Law Office of Patrick K. Woods, PLLC

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Civil Litigation, Probate

and Estate Planning


Civil Litigation Attorney in Tyler, TX

Personal and private disputes over money and property can sometimes be resolved outside of court. However, when both parties cannot reach an agreement, civil litigation may be required. The Law Office of Patrick K. Woods, PLLC provides skillful representation for clients in Tyler, Longview, Lufkin, Marshall, and throughout Texas. From consumer protection to business contracts to mineral rights, Mr. Woods argues in your favor.


Consumer and Commercial Litigation

The Law Office of Patrick K. Woods can represent both plaintiffs and defendants in a variety of civil litigation matters. Mr. Woods initially acquired civil litigation experience while working at a highly regarded nationwide firm, representing small and large counties, cities, and school districts in complex tax disputes throughout east Texas.

As a result of this experience, Mr. Woods gained the "large firm" skills needed to meet the diverse needs of his clients. He is able to represent corporations, small businesses, and individuals in disputes such as business contracts, consumer protection matters, personal injury, and maritime accidents in both state and federal courts. If you or someone you know is engaged in some type of civil dispute, contact Attorney Woods to schedule a consultation.

Texas Consumer Litigation Lawyer

Consumer and commercial law is the practice of law dealing with consumer and commercial transactions, including transactions of individual and business consumers and commercial transactions between businesses and other businesses or individuals. Law Office of Patrick K. Woods, represents people and businesses in litigation pursuant to the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act ("DTPA"). The firm's experience in general civil litigation aided by extensive knowledge of the DTPA and relevant case law provides our clients with a distinct advantage in DTPA Claims.

What is the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act?

Enacted in 1973, the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act ("DTPA") was created to protect consumers from false, misleading, and deceptive practices by business and insurance practice as well as breaches of warranty and unconscionable actions. The Act defines consumers to include natural persons and small to middle sized businesses.

What Conduct is Prohibited by the Act?

The full text of the DTPA can be found at section 17.41 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code. Specifically, section 17.46(b) of the Texas Business and Commerce Code contains a non-exclusive list of 25 prohibited acts. Some of the prohibited acts include:

• Passing off goods or services as those of another
• False representation
• False disparagement of goods or services of another business
• False advertising (in certain circumstances)
• False misrepresentation
• False warranties
• Failure to disclose certain information in sales of goods and services
• False representation of business entity status
• Price gauging after a disaster

How Can I Determine If I Have a Viable Cause of Action?

Case law interpreting the DTPA is a fluid and ever-changing matter. The best way to protect your rights is to immediately contact an experienced Deceptive Trade Practices Act attorney if you think you may have a cause of action.

Oil and Gas Industry

Oil and Gas

Mineral rights are an essential part of land ownership in Texas. These valuable rights can be compromised when owners sign documents, take action, or fail to take action. Property and mineral owners should consult with an oil and gas attorney before taking any action with regard to mineral rights, mineral leases, or contracts. Mr. Woods can handle various agreements and litigation within the oil and gas industry, including:

• Mineral Lease Agreements
• Joint Operating Agreements
• Purchase and Sale Agreements
• Title Examinations

Estate Planning

Estate planning is the process of arranging your assets to be distributed legally to the next generation, usually through a Will and/or Trust. Proper planning of an estate helps ensure that your wishes are carried out.

The Revocable Living Trust is a popular estate planning tool in Texas. The Law Office of Patrick K. Woods can help you determine if a Revocable Living Trust is advantageous for your circumstances. Potential benefits include:  

PROBATE AVOIDANCE
A Revocable Trust can spare your family the trouble and expense of dealing with the Probate Court. This is of particular importance to Texas residents, since the Texas probate system can be cumbersome and family members often live at great distances. 


AVOID GUARDIANSHIP AND KEEP THE COURT OUT OF YOUR PERSONAL AFFAIRS
Unlike a Will, which is a death instrument only, the Revocable Living Trust also protects you while you're alive by allowing you to appoint someone to handle your business affairs in the event you become incapacitated. This minimizes the chances of guardianship and court involvement in your personal affairs.

MAINTAIN FAMILY PRIVACY AND DISCOURAGE CHALLENGES
The Revocable Living Trust is a private document and need not be filed with the court. That offers another advantage: privacy. Your dispositions are not public record, as they are with a Will. That also reduces the possibility of your plan being challenged by any disgruntled heirs.

MORE CONTROL OVER DISTRIBUTIONS TO BENEFICIARIES
A Revocable Living Trust gives you greater ability to control when and how your beneficiaries use their inheritance. For example, you may want your grandchildren to receive their money only when they attain a certain age. If you have an adult child who is not responsible with money, the provisions of your Trust could specifically give him only certain amounts at specific ages, and/or for specific purposes. 

ESTATE TAX ADVANTAGES
Note: As of January 1, 2018 the federal estate tax exclusion is $11.2 million per person with a top tax rate of 40%. 

For couples with taxable estates, the Revocable Living Trust can offer additional advantages. A Credit Shelter Trust, (commonly known as the AB Trust or Bypass Trust), allows couples to pass more tax-free money to beneficiaries by taking full advantage of each spouse's estate tax exclusion. When the first spouse dies, his or her assets equal to the amount exempt from estate taxes -- currently $11.2 million -- flow into a Credit Shelter Trust. The survivor has access to the income from that Trust, but not the principal.  When the survivor dies, the money from the Credit Shelter is not included in the survivor's estate, thereby allowing twice as much money to be passed tax-free to heirs.  

CHOOSING YOUR SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE
When you establish a Revocable Trust as part of your estate planning, you (the grantor, also known as the trustor) make yourself the trustee of the assets you place in the Trust. You are still free to sell, trade and give away the assets as you see fit. You may also change the terms of the Trust, or revoke it, at any time. But once you pass on, the successor trustee(s) you've designated take control of your assets, and distribute them in accordance with the provisions of your Trust.

Choosing a successor trustee is a serious decision. First, the individual must be willing to serve as trustee and take seriously their fiduciary responsibility. The successor trustee should also have sufficient financial experience, sound judgment and adequate time to handle the responsibilities that come with the job. The successor Trustee should always hire professionals -- lawyers, accountants, etc. to assist with the tasks the trustee lacks the proficiency or comfort to do him/herself.

In certain circumstances you may find it preferable to appoint a third party rather than a relative as successor trustee. For example, you may believe that time constraints or questionable integrity will interfere with your adult child's ability to handle the job. Also, if your adult children do not get along, choosing a third party can be preferable to choosing just one child, which may inflame sibling rivalries, or to appointing all your children as co-trustees and somehow hoping that they can work together amicably. A bank or trust company may serve as a third-party trustee.  

Probate

Probate is the legal process of administering an estate and resolving all claims to assets and property the process is often dictated by a valid will, but also applies when a person dies without having signed a valid will. The process involves validating a will and interpreting the intent and instructions contained with the will or following statutory dictates in the absence of a controlling will.

Probate involves not only the distribution of an estate, but also resolution of any creditor claims and assignment of an executor or administrator. The process works on behalf of heirs and other parties who may have claims against the estate.

What happens if you choose not to plan your estate? Without a Will, the state will claim your estate as “intestate,” and then it will be up to Texas’s laws to distribute your assets. This process takes a considerable amount of time, and any attorneys’ fees will come straight from the estate, thereby reducing how much of your assets go to your children and children’s children.

Once you plan for your estate, you will have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have done your best to protect your family and knowing that you have saved them time and legal fees. Proper planning can also maximize the value of your estate by accounting for taxes and expenses in advance.

Even if you’ve had a Will or Trust already created, it is important to make sure older Wills and Trusts are up to date so that they work properly when they are needed.

Contact the Law Office of Patrick K. Woods for a free consultation.