Texas Lawyers Blog


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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Texas Inheritance Traps: Contested Probate is A Common Inheritance Trap in the Texas Legal System That Causes Families to Lose Substantial Wealth

Texas Inheritance Traps: Contested Probate is A Common Inheritance Trap in the Texas Legal System That Causes Families to Lose Substantial Wealth by Texas Inheritance Lawyer and Texas Contested Probate Lawyer Jason S. Coomer

Several inheritance traps in the Texas legal system cause families to lose substantial wealth. One of the most expensive traps is contested probate litigation. This inheritance trap typically entails family members fighting through litigation over the estate of a loved one. Contested probate litigation can begin prior to the loved ones death in contested guardianship cases and can continue for years after the loved one's death. These cases can cost families hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions of dollars. Depending on the size of the disputed estate, the contested issues which are litigated, and the parties involved, these cases vary is cost, but commonly cause families to lose a substantial amount of wealth.

For the most part, if at all possible it is best to avoid contested probate lawsuits. There are some steps that families can take to attempt to avoid contested litigation including estate planning and communication.  That being said, many of these contested probate lawsuits are unavoidable because of changing family dynamics and specific types of people in a family. 

Some Contested Probate Cases Are Unavoidable Because of Changing Family Dynamics and The Personalities of Certain Family Members

Even though good estate planning can help prevent some types of contested probate litigation, there is no perfect one size fits all estate plan that every family can use to avoid contested probate. A main reason for this is that family dynamics often change over time, especially, when a person's health fails and they get closer to death. In other words, estate plans are moving targets. These plans commonly change due to changes in living situations including where family members move, who takes care of family members with poor or failing health, and if family members get divorced or remarried.

Further, there are specific types of people who commonly cause contested probate litigation. These personalities include: 1) people who fail to communicate their wishes, 2) people who commonly change their Wills or Trusts, 3) people who use their wealth to control those around them, 4) estranged family and black sheep, 5) opportunists, and 6) fraudulent and ruthless individuals.

More specifically, a common type of family member who causes contested probate litigation is a ruthless, materialistic, manipulating, and self entitled person. These people are commonly vulture like and begin circling around wealthy people when their targets are sick or close to death. In litigating contested probate cases, it is common to discover that other family members have seen these traits in these family members and often expect them to attempt to ruthlessly seek significantly more than their fair share of any inheritance. Further, it is common for this type of person to be involved in multiple contested probate disputes.  It is also common to discover these family members have successfully taken wealth from others in the past. 

Overall, the combination of changing family dynamics and specific types of family members often make contested probate litigation unavoidable. 

Contested Guardianship Lawsuits, Contested Trust Lawsuits, Contested Wills, and Contested Estate Lawsuits Are All Forms of Contested Probate Litigation 

Numerous family battles start prior to the death of a loved one when the loved ones' health begins to fail. In these situations, contested guardianship cases or contested trust cases often start as family members attempt to protect family wealth or attempt to take wealth from a family member. These battles also commonly start as Will contests or disputes over estate property. For more information on contest probate litigation, please go to the following web pages: Texas Contested Guardianship Lawsuit Information, Texas Contested Trust Lawsuit Information, Texas Will Contest Lawsuit Information, and Austin Texas Probate Litigation Lawyer Information.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Texas Executor Removal and Other Texas Estate Beneficiary Rights: Texas Independent Executors Are Powerful But Have Fiduciary Duties and Can Be Removed by Texas Executor Removal Lawyer

Texas Executor Removal and Other Texas Estate Beneficiary Rights: The Position of a Texas Independent Executor Is Powerful, But The Texas Executor Has Fiduciary Duties, Needs to Comply With Texas Law, and Can Be Removed in Some Situations by Texas Executor Removal Lawyer and Texas Estate Beneficiary Lawyer Jason Coomer

Under Texas law, any person with testamentary capacity can designate someone in their Will to carry out their wishes after they pass.  This person is typically called an Executor. Once appointed by a Texas court, a Texas Executor has significant power to administer an estate.  This power is especially vast when the Texas Executor is independent.  A Texas Independent Executor can perform many acts with little to no supervision from Texas courts.  This vast power is often useful and can greatly reduce the cost of probate. That being said, some Texas Independent Executors abuse this vast power to the detriment of estate beneficiaries.  When this occurs, estate beneficiaries have several options.  Below is a discussion of several rights and options Texas Will Beneficiaries have.

Can Texas Estate Beneficiaries Remove a Texas Executor or Texas Independent Executor?

Yes, Texas Estate Beneficiaries or other interested parties can remove a Texas Executor through a court for several reasons.  Texas Executors can be removed without notice by a Texas court for 1) neglecting to qualify; 2) failing to timely file an inventory and list of claims; 3) failing to give bond if required; 4) being absent from the state without court permission; 5) eluding or being unavailable for service; or 6) illegally embezzling, misapplying, or removing estate property.   

Further, Texas Executors can be removed with notice for several reasons including 1) illegally misapplying, embezzling, or removing estate property; 2) failing to return any account required by law; 3) failing to obey any order of the court; 4) being guilty of gross misconduct or mismanagement in the performance of their duties; 5) becoming incapacitated, imprisoned, or otherwise incapable of properly performing their duties; or 6) failing to make a final settlement by the third anniversary of the date of letters testamentary were granted.

What Can Texas Estate Beneficiaries do if they suspect a Texas Executor is Abusing Their Powers or Timely Refusing to Distribute an Estate?

Texas Estate Beneficiaries have several options to consider if they suspect a Texas Executor is abusing their powers.  Depending on the specific circumstances of the situation, the beneficiaries may want to seek an accounting, seek a partial or full distribution of the estate, or seek to remove the Texas Executor with or without notice.  Further, if the Texas Executor has breached their fiduciary duties, has stolen from the estate, or has committed fraud, the beneficiaries may also want to file suit against the Texas Executor and seek damages.  

When Can Texas Beneficiaries Obtain An Estate Accounting from a Texas Executor?

Texas Estate Beneficiaries can request an estate accounting for a Texas Executor after the expiration of 15 months from the date that the court clerk first issued letters of testamentary.  A formal demand for an estate accounting is typically made by a lawyer for the estate beneficiaries under Texas Estate Code 404.001. The formal demand for an accounting is often an effective in pushing slow moving Texas Executors to perform their duties and move towards distributing an estate. 

What Can Beneficiaries Do If They Suspect a Texas Executor is Committing Fraud?

If Texas Estate Beneficiaries suspect that a Texas Executor is committing fraud or breaching his or her fiduciary duties, it is usually best to speak with a Texas Executor Removal Lawyer or Texas Estate Beneficiary Lawyer.  The lawyer can review the evidence of fraud or other wrongdoing and discuss options to help the beneficiaries protect their rights and inheritance.  

More Information on Texas Executors and Administrators

For more information on Texas Estate Beneficiary Rights, Removing Texas Executors, and Lawsuits Against Texas Executors, please go to the following web pages: Texas Executor Fraud Lawyer Information and Texas Probate Fraud Lawyer Information.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

CFTC Whistleblowers Can Anonymously Expose Money Laundering or Insider Trading and Collect Large Financial Rewards by Texas CFTC Whistleblower Lawyer

CFTC Whistleblowers Can Anonymously Expose Money Laundering, Insider Trading, or other Illegal Acts and Collect Large Financial Rewards by Texas CFTC Whistleblower Lawyer Jason Coomer

The United States Commodity Future Trading Commission (CFTC) is offering large financial rewards to CFTC whistleblowers.  Further, CFTC whistleblowers can anonymously expose money laundering and insider trading through a lawyer and collect financial rewards.  These CFTC money laundering bounty actions and CFTC insider trading bounty actions target illegal scheme nationally and internationally.  Through these bounty actions the CFTC encourages financial professionals and other individuals with specific knowledge of money laundering, insider trading, and other illegal schemes to step forward to expose illegal conduct. 

CFTC Whistleblowers are Encouraged to Expose Money Laundering and Violations of the Bank Secrecy Act

The CFTC is also encouraging financial professionals and other individuals with original knowledge of money laundering to expose violations of the the Bank Secrecy Act and other violations of Anti-Money Laundering Laws.  The Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), as amended by the Patriot Act, is designed to prevent, detect, and prosecute international money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The BSA and related regulations require futures commission merchants (FCMs) and introducing brokers (IBs) to establish anti-money laundering (AML) programs, report suspicious activity, verify the identity of customers and apply enhanced due diligence to certain types of accounts involving foreign persons.

Money Laundering Whistleblowers
CFTC Whistleblowers Expose Money Laundering and Insider Trading

The CFTC is targeting futures commission merchants (FCMs) and introducing brokers who fail to comply with Bank Secrecy Act requirements.  More specifically, CFTC Whistleblowers with original knowledge of the following conduct are encouraged to expose the violations.

  1. Improper supervision and records violations
  2. Failure to diligently supervise officers’, employees’, and agents’ opening and handling of accounts  
  3. Failure to protect customers and the markets from fraud and corruption
  4. Improper enforcement of trading limits assigned by regulators
  5. Inadequate construction of a customer identification program as part of the firm’s compliance program  
  6. Failure to file suspicious activity reports 

Insider Trading Can Be The Basis of CFTC Bounty Actions

CFTC Whistleblowers are encouraged to expose insider trading.  CFTC Whistleblowers are encouraged to expose insider trading including individuals who have a duty to protect material nonpublic information (MNPI). The CFTC is concerned with conduct such as:

  1. Trading on market moving information that the source had a duty to protect
  2. Brokers front running customer orders or taking the other side of any customer order without consent
  3. Tipping or trading using material nonpublic information MNPI obtained by virtue of employment 
  4. Trading on material nonpublic information MNPI that was obtained by fraud or deception
  5. FCMs or brokers improperly disclosing customer orders or other material nonpublic information MNPI 
  6. Swap dealers or major swap participants improperly disclosing material nonpublic information MNPI or using MNPI provided by a  counterparty without the counterparty’s consent

Financial professionals, auditors, high end investors and others with specialized knowledge of insider trading conduct are encouraged to expose insider trading schemes.

More Information CFTC Bounty Actions

For more information on CFTC bounty actions, please go to the following web page: Securities Fraud and Commodities Fraud Bounty Actions and CFTC Bounty Action Lawyer: Confidential Reviews and Anonymous Reporting.