Smithville Legal Blog

Steps to take during a merger or acquisition

In an effort to run a business more efficiently, an organization may choose to merge with a competitor. Acquiring or merging with other companies in Texas can be a complex process. The first step is the due diligence process, during which each side learns more about each other and the proposed deal itself. Ideally, companies will review all aspects of the deal including its financial and technological impacts.

To ensure a successful merger or acquisition, it's a good idea to determine the new management structure before the deal is completed. This makes it easier to implement once two companies officially become one entity. The faster that a new management team is in place, the more confidence that interested parties can have in the deal. There should also be an effort made to identify which types of technology should be kept or dismantled once the merger or acquisition is complete.

AAA: drivers don't know the limitations of their car safety tech

Texas residents may find that driver assistance systems provide a great benefit to them. It's true that car safety features are effective and can prevent about 40 percent of car crashes and about 30 percent of crash-related fatalities, according to federal estimates. However, they can backfire on drivers if they fail to grasp the limitations inherent in technology. This is where a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety comes in.

AAA has found some alarming evidence that drivers are over-reliant on safety features like blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control. 80 percent of drivers with the former do not know about its limited ability to detect fast-approaching cars, bicyclists and pedestrians, and 20 percent never even look for oncoming vehicles when changing lanes.

Why estate planning is important for adults

There are several reasons a person in Texas may need an estate plan regardless of whether the person is wealthy or not. However, people may hesitate to make one. One survey found that only 42 percent of people said they had an estate plan.

For wealthy people, an estate plan is important in avoiding taxes including gift tax, estate tax and generation-skipping transfer tax. An estate plan can also be used to establish philanthropic giving. A person might want to create a trust or a foundation to donate to charity. Limited liability entities or trusts could be set up to protect the family wealth from lawsuits. Estate planning can also be an important part of preparing children to become more comfortable with the family wealth. Parents may work with children themselves or have a financial advisor start teaching them about money.

What to say and not say when police pull you over for DWI

With school underway, so is partying with your fellow college students. While this may be a normal part of college life, it can also be a source of legal trouble if you are not careful. A common way partying can land you in hot water is by driving while intoxicated.

Unfortunately, it does not take much for your blood alcohol level to rise. Numerous factors play a role in the rate your body metabolizes alcohol, such as your sex, size, health, speed of consumption and food intake. So even if you think it is safe to get behind the wheel, it may not be, and you can find yourself face to face with a Texas police officer on the side of the road. What you say and do not say is influential in the outcome of your case, so review these tips to avoid making the situation worse.

Estate planning lessons to be learned from Aretha Franklin

It's not unusual for hardworking individuals in Texas to do everything possible to protect the future of their assets. This is often done legally with either a will or trust. However, many estate owners neglect to do this. For example, the late R&B singer Aretha Franklin never made such arrangements with her own estate, estimated to be valued at approximately $80 million. Because of a lack of will or trust, the Queen of Soul's four sons have come forward as interested parties. Franklin's niece has reportedly been selected to act as the estate's personal representative.

When properly prepared, wills and trusts can expedite estate matters following a death. The singer's entertainment lawyer said that he had tried several times over the years to convince Franklin to complete a trust. She did, however, have an estate lawyer. Even so, it's unclear as to why she never followed through with the legal advice she was given. The "Freeway of Love" singer was said to have certain financial quirks, such as demanding to be paid in cash prior to performances.

Small businesses can still benefit from social media

Small business owners in Texas and across the country are increasingly optimistic about the future of their small businesses. In the 2018 Small Business Index for the third quarter of 2018, polls showed a 15-year high in optimism among business owners. The score marks its highest point since the index began in 2003. Of the small business owners who were surveyed, 78 percent said that their financial situation was at least somewhat good. In addition, 69 percent said that they had a positive cash flow while 77 percent anticipated that 2019 would also be a good financial year.

When surveyed, only 54 percent of these small business owners said that they planned to put energy into increasing the online visibility or activities of their firms. While this figure still represents a majority of respondents, it also indicates that online initiatives are less central than they were in recent years. There has been significant negative publicity about social media, and major firms like Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook have recorded either a declining user base or slowing expansion. This may lead a number of entrepreneurs to focus on other aspects of development instead.

The dangers of fatigued driving

Fatigue slows down reaction times and hampers decision making, but studies suggest that an alarming number of drivers in Texas and around the country are unconcerned by these risks. Six out of 10 of the motorists polled by the National Sleep Foundation admitted to drowsy driving, and more than a third said that they had fallen asleep while behind the wheel at least once. This disturbs road safety advocates because a driver who has not slept for 24 hours is as impaired as a motorist with a blood alcohol content of .10 percent.

Another study conducted on behalf of the American Automobile Association suggests that government crash statistics may not be painting a complete picture. After studying in-vehicle video footage recorded just moments before collisions occurred, researchers concluded that the percentage of accidents involving drowsy drivers could be as much as eight times higher than figures from agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate.

Study finds some groups more likely to use phones while driving

Drivers in Texas whose attitudes toward safety are negative may be more likely to use their mobile phones while behind the wheel. In addition, frequent phone users and women are more likely to get distracted by a mobile device while driving. These were among the results of a recent study published by the Society for Risk Analysis.

The study also found that drivers who were more experienced were less likely to drive while using their phones. It is estimated that talking on a mobile phone while driving makes it about twice as likely that the motorist will be involved in a car accident. Texting and driving makes an accident around six times more likely.

Business formation types that limit personal liability

If you own and operate your own small business, or if you are looking to launch your own small business, one of the first things you should consider is how to reduce your degree of personal liability in that business. Even if you are not creating a business that has obvious risks, such as some sort of outdoor recreation or transportation endeavor, you still have certain areas in which you may be liable, or responsible, if someone sues you.

Exactly how liable you are in the event that your company becomes the subject of a lawsuit or judgment depends on the type of business entity you operate. Certain business structures, such as the limited liability company and the S corporation, can limit the amount of personal liability you have in your business. 

The importance of an estate plan

Having a carefully crafted will is important, but this only a small part of ensuring that assets will be managed in accordance with one's wishes. A well-developed estate plan is necessary to address the complicated issues that can arise regarding a decedent's estate. With an estate plan, a Texas resident can specify what should happen to their estate after they die, their reasons for wanting their estate handled in a specific way and who should be in charge of the estate to ensure that it is managed properly.

In addition to having a will, an estate plan could include trusts, powers of attorney and a health care directive. Furthermore, documents will be necessary to express one's reasons or intent for the decisions they make.

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