Navigating Real Estate Legal Disputes: Answering the Top Five Questions

There are many different real estate legal disputes that can arise during any transaction. Clients and developers may have a disagreement while residential or commercial property is being developed. Landlords and tenants can argue about non-payment of rent or improper maintenance of the property. Neighbors can encroach on their neighbor’s property. These are just a few of the most common types of disputes.

Any real estate dispute can be confusing. They can even be damaging to your business or your property. It is important that you speak to a Texas real estate lawyer who can help you through the complicated process and answer all of your questions. Below, our seasoned attorney answers five of the top questions we hear.

What is Real Estate Litigation Law?

Real estate litigation is an area of law that addresses disputes involving actual property such as homes, commercial properties, buildings, and land in Texas. Real estate litigation law is intended to protect the rights of property owners and anyone who uses the property. Real estate litigation law governs multiple issues ranging from loans, mortgages, and liens to title disputes, real estate contracts, and landlord/tenant law. Real estate litigation law also provides a process for filing a lawsuit when a dispute requires a resolution, such as those that involve easements or boundary lines.

Real estate litigation is sometimes necessary when a property owner believes another party has violated their rights, such as another property owner, a municipality, or an insurance company. When a property owner feels they need to enforce their rights, they can file a lawsuit with the court. Real estate litigation law is a legal area that is extremely complicated and many people do not understand the laws or process to follow. A Texas real estate lawyer can make sure justice is served and that people’s rights are protected.

What are Common Real Estate Disputes?

Some of the most common real estate disputes involve titles and property rights. These disputes commonly arise when two or more parties disagree about the use or ownership of real property. Some of the most common disputes include quiet title actions, boundary line disputes, and landlord/tenant disputes.

Boundary line disputes occur when two or more parties disagree about the exact location of a property line. Quiet title actions occur when a person attempts to establish that they are the undisputed owner of a specific piece of land. Landlord/tenant disputes occur when a tenant and landlord disagree about issues such as possession, rent, or other matters regarding the rental of the property.

Other real estate issues include easement disputes, contract disputes, nuisance claims, and adverse possession claims. Easement disputes arise when two or more parties disagree about the use of property owned by another party, such as access to natural resources such as water and right of way. Contract disputes occur when two or more parties enter into a contract and disagree about the terms of the agreement. Nuisance claims occur when land is used in such a way that causes another person harm or distress. Adverse possession claims occur when someone hopes to gain ownership of land by using it regularly over a certain period of time.

What Steps Should I Take in a Real Estate Lawsuit?

Every real estate lawsuit will differ slightly from others, as the remedies available are unique to the specific disagreement. However, there are some general steps to take during the process. They are as follows:

  • Collect evidence: Before even filing a lawsuit, or responding to one, you should collect as much evidence as possible. Evidence can include contracts, photos, property records, or written correspondence between you and the other party. It can also be helpful to search public records to find important information on the title history of the property. The title history may offer information about liens, ownership, and encumbrances that can help a case.
  • Speak to a real estate litigation lawyer: You have the right to represent yourself during a real estate dispute, but it is not recommended. A real estate lawyer can review the facts of your case and provide sound advice regarding the best way to resolve the disagreement. Real estate lawsuits are very complicated and you will greatly benefit from the help of an experienced attorney.
  • Consider alternative dispute resolution methods: Not all real estate lawsuits end up in the courtroom. Alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation can resolve your disagreement in a faster and more cost-efficient manner.
  • File a lawsuit: A real estate litigation lawyer will know the process of filing your lawsuit with the court and fully outline your complaint as well as the remedy you are seeking.
  • Negotiate: You can negotiate with the other side to reach a settlement agreement at any point during the process. A real estate lawyer will have the necessary experience to negotiate a settlement that is fair.

How Long Does Real Estate Litigation Take?

No one can determine exactly how long your real estate lawsuit will take. The amount of time required depends on the type of dispute, the amount of research involved, and the willingness of all parties to reach an agreement. Still, real estate lawsuits can often take one year or more when they need to be resolved in a courtroom. After reviewing the facts of your case, a lawyer can provide an approximate timeline for your case.

Do You Need a Real Estate Lawyer in Texas?

Again, you are not required to have legal counsel to help with your real estate dispute. However, working with a Texas real estate lawyer will bring you many advantages. Real estate litigation is complicated and one mistake could hurt your case. At Integrity Law Group, PLLC, our experienced attorneys can draft your lawsuit, file it with the appropriate court, meet deadlines, and negotiate on your behalf as your case proceeds. Call us now at (832) 280-9576 or contact us online to request a consultation and to learn more about how we can help resolve your dispute.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Real Estate Transactions in Texas

There are many steps in real estate transactions in Texas. The steps you take will depend on the type of transaction you are entering into. Purchasing and selling homes are some of the most common types of transactions in Texas, and the process of leasing or renting is very similar. Below, one of our Texas real estate attorneys outlines the steps of selling and buying a home and how to get the help you need throughout the transaction.

Contact a Texas Real Estate Lawyer

Selling or buying a home is a complicated process that involves a great deal of negotiation and legal documentation. You are not required to work with a Texas real estate lawyer, but legal assistance will make the process much easier for you. A lawyer can help you navigate the process, draft and review important contracts, prepare and submit all documents, ensure you do not miss deadlines, and protect your best interests at all times throughout the transaction.

Find a Lender and Real Estate Agent

Finding a lender or real estate agent in today’s world has become easier because the Internet has made it so easy to find countless options. However, the sheer number of options you have has also made it more difficult to find the right real estate agent or lender for you. You must compare several lenders and real estate agents. Compare their experience, their rates, fees, or commission, and more. Also remember you do not have to rely on the Internet. You can ask family and friends and use trusted resources, such as Texas Realtors, to find someone you can trust.

List or Find Your Home

Your real estate agent will use resources such as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and other online platforms to help you find a home or list your current residence for sale. If you are purchasing, your real estate agent will also research the current conditions of the market and location, the neighborhoods you are considering, and any must-haves you would like in the home.

A real estate agent can also help you determine a reasonable price for your home if you are selling. Still, it is important to obtain a recent appraisal so you understand what the property is worth. You may also need additional time to repair or replace certain conditions prior to the sale. You will also have to consider staging your home, and regardless of whether you are buying or selling, you will have to make time for showings.

Sign the Contract and Open Escrow

You will have to consider many options about the contract. These include contingencies, home renovations,  and the overall timeline. It is critical that you consider these factors before signing the final contract. You may also have to negotiate for certain repairs to be made before the move-in date. Negotiations can take time, so you should always make sure you are communicating well with your agent.

If you are purchasing a home, you will also have to open an escrow account. Escrow is an important process, but it is also one that is complex and largely misunderstood. An escrow account assures each party that the sale will go through because the funds are being held safely. Escrow accounts are typically used for good faith money deposits, taxes, and homeowners insurance.

Complete Repairs or Inspections

Home inspections are also an important part of the process for buyers. You should hire an inspector who can analyze all conditions on the property and inform you of any issues they find. If there are issues present, you can negotiate with the seller to make the necessary repairs. Or, you may choose to handle the repairs yourself in exchange for an adjustment in the price.

Meet With the Title Agent

The role of the title agent is often overlooked because they are only a small part of the process. Still, they are also important. Title agents conduct a search on the title of the property. There are many encumbrances that can be on a property, including utilities, unpaid taxes, and other fees and liens. The title agent will find any of these issues and make sure no stone is left unturned. After determining that the property is free of these encumbrances, they will issue a title commitment that ensures the home is marketable and that it can be protected by title insurance.

Submit Necessary Paperwork

You will have to review a lot of paperwork and send information to your real estate agent, as well as the lender and title company. To avoid unnecessary delays, you should respond promptly to these requests.

Deposit Closing Funds

The title agent or company will also provide the closing disclosure, which outlines all of the closing costs. This can be a confusing part of the process, so make sure to speak to your real estate agent or lawyer about this documentation. After reviewing the disclosure, you should wire the funds to the title company before closing.

Review and Sign Closing Paperwork

After the title work is complete and the lender has approved the deal to close, you will meet with a closing agent from the title company. There is a lot of paperwork to review and sign, so it is important to remain patient and not rush through the process.

Receive Your Keys or Funds

After all of the paperwork has been signed and you have done your due diligence, the keys are yours, and it is time to move into your new home. If you have sold your home, you can receive your funds and take the next necessary steps.

Call Our Real Estate Lawyers in Texas Today

The real estate process can become complex, and every step within it is important. At Integrity Law Group, our Texas real estate lawyers can provide the legal advice you need and make sure the process is as smooth as possible for you. Call us now at (832) 521-4201 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help with your case.

An Overview of Estate Planning in Texas from Estate Planning Attorneys

Who needs estate planning in Texas?

Estate planning is an important tool for helping you decide who will receive your property and how to distribute your assets after death. Estate planning also covers certain requirements in the event you become incapacitated, such as who will make medical or financial decisions on your behalf.

Essentially, anyone with property, a business, a minor child, or concerned about possible incapacity should inquire about estate planning. If you have any valuables that you want a specific person or organization to receive when you pass away, then estate planning is significant enough to inquire about.

What are the Advantages of Estate Planning in Texas?

There are several legal documents attorneys can draft to set out your wishes and appoint the person you choose to distribute your property as well as make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Click here to learn more about estate planning for incapacity. 

There are many benefits to planning ahead. Below is a list of a few of the advantages of Estate Planning in Texas:  

  • Choose the person you trust to carry out your wishes,
  • Distribute your assets to the beneficiaries whether individuals or organizations of your choice
  • Minimize future expenses to the estate and leave more money for your loved ones,
  • Ease the burden on your beneficiaries,
  • Outline financial and medical decisions in you become incapacitated,
  • Minimize tax burdens, and
  • Establish Trustees over your estate. 

What if I choose not to have a will?

When you die without a will, also known as intestate succession, the State of Texas decides how your assets are distributed. The Texas Estate Code Section 201 lays out the applicable rules on how property is distributed without a will.  

The Default Texas Rule for Intestate Succession for Heirs:

Depending on your marital status and whether you have children, Texas lays out how your assets are distributed. 

Below are different scenarios for single individuals:

  • Single with no children, parents, and no siblings – If you’re single and have no children, your estate will pass to your parents equally. 
  • Single with no children, no siblings, and one parent – If you only have one parent alive, and no siblings, your estate passes to your living parent. 
  • Single with no children, siblings, and one parent – and If you have one living parent and siblings, half of your estate passes to your living parent, and half is divided among your siblings and deceased sibling’s descendants.
  • Single with no children, no parents, and siblings – If both parents are deceased, your estate passes to your siblings and deceased siblings’ descendants.
  • Single with no direct descendants – If no living parents, siblings, or deceased sibling’s descendants, half of your estate passes to your mother’s side and half passes to your father’s side. If either side of the family is all deceased, the estate passes to the surviving side.
  • Single and no heirs – The estate passes to The State of Texas if neither side of the family is alive.
  • Single with children – If you’re single and have children, your estate passes to your children equally. If you have grandchildren, they will not inherit your estate unless their parent (your child) has passed away. 

Below are different scenarios for married couples:

In Texas, upon divorce or death, the presumption is all property acquired during the marriage is community property. To learn more about community property, click here.

  • Spouse with no children – Your spouse gets 100% of your community property.
  • Spouses and children who are also your spouse’s children – Your spouse gets 100% of your community property.
  • Spouse and stepchildren of your spouse – ½ of your community property passes to your spouse and the other ½ passed to your children. 
  • Spouse and parents – Your spouse gets 100% of your community property.
  • Spouse and siblings w/no parents –  Your spouse gets 100% of your community property.

Separate Property is property owned before marriage, acquired during marriage by gift, inheritance, or recovery for personal injury except for the loss of earning capacity during marriage. 

  • Spouse with no children -Surviving spouse inherits ½ separate personal property and the remaining ½ to parents and siblings.
  • Spouse and children who are also your spouse’s children – Spouse gets ⅓ separate personal property and life estate to real property. Children will inherit everything else.
  • Spouse and stepchildren of your spouse – Spouse gets ⅓ separate personal property and life estate to real property. Children will inherit everything else.
  • Spouse and parents – Spouse gets all your separate personal property, ½ of your separate real property. Parents inherit everything else. 
  • Spouse and siblings w/no parents –  Spouse gets all separate personal property and ½ of real property. The sibling inherits everything else. 
  • To learn more about the Texas estates code and property division upon death, contact us for a consultation here. 

To learn more about the Texas Estates Code and property division or distribution upon death reach out to an Integrity Law Group PLLC attorney.

Texas Statute of Limitations (SOL) Related to Title of Real Property

While not exhaustive, below is a list of liens and judgments along with the Texas Statute of Limitations that may be filed or found in the real property records or county clerk’s office. This list may be updated from time to time. For the complete and up-to-date constitution and statutes visit

What is a statute of limitation (SOL)?

A statute of limitation is the maximum time a claimant has to initiate a lawsuit against a defendant(s). That statute of limitation begins when the claimant becomes injured, wronged, or when debt default occurs (payment due date).  In Texas the statute of limitation expires after the maximum amount of time allowed has run. 

What does it mean when SOL expires?

After the specified SOL time has run, a claimant can no longer initiate legal proceedings against the defendant(s). However, there are exceptions.  One of the most common exceptions is when the claimant discovered the hidden injuries. For instance, claimants may be protected by the fraudulent concealment rule, where he/she discovered the fraudulent act after the date of actual injury. 

Another way statute of limitations is extended is through tolling. Some court proceedings may toll the statute of limitations. Tolling is a legal term for pausing the statute of limitation. For instance, when a person or individual files bankruptcy or where there is a probate proceeding, the statute of limitations for debtors to collect is tolled.

Abstracts of Judgment: Private Creditors

  • TEX. PROPERTY CODE §52.006(a): Private creditor’s judgment lien expires ten (10) years after filing in the County Clerk’s Office.
  • “Dormancy”: If the underlying abstracted judgment goes “dormant” meaning 10 years with no writ of execution, judgment lien may become unenforceable sooner than 10 years after filing of Abstract of Judgment.
  • Re-abstracting and filing the new abstract: When a re-abstract is created, it becomes a new separate abstract judgment lien, thereby it does not continue an existing abstract judgment lien.

Abstracts of Judgment: State of Texas

  • TEX. PROPERTY CODE §52.006(b): State of Texas judgment lien expires 20 years after filing in the County Clerk’s Office.
  • Re-abstracting and filing a new abstract prior to expiration of existing State of Texas judgment lien: This creates a new judgment lien for another 20 years having priority back to the filing date of prior judgment lien.
  • In 2007, SOL changed from 10 years to 20 years and applies to all State of Texas judgment liens that did not expire under prior law as of 9/1/07.

What is a “State of Texas judgment”?

  • TEX. PROPERTY CODE §52.006(b): Judgment in favor of the State of Texas or any Texas state agency.
  • This does not include judgments in favor of counties or municipalities, their boards, departments, or agencies, or special taxing entities such as municipal utility districts.

What is a “State agency”?

  • TEX. GOVERNMENT CODE §403.055: Means “board, commission, council, committee, department, office, agency, or other governmental entity in the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of state government”
  • In addition, PROPERTY CODE §52.006(b) specifically includes Texas public four-year colleges and universities (but not two-year junior/community colleges).

Abstracts of Judgment: Federal Judgments

  • 28 United States Code §3201: Federal judgment lien expires 20 years after filing in the County Clerk’s Office.
  • Re-filing prior to expiration continues the original judgment lien for an additional 20 years (40-year possible total lifetime).
  • “Federal judgment”: Judgment rendered in federal court and is in favor of the United States of America or one of its agencies, departments, or instrumentalities.

 Acknowledgments: Defective Certificate.

  • “Fatal” defects: Lack of statutory certificate form; omission of acknowledger’s name; absence of state-provided officer’s seal. 
  • Document filed prior to September 1, 2007: Acknowledgement defect can be ignored if in records for more than 4 years [TEX. CIVIL PRACTICE & REMEDIES CODE §16.033(a)(8), prior law].
  • Document filed after August 31, 2007: Acknowledgement defect can be ignored if in records for more than 2 years [TEX. CIVIL PRACTICE & REMEDIES CODE §16.033(a)(8) as amended].

Ad Valorem Property Taxes

  • “Delinquent”: Unpaid on February 1st following the year in which unpaid taxes were assessed.
  • Real property: Statutory lien expires 20 years after taxes become delinquent [TEX. TAX CODE §33.05(a)(2)].
  • Personal property: Statutory lien expires 4 years after taxes become delinquent [TEX. TAX CODE §33.05(a)(1)].
  • Abstracted judgments for taxes: Apply the appropriate judgment lien limitation, not tax-lien limitation.

Child Support Liens

  • TEX. FAMILY CODE §157.318(a), prior law: Child Support Lien Notice or Abstract of Judgment filed prior to September 1, 2009: No limitation.
  • TEX. FAMILY CODE §157.318(d) as amended: Child Support Lien Notice or Abstract of Judgment filed on or after September 1, 2009: Expires 10 years after filing (re-filing prior to expiration creates a new lien with priority relating back to the first filing).


  • TEX. CIVIL PRACTICE & REMEDIES CODE §16.051: Cause of action to set aside, rescind, or reform expires 4 years after accrual; Trustees of Casa View Assembly of God Church v. Williams, 414 S.W.2d 697].
  • Discovery Rule applies: Limitation begins to run from the time when the claimant knew or should have known about the cause of action.

Deed of Trust Liens: Non-Federal Beneficiary/Payee

  • TEX. CIVIL PRACTICE & REMEDIES CODE §16.035: Deed of Trust lien becomes barred 4 years after the original or extended maturity date of the secured obligation. 
  • Exception: Extended to 6 years if secured note is acquired by the FDIC as receiver or conservator of a failed financial institution before collection becomes barred under state law; additional 2 years also benefits assignee who acquires the note from FDIC [12 U.S.C. 1821(d)(14); Jackson v. Thweatt, 883 S.W.2d 171].

 Deed of Trust Liens: Federal Beneficiary as Payee

  • 28 U.S.C. 2415; U.S. v. Alvarado, 5 F.3d 1425: Deed of Trust lien does not become barred by passage of time, i.e. no limitation.
  • Includes Deeds of Trust in favor of: United States of America, Small Business Administration, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and Farm Service Agency (formerly Farmers Home Administration).

 Earnest Money Contract: Specific Performance

  • TEX. CIVIL PRACTICE & REMEDIES CODE §16.004(a)(1): Cause of action becomes barred 4 years after it accrues (other party defaults under the Contract).
  • Additionally, this applies to the seller’s claim to earnest money as liquidated damages for the purchaser’s default under the Earnest Money Contract.

Federal Tax Liens: Income Tax

  • 26 U.S.C. 6502(a)(1): Income Tax: IRS Code lien expires 10 years after assessment of tax; 
  • 26 U.S.C. 6323(g)(3): When “re-filing”, There must be a new notice of Federal Tax Lien within 1 year preceding 30 days after expiration of this 10-year period giving this new Notice priority back to the filing date of the original notice.
  • “Last Day for Refiling” the notice of Federal tax Lien has expired after all dates have passed. According to 26 U.S.C., specific date as ascertainable.  

Federal Tax Liens: Estate Tax and Gift Tax

  • 26 U.S.C. 6324(a): Federal Estate Tax: Inchoate lien aka no notice-filing required expires 10 years after the date of decedent’s death.
  • 26 U.S.C. 6324(b): Federal Gift Tax: Inchoate lien aka no notice-filing required expires 10 years after the date of transfer, but subsequent sale by the transferee to bona fide purchaser automatically divests tax lien from the gift real estate.

Home Owners Association or Property Owners Association Assessment Liens

  • TEX. CIVIL PRACTICE & REMEDIES CODE §16.035: Contractual liens created by restrictions and condominium declarations to secure HOA/POA assessments become barred 4 years after due date.
  • However, as a practical matter, do not rely on limitations as eliminating an unreleased HOA/POA lien notice unless a resale certificate or other fee-status report from or on behalf of the Association shows the assessment as no longer collectible.

Mental Health and Mental Retardation Liens (MHMR)

  • TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE §533.004: Perfected MHMR lien has no limitation.
  • Mental Health and Mental Retardation Lien secures recoupment of the cost of providing support, maintenance, and treatment to patients in a Texas Department of Mental Health & Mental Retardation facility.
  • When statutory notice is filed in the County Clerk’s Office where the obligor’s real estate is located, a lien attaches to the non-exempt property of the patient or person legally responsible for the patient’s support.

Mechanic’s Liens: Voluntary 

  • TEX. CIVIL PRACTICE & REMEDIES CODE §16.035: Contractual Mechanic’s Lien or Mechanic’s Lien Contract: Enforcement by foreclosure is barred 4 years after payment of the contract price became due.

Mechanic’s Liens: Involuntary

  • §37, TEX. CONSTITUTION; TEX. CIVIL PRACTICE & REMEDIES CODE §16.004(a)(3): Constitutional Mechanic’s Lien lawsuit to enforce is barred 4 years after the underlying debt became due.
  • A “constitutional lien” arises automatically, without the necessity of filing any notice, in favor of a subcontractor or supplier who deals directly with the owner and not through a general contractor.

Mechanic’s Liens: Involuntary

  • TEX. PROPERTY CODE §53.158(b): Statutory Affidavit of Claim where owner’s residence on owner’s land: If the claimant does not bring suit, lien claim becomes barred maximum of sixteen (16) months after last date on which claimant did labor or furnished materials.
  • TEX. PROPERTY CODE §53.158(a): Statutory Affidavit of Claim for all other construction. If claimant does not bring suit, lien claim becomes barred maximum of twenty-nine (29) months after last date on which claimant did labor or furnished materials.

Municipal Liens

  • TEX. TRANSPORTATION CODE §313.054(d): Street Improvements aka paving lien. If the obligation is held by the municipality, there is no limitation period.
  • TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE §342.007(e): Statutory Health/Safety Liens such as weed-mowing, brush removal, and demolition of substandard structures. When a municipality has filed its notice of lien in the real estate records, there is no limitation period.

Restitution Liens

  • TEX. CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE Art. 42.22, §§12(a), 12(b): State of Texas including victim compensation lien expires 10 years after filing, but can be extended for 10 years by refiling before expiration and not subject to dormancy.

State Tax Liens

  • TEX. TAX CODE § 13.105: “Tax Lien; Period of Validity (a) The state tax lien on personal property and real estate continues until the taxes secured by the lien are paid.” 
  • However, TEX. TAX CODE §111.202: Title 2 Taxes including Sales, Use, Excise, Franchise, Gross Receipts, Business Permit, Severance, and Inheritance Taxes suit to collect becomes barred 3 years after the last filing of a tax lien notice.

State Tax Liens: Labor Code & Employers

(Texas Workforce Commission)

  • TEX. LABOR CODE §213.033(a): Unpaid Unemployment Compensation Contribution. A lawsuit to collect from the employer is barred 3 years after contribution became due.
  • TEX. TAX CODE §§61.081, 61.082: Wage Lien aka “Payday Lien” vs. employer (for benefit of employee) has no limitation.

State Tax Liens: Labor Code & Employees

(Texas Workforce Commission)

  • TEX. LABOR CODE §§212.006, 213.033(a): Overpaid Unemployment Compensation Benefits. Collection suit against an employee is barred 3 years after reimbursement becomes due.

Substitute Trustee Lacking Recorded Appointment

  • TEX. CIVIL PRACTICE & REMEDIES CODE §16.033(a)(7): Trustee’s Deed filed prior to September 1, 2007: Suit alleging Substitute Trustee’s lack of authority becomes barred 4 years after Trustee’s Sale, prior law.
  • TEX. CIVIL PRACTICE & REMEDIES CODE §16.033(a)(7), as amended effective June 15, 2008: Trustee’s Deed filed on or after September 1, 2007: Suit alleging Substitute Trustee’s lack of authority becomes barred 2 years after Trustee’s Sale.

Surveyor’s Liability for Survey Error

  • TEX. CIVIL PRACTICE & REMEDIES CODE §16.011: There is no liability 10 years after survey was completed. This can be extended by 2 years if a written claim for damages was submitted to the surveyor within 10 years after completion of survey.

Tax Sales, Suit to Set Aside

  • TEX. CIVIL PRACTICE & REMEDIES CODE §16.002(b): Tax Warrant Seizure. One (1) year after the date of Sheriff’s Sale.
  • TEX. TAX CODE §33.54(a)(1): Ad Valorem Tax Lien Foreclosure on non-homestead, nonagricultural, and surface-only. One (1) year after filing date of the Sheriff’s Tax Deed.
  • TEX. TAX CODE §33.54(a)(2): Ad Valorem Tax Lien Foreclosure on homestead, agricultural, or minerals with surface. Two (2) years after filing date of Sheriff’s Tax Deed.

Tax Sales, Suit to Set Aside

  • TEX. TAX CODE §34.05(f): Re-sale by Taxing Unit Taking Title at Tax Sale. 1 year after date on which the re-sale occurred.

Water Control & Improvement District Lien

  • TEX. WATER CODE §51.509: District charges/assessments for maintenance and operation of works, facilities, and services. There is no limitation, i.e. “No law providing limitations against actions for debt shall apply”.

To learn more about statutes of limitations or to have your case assessed, reach out to an Integrity Law Group PLLC attorney.

8 Ways to Transfer Your Assets Without Probate

Probate is the legal process where a court of law establishes the validity of a decedent’s will. The probate process includes the appointment of an administrator, receivership, ad litem, and accounting & inventory of the decedent’s belongings, paying off the decedent’s debt, and distributing the estate’s assets. Among other reasons, the advantages of probate include:

1. expediting creditors’ claims, 

2. court decides the outcome for contested matters, 

3. reduce expenses that would accrue outside of court, 

4. provide an opportunity for beneficiaries, and 

5. heirs to be heard.  

However, there are several reasons one would want to opt-out of probate. The disadvantages to probate are 

1. The length of time to close out a probate case, 

2. Probate can be expensive, especially when contested or a dependent administrator is appointed, and 

3. The probate process is public record and accessible to anyone to see the estate’s assets and liabilities. 

You may prefer a trust to satisfy specific anonymity needs. However, an alternative to trusts, and to avoid probate are 8 ways to transfer your assets to beneficiaries: 

  1. Pay on Death (POD) Bank Account – Most banks have a POD form for you to fill out and submit to the bank. Upon your death, the bank requires proof of death, mainly a death certificate and beneficiary’s identification are satisfactory. On the form, you provide the beneficiary’s information. The beneficiary will receive all remaining funds in your account. Beneficiaries under a POD, do not have rights to your account unless stipulated. You are allowed to change beneficiaries at any time. The bank account may be temporarily frozen at the time of your death or by court order, especially if federal levies the estate tax and sufficient funds are paid for IRS taxes. Texas does not have an estate tax. Every bank may have different policies. Ask your bank if notification to the beneficiary is required as part of the procedure for POD. Generally, more than one designated beneficiary is allowed.
  1. Transfer of Death Vehicle Registration – Texas allows vehicles to transfer to your designated beneficiary. The Department of Motor Vehicles provides a ‘Beneficiary Designation for Motor Vehicle’ form. This designation will not transfer ownership during your life or affect the interest or right of a secured or unsecured creditor or future creditor. If you file this form with the Department of Motor Vehicles, a will won’t supersede the ‘Beneficiary Designation for Motor Vehicle’ form. Once the form is filled out, it must be filed with an application for Texas Title and/or registration, fees paid, and valid ownership evidence to a county tax assessor-collector’s office before your (owner’s) death. Beneficiaries must survive the owner by 120 hours and title application is submitted no later than 180th day after the owner’s death. Beneficiaries can decline interest in the vehicle. After death, if the beneficiary accepts the vehicle, he/she is also accepting any liens on the vehicle. Similar to the owner filing the transfer of death vehicle registration, the beneficiary must also file a title application, pay the fees, provide a death certificate, and provide identification.  Here is the link to ‘Beneficiary Designation for Motor Vehicle’ form: 
  1. Transfer on Death Deed (TODD) for Real Estate – TODD allows owners to keep ownership rights during his/her lifetime and allows owners to transfer ownership of the real property to the beneficiary after the owner’s death without a probate court’s involvement. TODD should explicitly state that title to real property will not transfer to the beneficiary until the original owner’s death.  TODD should also include the beneficiar(ies) name, legal description of the property, dated, signed, notarized, and recorded in the real property records where the property is located. After death, proof by death certificate and an affidavit of death must also be signed, notarized, and recorded. At any time prior to your death, you may terminate TODD or redesignate the beneficiary or beneficiaries. See our article on TODD vs. Lady Bird Deed for more information. Attorneys at Walter & Truong PLLC can draft and record the Transfer on Death Deed on your behalf. To speak to our attorneys, click here.
  1. Tenancy in Common & Joint Tenancy – Two common concurrent ownership in Texas are joint tenancies and tenancies in common. These concurrent ownerships are similar but have distinctions with significant effects of inheritance. 

A tenancy in common occurs when two or more parties jointly hold an interest in the property. Concurrent ownership undivided interest and right to possess the property. This is the default Texas rule and is presumed if no explicit written language is stated in the deed. Each owner has the right to sell, devise, lease, or transfer their interest in the property. When an owner dies, his/her share will pass through a will or, if the concurrent owner dies intestate (without a will) the default under Texas Intestate estate code. 

On the other hand, joint tenancy contains languages of a right of survivorship. Right of survivorship means when the concurrent owner dies, the surviving owner(s) automatically inherit the decedent’s share. Property does not pass through probate. 

Both concurrent ownership can be used for personal property, but are commonly used for real estate. To avoid probate, the deed must explicitly state the right of survivorship language.

Joint Tenancy is not for everyone. Once concurrent ownership is formed, it’s difficult to revert back to you. If you change your mind, you don’t have the right to freely take back the property. Another issue with joint tenancy is that you may need authorization for all concurrent owners to take out a mortgage, sell or transfer the property, etc. In the event that concurrent owner(s) are incapacitated, a court-appointed guardian will make the decisions for that person. Other reasons for not using joint tenancy include gift tax for amounts exceeding $15,000.00 and miss stepped up tax breaks for spouses who become concurrent owners of a spouse’s prior separate property. The IRS allows a surviving spouse to get a “stepped up tax basis” only half of a decedent’s property instead of the full property if the property becomes joint tenancy. 

  1. Community Property – In Texas, 100% of community property automatically transfers to the surviving spouse except when the decedent has children outside of the marriage aka stepchildren. Then community property is shared with stepchildren.  To learn more about the Texas default rule for intestate succession for heirs, click here.
  1. Community Property Survivorship Agreement – Under the Texas Estate Code Section 112 spouses may enter into an agreement at any time between themselves to designate the surviving spouse of the deceased spouse that all or part of separate property becomes community property. Texas requires specific language in the agreement to be enforceable. It must include the following:
    1. Be in writing
    2. Signed by both spouses
    3. The phrase: “with right of surviving”, “will become the property of the survivor”, “will vest in and belong to the surviving spouse”, or “shall pass to the surviving spouse.”

Texas Estate Code Section 112.052(d) states that a survivorship agreement may not be inferred from the mere fact that an account is a joint account or that an account is designated as JT TEN, Joint Tenancy, or joint, or with other similar languages. 

Further, Community Property Survivorship Agreement can be revoked by adding revocation terms to the agreement. If no revocation terms exist in the agreement, the default rule is that a revocation agreement must be in writing, signed by both spouses, or signed by one spouse and delivered to the other spouse. Specific property can be revoked. According to Texas Estate Code 112.054, a community property survivorship agreement may be revoked with respect to specific property subject to the agreement by the disposition of the property by one or both spouses if the disposition is not inconsistent with specific terms of the agreement and applicable law.

  1. Life Insurance – Life insurance is a contract between you, the policyholder, and the insurance company. You pay the premiums during your lifetime in exchange for a lump sum payment to your named beneficiary. The beneficiary will receive the money after your death and may use that money for any purpose. This type of contract does not involve probate and the proceeds go directly to the beneficiary. There are a couple of exceptions for probate involvement such as when the estate is named as the beneficiary. This is done so the estate can pay off debts and taxes. This is suggested under specific circumstances and is not common

Another uncommon scenario is when the financial institution that provides the life insurance may need to show cause for not properly providing the payment to the beneficiary. 

There are two primary types of life insurance, term life, and permanent life. Term life is a certain duration of your life while a permanent life covers your entire life.

  1. Gift – The first $15,000 you give per person as a gift is exempt from federal gift tax. This amount may change per IRS requirements. See for more details.

When you give a gift to someone, that gift is separate property, meaning it belongs to the person to whom it is given and is not shared with another person such as a spouse. There are no requirements to document gift giving (but it is suggested that you keep a written record of it in the event of a dispute in the future), however, once you give that item away generally, you cannot take it back. The exception is some items that require documentation in themselves such as transferring stocks & bonds, royalty, land, car, or boat for proof of ownership. These title transfers should be filed in the correct agency or entity in order to be documented. 

To learn more about probate and other transfer strategies, schedule a consultation with an Integrity Law Group PLLC attorney today. 

Title/Survey Objection Letter

After getting a property under contract, the buyer has an opportunity to “look under the hood” and negotiate with the seller before fully committing to their purchase. Many people are aware of the option period, which allows the buyer to conduct a physical inspection of the house and check for major capital expenditure issues such as HVAC, roof, plumbing, etc. Few buyers know that in addition to that option period, they also have a period where they can review the title commitment and make an objection to the title insurance policy coverage. 

A title company’s main responsibility is to ensure that the seller is the owner of the property and has the right to sell the property so that the buyer is receiving “clean title” to the property. A title company will usually check for recorded liens, verify the seller’s marital status and check for other encumbrances on the property. As a result of the title company’s search, they will produce an initial title commitment. 

To understand what a title objection letter is, one must first understand the process of getting  title insurance. Typically there are  three stages in title diligence for buyers or lenders; 1) the title commitment, 2) objection letter, and 3) title insurance policy.

Prior to obtaining a title insurance policy, under a purchase agreement, the buyer or lender may seek maximum coverage to secure the loan or value of the property. The title company will provide a title commitment with policy coverage, coverage exceptions, and curatives required. During the time to review title commitment, the buyer or lender may provide the title objection letter to dispute or negotiate the terms and conditions of the coverage exceptions.

Generally, the commitment is broken down into separate schedules. Schedule A states the basic information – the who, what, where and how. Schedule B states the exceptions to coverage, Schedule C states the items that need to be taken care of prior to closing (essentially a to-do list) and Schedule D is a disclosure. The objection letter will usually reference Schedules B and C.

Title objection letters should be specific and are used for various reasons such as objection to an encumbrance to the property. This includes objecting to expired, not applicable, or unenforceable easement, leases, subordinate liens, tax assessments, access, mineral interest, restrictive covenants, or schedule B modification.

Objection letters are also to dispute the area and boundary lines (survey), whether there’s a shortage, overlap of improvements, or encroachments, to name a few.

The objection letter is usually directed towards the buyer (if the given by lender), or to the seller (if given by buyer) and a copy must be provided  to the title/escrow company. The parties to the transaction are responsible for performing any curative matters.  

Some exceptions in Schedule B and C of the title commitment can be eliminated but ensure that it’s not overlooked prior to closing. However, many exceptions to title are correct or meritorious but can be addressed by performing curatives. If certain encumbrances or exceptions cannot be covered, the commitment and/or survey will identify and provide full disclosure so that parties are making an informed decision with the transaction.

At times, there are problems which the seller cannot cure, and therefore closing cannot happen. In the event of a major problem, buyers should confirm the terms of the agreement to find out if they can receive their earnest money back. However, if the parties wish to continue to pursue the transaction and close, it is important to have a real estate attorney review the title commitment and propose options to clear title.

If you need an attorney to review your title commitment, or to learn more, contact Integrity Law Group PLLC.

Texas Closing Checklist for Every New Homeowner

Whether you are purchasing your first home or the next real estate deal, closings can be a nerve racking process. There are a lot of factors that come into play in order to successfully close on a property. We have created a checklist for you to ensure your closing goes as smoothly as possible. 

We broke down the closing process into three stages: pre-closing, closing and post-closing. 


  1. The Contract 

If you are the buyer and your offer was accepted by the seller, you will enter into a contract. Generally, your real estate agent will prepare the contract. If it is a residential property, agents typically use the TREC one to four residential contract. Your agent will also prepare the appropriate addendums. Be sure to thoroughly review the contract to ensure you understand all the terms. If there is something you do not understand, ask your agent for clarification, or, have a real estate attorney review the contract for you. 

  1. The Inspection 

Follow the terms of your contract and calendar your deadline for due diligence. Generally, the contract will outline your time frame for your option period. An option period is a specific timeframe that both parties agree to in which the buyer can terminate the contract for any reason without risking their earnest money. This time frame is crucial because it allows for you to perform your due diligence on the property before fully committing to the contract. You can order a property inspection report which will show you any concerns or issues with the property. 

  1. Lending 

Provide a copy of the contract to your lender so they have the material terms of the agreement. After the inspection is completed, you may discuss negotiation tactics with your real estate agent if there are concerns with the property. Make sure that your lender has copies of all amendments to the agreement if you agree to a different sales price or concessions/reductions are made. Then, contact your lender to ensure an appraisal for the property is ordered and scheduled. 

  1. Insurance and Title 

Shop around for home insurance companies that best suit your needs and select the insurance company that provides the amount of coverage for your home owner’s insurance policy. You may also need to send a copy of this information to your lender. Additionally, you will most likely need title insurance. The title company that was designated in your contract will provide you with a title commitment to start. Be sure to review the commitment, survey and abstract within the timeframe as stated in the contract. If you have questions about title be sure to contact a real estate attorney to review the commitment on your behalf. The attorney may spot issues and recommend an objection letter. To learn more about objection letters, read our article here

  1. Financing

To calculate how much you can afford for a property, the general rule of thumb is 30% of your gross monthly income on home related expenses. Take into consideration the mortgage, taxes, insurance, HOA fees, and cash reserves for home repairs or replacements. Also take into consideration other expenses unrelated to the property to understand your debt to income ratio. Financing should generally be done before purchasing a home, however, sometimes your finances or sale transactions change, then you should reevaluate your budget.

  1. Final Walk Through 

The day before or day of closing, go to the property. The final walk through gives you the opportunity to inspect the property before the official sale. During this time, inspect any agreed repairs, inspect all appliances, check whether all doors and windows are secured, working properly, or to your satisfaction, belongings of the seller are completely removed, check for signs of mold, check electricity and outlets, and inspect the exterior & backyard. 


  1. The Parties 

First, know who all the important parties are. At closing, you will likely meet at your title company’s office and a title agent will be present. Prior to your closing make sure to ask your title agent what you need to bring on the day of closing and what needs to be completed prior to closing. For example, most title agents will request that you bring a valid form of identification such as your driver’s license. 

  1. Funding

You will also be required to bring your down payment at closing. Make sure to confirm

with the title agent if you need to bring certified funds or wire the funds beforehand and how far in advance the funds must be wired. Wire fraud is serious so be sure to double check the wiring information before you send the money. If you are uncertain if the instructions are legitimate, contact your escrow officer. 

Consider whether you want your real estate agent or an attorney present with you at closing to review the documents with you. If you are bringing additional parties, be sure to account for additional time for discussions amongst everyone. 

  1. Important Closing Documents 

Prior to your closing, you should set aside time to review all your documents to ensure the information is correct. Double check the names, address, loan amount, other contact information, etc A few important documents include: 

  1. The closing disclosure, 
  2. The deed of trust, 
  3. The note, and 
  4. The warranty deed. 


  1. Access 

After closing you should receive all keys, access codes, garage openers, etc. to your new property. If feasible, we recommend that you change all the locks on the property (if this was not previously completed). This ensures that you are the only people with access to the property. 

  1. Utilities 

If you haven’t already set up utilities, then connect your water, gas, electricity, and Wi-Fi. Typically, we suggest that you complete this prior to closing to ensure you have service by the time you close to avoid any periods of no service. 

  1. Homestead Exemptions 

If this is your primary residence, then apply for the homestead property tax exemption and any other exemptions that you qualify for. You can usually find the forms on the county website where the property is located. Confirm that all change of ownership documents with the county appraisal districts are  updated to reflect your information. 

  1. Important Documents 

Lastly, make an electronic copy of your closing documents and store the copy you  receive from closing in a safe place. 

Series Limited Liability Company (LLC)

What is a series LLC?

Historically, members had to file, manage, record, and report each LLC separately which meant more paperwork, more cataloging, more expense, and more reporting. That process created more unnecessary work and several issues for not only the members of the LLC but also for the states’ regulatory agencies. Some states have resolved this issue by enacting the series LLC. When done properly, a series LLC gives members protection from personal liabilities arising from multiple properties or operations without having the  extra expenses of multiple LLCs.

Series LLC also known as master LLC provides liability protection across multiple LLC entities. Business owners and investors (“Members”) create LLCs to protect their personal assets from legal liability. Members can add additional protection by forming series LLCs to hold each real property or business entity.

A series LLC is a designated “series” or “child” LLCs from the original LLC aka parent LLC. Each child can hold a specific property or properties, investments, assets, borrow money, or have a specific business purpose. In other words, each series can have its separate rights, powers, duties for specific assets or liabilities and can have a separate business purpose. Liabilities, debts, and obligations are only held against each child LLC and not against the parent LLC or other child(ren) LLCs. Each designated LLC has its own governing documents establishing its members, managers, and membership interests. It can also file lawsuits, be sued separately from the parent LLC, enter into contracts, hold title and secure interest in assets. 

According to the Texas Business Commerce Code (TBCC) Section 1.201(b)(27), Legislators defined Texas series LLC as a legal “person.” Under the Texas Uniform Commerce Code (TUCC) Section 9.102(3) a debtor is a person obligated on an account, chattel paper, or general intangible. This new law allows series LLCs to acquire assets through debt.

Series LLC are commonly used for business ventures, multiple investments or rental properties, or businesses that operate multiple channels of revenues. One of the benefits of a series setup is that Members can avoid filing separate tax returns for each series. 

How does someone form a  Texas series LLC?

According to Texas Business Organizations Code (TBOC) Section 101.602(a)(1)-(2), specific languages must be included in the certificate of formation, operating agreement, and maintain separate books and records for each series. In order to receive series LLC benefits, the series must be filed with the Texas Secretary of State, have a unique name from its siblings and parent LLC, conduct business, and be in compliance with the Texas Business Commerce Code and Texas Business Organizations Code. 

There are three  types of series LLC: (i) registered LLC, (ii) protected LLC, and (iii) series LLC that doesn’t fall into registered or protected LLC class. 

The minimum requirements to get the benefits of a series LLC is under TBOC Section 101.602(a)(1)-(2) which states that the series LLC must be included in the certificate of formation and company agreement, and the company must maintain separate records for the assets of each series. See TBOC section 101.601 through 101.621. Generally, under the certificate of formation, under the supplemental text section of the form, you add the series information. 

Protected series requires that the LLC certificate of formation must provide notice of the series structure and the LLC agreement must permit the formation of different series. The series LLC must be properly recorded and maintain accounts for separate assets and liabilities for each series. Essentially, to file for a protected series, you must file an assumed name certificate in compliance with Chapter 71 of TBOC. 

Registered series requirements are the same as protected service with additional documentation that a certificate of registered series is filed with the Texas Secretary of State by the parent LLC. When done properly, this is particularly beneficial when  a third party vendor or purchaser of the company requires a certificate of status which shows the registered series in use and in good standing with the State. Additionally, registered series can file other documents with the Texas Secretary of State in relation to that series and provide certified copies to third party vendors or purchasers. 

To form a name for a registered series, it must state the name of the parent company, followed by R.S or RS, then name of the series. For instance, if the parent is Texas Real Estate Group LLC, the following are acceptable: 1. Texas Real Estate Group LLC – RS Harvest Blue Houston or 2. Harvest Blue Houston, a registered series of Texas Real Estate Group LLC.

Texas is one of the few states that offer series LLC. Not all states will recognize Texas series LLC, however, Texas is unique in that it will allow you to register out of state series LLCs also known as foreign series LLC. 

The laws of a series LLC are ever changing and ever growing. It is a relatively new law and solution provided by some states. Although this article provides some basic information on the series LLC, we always recommend that you do additional research through credible sources and keep up with the law. We will always make good faith efforts to continue to update our articles and resources. 

To learn more about series LLC, contact us to schedule a consultation.

8 Layers of Asset Protection for Texas Residential Landlords

Investing in rental properties has tax and wealth building advantages. Like any other  business, mitigating risk is necessary to protect your assets. Oftentimes, individuals believe that forming an entity is enough to protect oneself from legal liability. This is far from the truth. Landlords get sued for various reasons such as poorly maintained property, unpaid mortgages, liens against the property, dispute of landlord responsibilities,  the list goes on and on.  

To increase asset protection, consider using a multi layer barrier approach that impedes possible claimants from future lawsuits. While this may not be 100% legal liability proof, you’ll greatly reduce your chances. Additionally, insurance companies and entities may not protect landlords who are proven negligent, grossly negligent by acts or omissions, or determined to violate the law. 

Below are 8 layers of asset protection.

1. Have the Property Under an Entity

  • When an entity is created, it becomes separate from its owner which reduces liability for the landlord. 
  • Landlords can form a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC). LLCs are more common for their flexibility. Learn more about LLC formations here
  • Be wary of the corporate veil. Piercing the corporate veil is an equitable remedy under Texas Business Code Section 101 when owners/landlords commingle funds (personal funds are mixed with company funds), do not treat the company as a separate business entity, use the company to commit illegal acts such as actual fraud, personal guarantees, diversion of company profits for individual personal use, inadequate capital, failure of proper legal documents. 
  • Under Texas Business Code Section 101.114, exceptions to piercing the corporate veil states: “Except as and to the extent the company agreement specifically provides otherwise, a member or manager is not liable for a debt, obligation, or liability of a limited liability company, including a debt, obligation, or liability under a judgment, decree, or order of a court.”
  • According to Castleberry v. Branscum Texas Supreme Court established the veil piercing doctrine stating that entities usually protect shareholders, officers, and directors from company liabilities, however if those individuals abuse this privilege, that individual is held liable.  Castleberry v. Branscum, 721 S.W.2d 270 (1986). The court specifically lists reasons for disregarding privilege:
  • When the fiction is used as a means of perpetrating fraud;
    1. Where a corporation is organized and operated as a mere tool or business conduit of another corporation;
    2. Where the corporate fiction is resorted to as a means of evading an existing legal obligation;
    3. Where the corporate fiction is employed to achieve or perpetuate monopoly;
    4. Where the corporate fiction is used to circumvent a statute; and
    5. Where the corporate fiction is relied upon as a protection of crime or to justify wrong.

2. Create the Entity with Anonymity 

  • If people think you’re judgment proof, they’re less likely to sue you because they think that there are no assets to collect on. In other words, you’re less of a target for lawsuits.
  • Anonymity reduces the risk of harm or dangers to you.
  • Anonymity limits access and knowledge to your financial information.

3. Implement Terms in the Lease that Protect the Landlord

  • The Texas Realtors Residential Lease Agreement is commonly used among landlords, however it’s not a catch all agreement for terms that protect the landlord. If there are specific terms, not already in the lease agreement that offer additional protection and that are permitted by the Texas Property Code, add them.While this sounds like common sense, common sense is not always common. At Walter & Truong PLLC, we draft, review and implement terms to increase protection for landlords. 
  • Read the entire lease agreement to make sure you understand yours and the tenant’s rights and responsibilities.
  • Put your expectations in the lease agreement so in the event that issues arise, those issues are addressed. 

4. Purchase an Umbrella Insurance Policy

  • Umbrella Insurance Policies are used as  additional coverage after landlord liability insurance is reached.
  • It’s also used for claims from a tenant, guest, or adverse possessors on vacant property injured on the property. Arguably, adverse possessors have a higher burden to prove the owner’s responsibility of injury. 
  • Unlike property-specific insurance policies, an umbrella policy can provide coverage for multiple rental properties in different cities and states. It may even cover the landlord’s residence. 

5. Require Tenants to Buy Renter’s Insurance 

  • The benefits of renter’s insurance is that it covers loss of personal property due to theft and negligent destruction from tenant to landlord’s property among other things. This is especially important when tenants are judgment proof and recovery from tenants are unlikely. 
  • This may reduce landlords from legal liabilities, help reduce insurance premiums for landlords, and help with tenant screening.  

6. Understand Landlord Responsibilities & Rights and Tenants Responsibilities & Rights. 

  • Part of protecting yourself from liabilities requires educating yourself. When leasing space to tenants, you must understand what you can and cannot do as well as what tenants can and cannot do. Landlords that do not know their responsibilities and rights are susceptible to breaking the rules. Ignorance is not a winning defense in court. 
  • A few of landlord requirements include refunding security deposits when tenants have completed their obligations, respect Tenants’ right to use and enjoyment of the property, and follow the Federal Fair Housing Act.
  • For more details of Residential Landlord Rights and Responsibilities click the link here to read our article.

7. Maintain the Property in Safe Condition. 

  • Keep the property habitable for tenants. This means landlords should maintain their rental property in a livable condition. It’s generally in the landlord’s best interest to mitigate health and safety issues.  
  • Keep the property in a reasonably safe condition to minimize personal injuries. Landlords are not required to fix every potential hazard. If the tenant created an unsafe condition, the tenant is likely to be liable. The landlord is not liable for the tenant’s injury to himself/herself. There are limits that protect the landlord from the property’s condition.

8. Follow Proper Eviction Procedure

  • Texas Property Code Section 24 and Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 500 lays out rules for tenants to abide by. Courts frown upon landlords that do not follow these rules. Additionally, landlords may be penalized for improper evictions.
  • Insurance coverages do not protect landlords from improper evictions.
  • Tenants may have viable claims against landlords who do not follow the proper procedure such as locking the tenant from the property, providing the wrong content or incorrect delivery of  written notice to vacate.

To learn more about asset protection, contact the real estate attorneys at Integrity Law Group PLLC.

Texas LLC Formation

A limited liability company (LLC) is a business structure that is permitted by individual state statutes. In Texas, the Business Organizations Code allows for the creation of LLCs. An LLC is formed by filing a certificate of formation with the Texas Secretary of State. Generally, an LLC is owned by its members. The LLC is a separate legal entity from its members, therefore providing liability to its members (except in the case of piercing the corporate veil, etc.). An LLC can serve many purposes, such as for your small business, or if you are a real estate investor, it can hold your rental properties. There are advantages and disadvantages to forming an LLC: 

To name a few advantages: 

  • Offers some asset protection, 
  • Tax advantages,  
  • Succession planning opportunities, 
  • Separation between yourself and your business, 
  • Anonymity, and 
  • Credibility as an established business.

However, there are also disadvantages: 

  • Requires maintenance/upkeep,  
  • Costs, 
  • Individuals are responsible for paying self-employment taxes,
  • LLC does not fit all business criteria (ex. LLC are not eligible for Section 1202 Gain Exclusions, pass through investment, complex capital raising etc), and
  • If the LLC is formed for rental properties, you may run into lending issues, etc. 

Within the LLC formation there is also the series LLC. To learn more about series LLCs click here. Additionally, there are other types of businesses that you can form in Texas, including partnerships, sole proprietorships, corporations, etc. To learn more about other business entities, be sure to check out our articles and resources tab. After you have done your research and you decide that an LLC is the best choice to suit your needs, the steps are: 

  1. File a certificate of formation with the Texas Secretary of State,
    1. Be sure to check the name availability of your LLC first. If a name is already in use, you have to come up with another name, 
    2. Also, consider whom you want to name as your registered agent (typically you can name yourself. There are also registered agent services you can find online. The advantage of using a registered agent is that you can use their physical address instead of your own. This is especially important if you do not have an office address and plan to use your home address. Additionally, Walter & Truong PLLC offers this service. Reach out to a Walter & Truong LLC attorney to find out more),  
  2. This step is optional, but recommended, file for an employment identification number (EIN) with the Internal Revenue Services (IRS),
  3. Create an operating agreement (and other necessary documents such as resolutions if needed),  and 
  4. If you have more than one member, plan your initial meeting with all the members. 

Although the steps are fairly straightforward, if it is your first time creating a business entity, you may have additional questions about proper procedure, forms, documents, and other concerns. For a flat rate Walter & Truong PLLC can take care of the whole process for you. Contact us to schedule consultation here to get started.

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