By Meredith Knight
When Aretha Franklin died in 2018, she did so without a will. Consequently, a woman who clung to her privacy throughout her life had her entire estate laid bare through public probate for the world to see. Without proper estate planning, the singer’s estate—estimated at more than $80 million—was also subject to a significant tax bite from Uncle Sam. Similar stories were told, after the passing of Prince, Sonny Bono, Jimi Hendrix, and others. Some of their estates were dragged out through litigation for decades.
Of course, you’re not the Queen of Soul or the Purple One, but you’ve worked hard to leave a legacy for the ones you love for generations to come. It’s estimated that, in the coming decades, Baby Boomers will pass some $30 trillion to the next generation. Protecting their legacy of wealth is what the Houser Law Firm does best. As a board-certified estate planning and probate law attorney, Founding Attorney Bill Houser holds a designation of expertise few Texas attorneys ever obtain.
Joining him in the Colleyville and Southlake offices are highly experienced trust and estate planning attorneys Candace Sandifer and Artemis Kourosh. “We’ve provided the citizens of North Texas with the highest level of legal services in the wealth law area since 2003,” Bill said. “We have the expertise and ability to handle ultra-wealthy family situations, but we’re efficient enough to also handle more modest matters.”
“Estate doesn’t necessarily mean you have millions and millions,” Artemis said. “I’ve been practicing estate planning and probate law in the Southlake area for years and have learned that everyone—at some point in life—will need an estate plan. Not having one is like going on a trip and not planning for it. You want to leave your family in the best possible position, and we want to make the transition as smooth and stress-free as possible for everyone.”
The Houser Law Firm also offers expertise in litigation involving trusts, estates, family partnerships, powers of attorney, and other fiduciary matters. “As the estate tax exemption has increased, we’ve discovered estate plans implemented when the exemption was much lower may no longer be appropriate,” Bill said. “We’re also seeing many families quarrel over the handling of estates and family businesses.”
Asset Protection Planning
The Houser Firm concentrates on helping clients protect their hard-earned assets from potential creditors. “Medical professionals, successful entrepreneurs, or anyone who’s accumulated wealth runs the risk of losing that wealth to hungry plaintiffs,” Candace said. “Asset protection planning must be completed before a creditor enters the picture or it’s too late for us to help.”
Probate and Related Litigation
Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for conflict to arise among family members after the death of a loved one. The Houser Law Firm handles litigation involving will contests, lawsuits against trustees and defending trustees, abuses of powers of attorney, and controversies among family members over family-owned businesses often on a contingent-fee basis with clients paying nothing up front.
“We also possess vast experience in handling uncontested probate matters,” Bill said. “Our goal is to make the probate process as easy and painless as possible.” They handle probate matters in counties throughout North Texas.
Estate Planning and Business Representation
If your will is several years old, it may be time to revisit it. “Families change over time,” Candace said. “Children grow up, families blend, special needs arise. The probate system changes, too. Probate judges change and can change the face of probate. And different counties handle probate differently. We want to set up an estate plan tailored for your specific goals and needs, regardless of whether you have estate tax considerations or difficult family dynamics. And—rest assured—anything that happens at the Houser Law Firm stays at the Houser Law Firm.”
The Houser Law Firm collaborates with clients’ other advisors such as CPAs and financial advisors. “The best estate plan can only be achieved if we’re all working together in the client’s best interest,” Artemis said. Because many of the firm’s clients own businesses, the attorneys at the Houser Law Firm are often asked to serve as in-house counsel for these businesses. Planning for business succession is a big part of that work.
“Unfortunately, more than 50 percent of businesses fail going from one generation to the next,” Candace said. The firm also handles contract negotiations, mergers and acquisitions, employment matters, and “quarterbacking” other legal matters for businesses. “Our clients come to appreciate our white glove service and want us involved in their business matters as well,” Artemis said.
1120 Glade Road, Suite 150
Colleyville, Texas 76034
211 East Southlake Boulevard, Suite 180
Southlake, Texas 76092