventory and accounting revealing his uneven distribution of Big Daddy’s $5 million estate. Without telling Kitten, Hustler (i) deeded the family home to Kitten and deducted his determination of its value from her share, (ii) deeded a ranch in Goliad to himself and their two brothers – but not her, (iii) reserved $150,000 of estate funds to cover his attorneys’ fees to defend any lawsuit. Kitten asked for explanations. Hustler refused. Even worse, Hustler intimated that, by just asking for the estate information, Kitten violated the will’s “no-contest” clause. Can Hustler refuse to tell Kitten about Big Daddy’s estate and his assets? What’s a “no-contest clause?” What is a judicial discharge? Continue Reading Can Executors Keep Secrets From Beneficiaries?
Left home alone by his inattentive parents and fearing the Wet Bandits, ten-year-old Kevin McAllister rigs his home with a series of booby traps to stop the would-be burglars. Among other measures, Kevin sprays the front steps with water, which quickly freezes, and uses an electric BBQ starter to turn his front doorknob molten hot. But Kevin’s best-lain plan quickly goes awry. Concerned about Kevin safety, Old Man Marley stops by and attempts to open the door. Recoiling in pain, he stumbles backward, slips on the steps, and falls in the snow. Old Man Marley is later diagnosed with a severe concussion and a full-thickness third-degree burn. Will Kevin be ensnared by Marley’s forthcoming lawsuit? Continue Reading The Law of Booby Traps in Texas for Those Left Home Alone
Cache Bux was riding high as the president of Nodding Donkey Oil Field Services which recently opened new offices in Peru. Nodding Donkey’s earnings were beyond its wildest projections. Cache would easily hit his annual employment agreement performance incentives – entitling him to a substantial year-end bonus. But Cache’s elation plummeted when he overheard two directors on Nodding Donkey’s board discussing a plan to fire him for “cause” to avoid paying his almost-certain bonus. Knowing there were no grounds for termination, Cache persuaded an IT consultant to scour the directors’ emails, which revealed multiple communications planning their scheme. Fearing the directors’ emails would be deleted, Cache gathered and saved them on a flash drive, along with the company’s financial reports, demonstrating that he satisfied all performance metrics. Cache hid the flash drive at home. Sure enough, the directors fired Cache for “cause” days before the annual bonus numbers were revealed. Cache hired a lawyer and turned over the emails and financial reports, thinking that he was well on the path to victory. He had saved key evidence, right? Or, did he? Continue Reading Should You Take Your Company’s Business Records to Support Your Lawsuit When You Leave?
The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Eviction Moratorium confirms President Reagan’s quip that a government program is the “nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” As explained in my prior post, the CDC issued an order in September 2020 “temporarily” halting residential evictions , reasoning that it was necessary to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). That moratorium was originally set to expire on December 31, 2020, but Congress extended it by one month. Before that congressional extension expired, the CDC—now acting under the Biden administration—twice extended the moratorium, with the latter extension due to expire on June 30, 2021.
After repeatedly stating that he lacked the authority to extend the Eviction Moratorium again, President Biden caved into pressure from progressive Democrats and did exactly that earlier this month. The President doubted that the new extension would pass “constitutional muster” but was hopeful that the legal challenges would provide more time to distribute congressional funds for rental assistance.
Like the prior versions, the latest version of the Eviction Moratorium generally prohibits the evictions of a residential tenant who expects to earn $99,000 or less in 2021 (or $198,000 if filing jointly) and signs a declaration stating that he or she has lost income, applied for government assistance, and would likely become homeless or forced to move into a more crowded living situation if he or she was evicted. But, unlike prior versions, the latest one does not ban evictions nationwide. Instead, it applies in counties that are “experiencing substantial or high levels of community transmission of [COVID-19].” This latest version is set to expire on October 3, subject, of course, “to revision based on the changing public health landscape.”
The upshot is that the Eviction Moratorium is in effect for over 90 percent of the country and nearly all counties in Texas. Check this map to determine whether it applies to your property. The courts, however, are split on whether the Moratorium is legal. The Supreme Court has not ruled on it yet, but there are strong indications that most of the justices believe that the CDC lacks the authority to halt evictions. Here’s what you need to know about the latest extension: Continue Reading The CDC’s New Eviction Moratorium Extends the Uncertainty for Landlords and Tenants
Grant Bux’s daughter Kathy “Kitten” Bux is quite the singer. She had her own record deal when she was 15 and hit it big when she became the executive producer of her fifth studio album at 26. But then, depending upon who you ask, Kitten had emotional and mental issues that prompted Grant to ask for a guardianship of Kitten. The Court decreed a guardianship; Grant is the guardian. Can a parent take over the responsibility for the physical and financial well-being of their adult child? If so, how, why and for how long? Continue Reading Guardianships in Texas and Your Adult Children
Andy Taylor’s seven-year-old son, Opie, discovers the fireworks that his father had purchased for Independence Day. He begins shooting them in a field behind their house. But Opie fails to extinguish one of the matches, which sets fire to the arid grass. Opie attempts to stomp it out but is unsuccessful. Terrified, he flees. The blaze continues to grow, spreading across the field to a nearby lumber yard. The fire consumes—and destroys—the lumber yard. Its owner looks to hold someone responsible, but is keenly aware that little boys lack the assets necessary to satisfy any judgment rendered against them. So the lumber yard’s owner considers suing Andy instead. Is Andy liable for his son’s negligence? Continue Reading Blame the Parents: Liability for Children’s Torts
On Father’s Day, Morgan Bux celebrated with her dad Big Daddy Bux and asked him to team up with her to buy the fast-growing Green Earth Air Conditioning and Heating, LLC in Buda from the Green Earth retiring owner Gaia. Morgan suggested to Big Daddy that he invest her inheritance in Green Earth and work with her to grow the business as part of his own retirement and estate planning. Big Daddy’s tax and estate planning lawyers outlined a plan. Morgan’s business consultant recommended the formation of a Green Earth advisory team to support her after the purchase and developed a long-term plan for management growth and business expansion. To complete the purchase, should Morgan buy the assets or Gaia’s membership interest in the Green Earth limited liability company? Often buyers would rather purchase the company’s asset while sellers prefer to sell the stock / membership interest in the entire company. Why is that? What would Morgan and Big Daddy prefer? Continue Reading Buying Daughter a Business – Assets or Stock?
Angelica Bux and her son Duke own a fast-growing, family business Blue Skies Air Conditioning and Heating, LLC in Cotulla Texas. Angelica plans to retire by selling Blue Skies to Duke to fund her retirement. Their business consultant developed their near-term plan to expand and maximize their business’ value. More recently, their tax and estate planning lawyers outlined an effective tax transition plan and the formation of a Blue Skies’ advisory team to support Duke’s management after the sale. To complete the purchase, should Duke buy the assets or Angelica’s membership interest in the Blue Skies’ limited liability company? Often buyers prefer to purchase the company’s assets, and sellers would rather sell the entire company. Why is that? Does an inter-family sale affect their decision? Continue Reading Selling Mom’s Business – Asset or Stock Sale?
Drake Goodman and Patty Palmer lease a studio apartment to Carter Haynes. But Haynes has not paid rent since last May, when the shelter-in-place orders caused his fledging restaurant to go out of business. While sympathetic to Haynes’s plight, the loss of rental income has severely damaged Goodman and Palmer’s own finances, and they are growing increasingly desperate. Can they evict Hayes? Should they? Continue Reading CDC’s Eviction Moratorium: Legal Limbo for Landlords and Tenants
Jack Bux and his high school sweetheart, Diane, have been married a few years, but the pandemic has taken its toll on their relationship, and they could soon be parting ways. Going into the marriage, Jack had a number of property interests – a home with a mortgage, a retirement account and a small part of the family business – and now he’s concerned that Diane will be able to walk away with half of what he’s been building over the years. Like most Texans, Jack is aware that when it comes to marital property, Texas is a “community property state.” What does this really mean for Jack’s home, retirement account and business? Continue Reading Texas Community Property Law: An Intro for Business Owners