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Estate of Carrie Fisher worth $6.8 million

Star Wars fans in Texas might be interested in learning about the estate of Carrie Fisher, the late actress who played Princess Leia in the series. Fisher, who died at age 60 in December 2016, left some relatively specific estate planning instructions. According to news reports, she asked in her will that her estate should be placed in the Carrie Fisher Living Trust, which has her 26-year-old daughter named as its beneficiary.

On May 13, the executor of the estate filed a document in court asking that the court order a final distribution to the trust. He stated that all of the administrative costs had been paid and that he had completed all of his duties. The document also indicates that Fisher's estate had assets that are worth an estimated $6.8 million.

Filmmaker's untimely death causes legal battles

When a Texas resident creates a will, its terms determine how some or all of a person's assets are distributed upon his or her death. Although John Singleton had a will, it was created in 1993 and was not updated once it was executed. At that time, only one of Singleton's six children was alive and included in the will. Therefore, his other siblings could potentially be denied a share of their father's assets.

Another question that needs to be answered relates to the value of his estate. While it is estimated to be worth $35 million, only $3.8 million has been accounted for to date. It is unclear whether Singleton had a trust for his kids or if there is any other explanation as to where the assets went. However, one of the children says that Singleton's mother may be attempting to keep the children from their father's estate.

Avoid these common business formation mistakes

There's a lot on your mind when starting a business, so it's not out of the question that you'll overlook an important detail. Before you do anything, it's critical to learn more about proper business formation.

Here are five mistakes that many new business owners in Texas have made before you:

  • Choosing the wrong business type: You have many options, including LLC, C Corporation, S Corporation, partnership and sole proprietor. There are pros and cons of all these entities, so make sure you carefully consider which one is best.
  • Skipping this step: Yes, you're in a hurry to get down to business, but doing so before you legally form a company is a big mistake. This may not harm you now, but it will hold you back in a variety of ways in the future. For example, neglecting to form a company may put your personal assets at risk in the event of a lawsuit.
  • Forming a business in the wrong state: Sometimes this is straightforward, but, other times, it's difficult to decide where to incorporate. This typically comes into play if you have locations in different states.
  • Neglecting to maintain compliance: It's one thing to form a corporation, but another thing entirely to maintain compliance as the days go by. For example, you're required to keep personal funds and business funds separate. There are also a variety of tax requirements to meet.
  • Neglecting to change: Even though it can be a time-consuming process, you have the right to change business types in the future. For instance, an LLC may have been best when starting your business, but you now realize that a C Corporation makes more sense. Don't hesitate to compare your options once a year (or more often) to decide if it makes sense to change.

Startup reveals problems with intellectual property law

After a Texas jury awarded $706 million to a housing data analytics startup based on claims of trade secret theft, major vulnerabilities were found in policies related to intellectual property law. Released information showed that the startup was distorting the facts of the case and misleading jurors. The case involved the use of the plaintiff's Automated Valuation Model, or AVM, a technology that's widely used in the online real estate industry.

Industry experts believe that current IP law is flawed partly because the plaintiff in this case was able to win its suit purely based on emotional appeals. Reports show that the company used no sales or revenue information to show that its AVM was worth hundreds of millions of dollars, instead relying on deception, lies and collusion to influence the jury. Whistle blowers from the plaintiff reported that the plaintiff had taken extensive action to hide the fact that their AVM didn't even work.

Advice for executors of wills

Being appointed the executor of a will brings many responsibilities. Texas residents who are appointed as executors often need to secure the will holder's home and other assets, notify beneficiaries, probate the will and file estate and income tax returns. Attorneys and financial advisors can help executors of wills with many of these tasks.

It can be easy for an executor to feel overwhelmed with the number of tasks that need to be accomplished. They may meet with an attorney, receive the appointment as the executor and then just do nothing. It is good to keep in mind that the goal is to eventually close the estate, which means that estate administration and probate tasks need to start moving.

Mergers can give rise to cybersecurity concerns

When businesses in Texas look to expand, they may want to pursue mergers and acquisitions to achieve their goals. By purchasing an existing, successful business, a company can acquire new technology and talent as well as bring a strong competitor to the same team. However, mergers and acquisitions can also come with an array of concerns related to cybersecurity. There are a few key issues for firms to keep in mind throughout the process in order to protect their security and achieve a successful, profitable merger.

One of the most common issues faced by businesses after a merger or an acquisition is a failure to complete thorough due diligence. Some firms may be excited by the opportunity to bring in new technologies or developments but fail to examine the company they are purchasing in full. This can include examining the technical aspects of the software, database system or other items being acquired as part of the merger. In many cases, companies may not thoroughly investigate how to secure their systems after the merger. In a 2016 study by a tech consulting firm, 40 percent of businesses reported that they uncovered serious security concerns after the acquisition was already complete.

What to expect during the probate process

Maybe you're in the process of creating an estate plan. Or maybe you were named the executor of a loved one's will. Regardless of your situation, there may come a time when you need to learn more about the probate process.

Knowing the finer details of probate allows you to make informed decisions that move the process forward as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Early application helps with protecting copyrights

Anyone in Texas worried about protecting their works from infringement should be aware that the sooner they register their copyrighted works, the more protected they'll be. That being said, the US Supreme Court issued a ruling recently that highlighted the importance of early registration: Simply put, a copyright owner cannot file litigation and protect their rights unless their work is already registered by the United States Copyright Office.

Understanding copyright law is important for business owners as these rights protect any original work an individual can produce, including music, paintings, movies, presentations, articles, and software. In other words, most, if not all, forms of expression can be protected under copyright law. However, before the US Supreme Court's ruling, the courts were divided on a particular point: Is it enough for an individual to file a copyright application in order to be allowed to file suit, or must this application be approved first before any legal actions can be taken to protect the work in question? With the Supreme Court's Ruling, this matter has been decided: The application has to be approved first by the United States Copyright Office.

Mergers, acquisitions, and insurance issues

Texas residents who own businesses and are considering merging with or acquiring another company should be aware that there are multiple insurance issues that must be addressed. Before signing a merger and acquisition deal, business owners should consult with a transactional attorney to understand the various insurance issues and how to avoid being burdened with acquired liabilities.

In order to identify uncovered liabilities in a target company, it will be necessary to closely examine its insurance policies. A thorough review of any of the target business's contracts that may provide indemnification should also be conducted. This is highly important because the actual cost or value of the transaction can be affected by whether there are insurance policies in place for any identified or potential liabilities.

Why and how to identify interested parties for a will contest

In some cases, after a person's death in Texas, the will can be challenged. The person who files that challenge is also responsible for making sure that all "interested parties" are notified. This is because all interested parties must have the opportunity to participate in litigation if they choose to do so.

However, the process of identifying and notifying interested parties may be more complex than the challenger realizes, and there can be quite a large number of interested parties. All family members of the person who died are generally considered to be either actual or interested parties. This is the case even for those who are not named in the will.

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