Posts Tagged "sam moak attorney"

MAKE SURE YOU TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR

Posted by on Jun 20, 2011 in Estate Planning | 0 comments

MAKE SURE YOU TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR

“The Legal Corner”

By Sam A. Moak

MAKE SURE YOU TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR

The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the law.  Any readers with a legal problem, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult an attorney for advice on their particular circumstance. 

As hot as it is this summer, and its only June, this maybe a good time to reorganize the closets, clean out those old files in the cabinet, and get rid of all those boxes in the garage.  Call it “Extended Spring Cleaning” if you will.  Anytime someone “Spring Cleans” seems to be a good time to take stock and start fresh…at least in the home.  But what about with your health?

I am not talking about the diet you vowed to follow in your New Year’s Resolution, or trying to look good in that new bathing suit this summer.  What I am talking about is your annual checkup—taking stock of your health with your primary care physician and making sure you are both on the same page with your instructions for health care and your advanced healthcare directive or living will.

 When clients come into our office for an estate plan, we ensure that their healthcare instructions are completed as well.  But the job doesn’t end when the document is signed.  We tell our clients their health care providers need to be aware of their wishes as well.  The best way to ensure that they know and understand your wishes is to take a copy of your advanced healthcare directive or living will with you to your next check up and talk to your physician about it, then ask them to keep the copy on file.

 A rule of thumb with healthcare wishes is to give a copy of your Medical Power of Attorney and your Directive to Physicians and Family to each of your primary care physicians, give copies to each of the healthcare agents you’ve nominated, AND keep a copy or two on file to take with you if you ever need to go to the hospital.  Of course, keep the signed original in a safe place with the rest of your estate planning documents.

If you have a question regarding Elder Law, Estate Planning, Living Trusts or Probate in the Huntsville area, please contact us at 936-295-6394 or visit our website.  Call today and we will connect you with an experienced Elder Law and Probate Attorney.  We can schedule you a face to face appointment to discuss your circumstances.  If you have questions or are considering any aspect of your estate plan, probate, or your health care directives, etc. we can help! We look forward to hearing from you and assisting you with any and all elder law and estate planning needs.  

Sam A. Moak is an attorney with the Huntsville law firm of Moak & Moak, P.C. He is licensed to practice in all fields of law by the Supreme Court of Texas, is a Member of the State Bar College, and is a member of the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.  www.moakandmoak.com
 
 

 

  

 

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NEW GIFT TAX BREAK

Posted by on Jun 12, 2011 in Estate Planning | 0 comments

Having a net worth of $1 million, or maybe even $2 million, does not give you entry into such a small exceptional group as used to be the case.  By some estimates, between 5 and 6 million American households have a net worth of at least $2 million.  This means that currently there are considerably more people who should consider how best to shield their money from the IRS and pass it on to their heirs, assuming that is their wish.  One such strategy that just became more attractive, due to new federal legislation, is the making of gifts during one’s lifetime.

Among the significant pieces of the new federal tax law that was passed in December 2010 were very substantial, albeit temporary, increases in the lifetime gift tax exemptions for individuals and couples.  For 2011 and 2012, these exemptions have increased five-fold, from $1 million to $5 million for individuals, and from $2 million to $10 million for couples.  There will be no gift tax imposed on gifts that do not exceed those totals.  The same law reduces the tax rate for gifts above the exemptions to 35% from a scheduled rate of 55%, thus benefitting individuals wealthy enough to make gifts that exceed the exemption levels.

Last year, Congress also raised the exemption for federal estate taxes to $5 million, and lowered the estate tax rate to 35%, also for a two-year period, so that, taken together, the new federal estate and gift tax rates are more favorable for taxpayers than they have been for approximately 80 years.

This is an area of the law for which sophisticated professional help is especially appropriate, but there are some general considerations to bear in mind when devising a plan for gift-giving.  For example, making a gift now, tax-free, makes good sense, especially for assets that are appreciating rapidly, so that future appreciation can be shielded from taxes.  It is conceivable that Congress in the future could “claw back” gifts that are greater than the exemption at the time the donor dies, but, even in that event, any income or appreciation occurring after the gift date should be tax-exempt.

Other considerations for giving are more emotional than legal.  Financial considerations aside, it may be a high priority for you to make sure that assets with sentimental value are preserved for future descendants, such as by putting them into a trust.  Or gift-giving decisions may entail weighing some remorse over parting with assets that took so long to acquire against the desire to improve the lot of those receiving the gifts.  Of course, a contrarian view might see large gifts as mainly abdicating control and risking having everything squandered. In any case, if these considerations are all reconciled in favor of making major gifts, now may well be the time to take the plunge.

I hope this review of the new federal tax law passed in 2010 has made it clear that everyone should do some planning.  If you have a Will and have not reviewed it in awhile, then now is the time because the tax laws have changed and all Wills are not created equal.  Your old Will may be outdated.  You should consult an attorney to review your estate and draft the best document for you. Spending a little now can save a great deal of expense and aggravation for you family later.

If you have a question regarding Elder Law, Estate Planning, Living Trusts or Probate in the Huntsville area, please contact us at 936-295-6394 or visit our website. Call today and we will connect you with an experienced Elder Law and Probate Attorney. We can schedule you a face to face appointment to discuss your circumstances. If you have questions or are considering any aspect of your estate plan, probate, your health care directives, etc. we can help! Call us now at 936-295-6394 . We look forward to hearing from you and assisting you with any and all elder law and estate planning needs.

 

Sam A. Moak is and attorney with the Huntsville law firm of Moak & Moak, P.C. He is licensed to practice in all fields of law by the Supreme Court of Texas, is a Member of the State Bar College, and is a member of the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.

 

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SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE WORKPLACE

Posted by on Jun 10, 2011 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Many of you may be like me and have had to deal with employees using social media while at work.  While the small issues I have dealt with relate more to productivity than those I describe here, I thought it was an interesting topic we all deal with.  The prevalence of social media, including postings that are meant for employment-related topics in particular, has led to an increase in litigation on the subject between employees and their employers.  The scenarios leading the parties to the courtroom are as varied as one might imagine.  A company fires a worker over her criticisms of the boss that she posted on Facebook.  Repeated attempts by a manager to “friend” a female employee on Facebook eventually leads to allegations of sexual harassment.  A disappointed job applicant sues when a job offer is retracted after a hiring manager turns up something about the applicant on Twitter that the manager finds disturbing.

In addition to scenarios in which a worker loses his or her job because of something appearing in social media, litigation may ensue against an employer if its supervisory officials go too far in digging for dirt by this means.  For example, two restaurant workers won a monetary settlement after having sued their former employer for gaining access to postings on a password-protected Myspace page set up as a chat group for employees only. What was found on the page eventually led to the workers’ termination.  The case was settled after a jury found that the employer had violated the federal Stored Communications Act (SCA).

The employees’ managers had violated the SCA by knowingly accessing the chat group on Myspace without authorization.  Although a fellow employee had provided her log-in information to one of the company’s managers, she had not authorized access to the chat group by any of the company’s managers.  She also felt that she had been coerced into giving her password to her manager, as she felt that she would have been in trouble if she had not done so.

Using the employee’s password, the company’s managers accessed the chat group on several occasions, although it was clear on the website that the chat group was intended to be private and accessible only to invited members.  Finally, the managers continued to access the chat group even after realizing that the employee had reservations about having provided her log-in information.

Since e-mail first came on the scene, similar cases have arisen over what was or was not appropriate when employees used their company-provided computers for sending e-mails. One preventative measure for employers has been to create a clear written policy on the subject, followed up by informing and training the employees.  Likewise, an employer’s best protection against potential liability stemming from social media may be to establish a policy that clearly spells out the ground rules for the use of social media.

If you have a question regarding Elder Law, Estate Planning, Living Trusts or Probate in the Huntsville area, please contact us at 936-295-6394 or visit our website. Call today and we will connect you with an experienced Elder Law and Probate Attorney. We can schedule you a face to face appointment to discuss your circumstances. If you have questions or are considering any aspect of your estate plan, probate, your health care directives, etc. we can help! Call us now at 936-295-6394 . We look forward to hearing from you and assisting you with any and all elder law and estate planning needs.

Sam A. Moak is and attorney with the Huntsville law firm of Moak & Moak, P.C. He is licensed to practice in all fields of law by the Supreme Court of Texas, is a Member of the State Bar College, and is a member of the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.
 
 
 

 

www.moakandmoak.com

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WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO DISCUSS YOUR CASE HONESTLY AND THOROUGHLY WITH YOUR ATTORNEY

Posted by on May 8, 2011 in You and Your Attorney | 0 comments

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO DISCUSS YOUR CASE HONESTLY AND THOROUGHLY WITH YOUR ATTORNEY

It is important to be completely honest and thorough when discussing your case with your attorney. Your attorney can only help you if he knows all the facts, good and bad, regarding your case. You must realize there may be important issues presented by your case that you aren’t even aware of. Your attorney must know these up front so they can adequately prepare for all contingencies. You could be at serious legal risk about an issue you don’t even realize exists. If you don’t discuss them with your attorney, how will you know? Worse yet, if your attorney does not know all the facts, he or she may be blindsided by an issue at the worse time. This never bodes well for the client.
Never make assumptions about the law which applies to your case. The law shows you’ve seen on TV are rarely accurate, and just because you’ve “seen it on TV,” doesn’t mean it is correct, or even “legal.” The only way you know this is to talk it over with a qualified attorney.
Sometimes new issues will pop up after your case is started. If they do, it is important to advise your attorney and discuss them, so that you know the potential legal consequences to you. Remember that your attorney can only advise you on matters you tell him/her about, so it is essential that you provide complete information about your case.

Remember, you and your attorney are working as a team. That means good communication and a clear understanding of each person’s assignments is essential.

Sam A. Moak is an attorney and managing partner with the Huntsville law firm of MOAK & MOAK, P.C. He is licensed to practice in all fields of law by the Supreme Court of Texas and is a Member of the State Bar College.
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